Illud Divinum Insanus - Morbid Angel
1 CD(s) - Death Metal - Label: Season of Mist - Distributor: Plastic Head, Code7/Plastic Head - Released: 06/06/2011 - 822603322224, 822603322255, 822...
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Review of "Illud Divinum Insanus - Morbid Angel"
Morbid Angel: two words that strike fear in the faint hearted and aggression in the eyes of the extreme. One of the most important death metal bands of all time with such classic records as Alters of Madness, Blessed Are The Sick and Covenant (which continues to be one of the best selling death metal albums of all time). Their blasphemous ways and various extreme displays of musical power have inspired and influenced many thousands of artists since their inception. Over 20 years later and theyre still as brutal and uncompromising as ever......or so we thought.
Illud Divinum Insanus was released in June 2011 to much shock and controversy from the extreme metal community. The inclusions of industrial and even rap metal influences were obviously not well received and many considered this to be the worst moment of their career by far (check out the 'R.I.P. Morbid Angel' page on facebook). Hopes were high as it had been a full 8 years since the subpar album, Heretic and legendary vocalist and bassist David Vincent had returned to the studio with the band for the first time since 1995's Domination (which is considered to be one of the best extreme metal albums ever made). These expectations added to the massive backlash as did the departure of long time drummer and founding member, Pete Sandoval who was suffering chronic back pain forcing the band to hire revered drummer Tim Yeung (from Hate Eternal, Divine Heresy and Nile, among others) who has a much different playing style featuring drum triggers (which are amazing to some and awful to others). All in all, the band had a lot to live up to and, in the eyes of many, they have greatly failed.Musically, IDI is a rather varied album and would perhaps have a little more success had it not been under the Morbid Angel name. There are tracks that alternate from the straight up death metal approach of their past, instead including outside influences such as industrial (probably due to David Vincent's inclusion in his wife's band, The Genitorturers) and nu metal. That said, tracks like Blades For Baal, Nevermore, Beauty Meets Beast and Existo Vulgare have a good death metal sound that is certainly more characteristic of Morbid Angel's early work (albeit with a much cleaner and tighter production value). They may not be particularly amazing tracks when compared to the other albums but they most certainly do stand out when listening through this piece. They do kind of feel like Morbid Angel by numbers style filler but they are worth a listen.
The opening track is an orchestral piece that sounds like if Nightwish were to perform over the opening track to 'From Enslavement To Obliteration' by Napalm Death (Evolved As One). Its interesting but I feel it to be too long and disjointed in that it does not set the scene for the album ahead. Then comes the first example of mass experimentation: Too Extreme! Due to Trey and David's affinity to the genres of drum n bass and industrial, there is an almost immediate feel of The Berzerker style crossover death metal but without the intense aggression or raw power of them. The structure and organisation of the riffs are perculiar and the guitar/synth mix is more akin to Rammstein (ie Du Reichst So Gut). Certainly one that I personally would skip if I was to listen through the album again. Another of the controversial tracks is I Am Morbid which has a sound that to me has a lot more in common with rap/groove metal bands like Downset, Biohazard and even Marilyn Manson at times. Gang vocals, simplistic riffs, anthemically catchy choruses and a characteristically late 90s sound. I do actually rather like this song but I can understand why plenty of fans dont. The two following tracks entitled '10 More Dead' and 'Destructos vs The Earth/Attack' kind of continues this nu metal trend only including more of the classic MA traits throughout. The latter of these tracks is a monstrous 7 minute effort that wouldnt look too out of place from a Marilyn Manson album (until the last 30 seconds that is an unexpected blast from the past). The final track repeats the 'pseudo d n b infused death metal' attempt of 'Too Extreme!' that sounds rather like Maximum the Hormone (Mad Japanese experimental band famous for creating the second Deathnote theme). This is a very strange track that sounds rather annoying thanks to the jarring keyboard effects (especially in the middle section) and is a rather fitting outro to such a weak and devastating excuse of an album by a leader of the genre.And now for the main offender: RADIKULT....
Sounding like a second rate Manson rip off with some of the most cringeworthy vocals to come out of the death metal genre ever (and thats really saying something). The verses are highly reminiscent of Marilyn Manson's 'Irresponsible Hate Anthem' with the whispers over the lone bass rhythm before the guitar chord stabs and the screams. Both the guitars and drums are uncharacteristically basic with 2 note shifts and mainly simple 4/4 playing. The lyrics are awful with examples including such lines as 'we've been crossing the line since 1989', 'living hardcore radical' and, of course, the repetitive chanting of 'kill-a-cop' in some of the instrumental sections. Not only is this a reversal of their regular style, its also not even a good example of how this particular song is made. Generic, boring, cringeworthy and repetitive... Arguably Morbid Angel's lowest point in their career.
The artwork is a real eye catcher and is very characteristic of the band, despite not having the same intricacy that they usually employ for their covers. The simplicity is alike that of Covenant, allowing the basic imagery to let the music take precedence.
Although I never really considered Morbid Angel to be the most masterful/philosophical lyric writers, they still managed to cater to the dark, anti-religious ideals that they were known for. Simple, blunt and aggressive with more than a hint of blasphemy, they were certainly fitting with their sound and style and had at least an iota of intelligence and musical curiosity. This album, however, takes that ideal and throws it in the bin (for the majority of the time). Simplistic, cheesy and cliche phrases for song titles and choruses have many fans cringing and with good reason. These lyrics are not up to the standard that the band are usually at, no matter how derivative they were before. David Vincent's voice throughout is rather good but at times, you feel shocked to be hearing these kind of pathetic lines from his iconic growl. His clean vocals (previously heard on God of Emptiness, etc) also make an appearance in a few places.
Just their iconic logo, the title of the album and a strange bone like sculpture...
1. Omni Potens
2. Too Extreme!
3. Existo Vulgare
4. Blades For Baal
5. I Am Morbid
6. 10 More Dead
7. Destructos vs The Earth/Attack
9. Beauty Meets Beast
11. Profundis - Mea Culpa
All in all, Illud Divinum Insanus is a weak comeback when compared to their classics of the late 80s/early 90s. This may be an unfair comparison but this fall from grace was truly unexpected which obviously added to the final disappointment that begun the aforementioned massive backlash. This could be widely regarded as Morbid Angel's version of 'St Anger': The Metallica album that caused a storm in 2003 when it attempted to introduce new dynamics (and remove some important factors), making a largely generic and misunderstood nu metal influenced piece that still is a controversial topic when considering the credibility and integrity of some metal bands. It is true that there are satisfactory songs on here that no doubt some will love but on the whole, this really isnt strong enough to hold its own among a crowd of bands that are still making great albums (ie Deicide, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse, Atheist). Im all for experimentation in music but this does not always mean that it is automatically going to be successful and it certainly doesnt make someone closed minded because they dont like it. As with all experiments there is a risk that something will go wrong and unfortunately this is not Morbid Angel's time to shine but I do not feel that this is the end of the band as we know it. Lets just hope that the next release takes a lot less that 8 years to surface.
As much as this may alienate a large sum of the older fans, I have a feeling that this could be a great thing for attracting listeners who would have previously avoided Morbid Angel (or death metal as a whole). Songs like Radikult and Im Morbid could be considered repulsive to many fans of the extreme style of the band which is understandable. This sort of experimentation or diversification in an artist like this isnt uncommon but it is rarely without some kind of backlash or fan division involved.With this in mind, I would recommend this to the more open minded Morbid Angel or to a fan of more mainstream metal. Unless you have an experienced aquaintance (ie older brother/friend) who is interested in extreme music and thus introduces you to these acts, it can be very difficult to discover the subgenres. Death metal in particular is a very niche style that can put off a lot of people before they even get a chance to properly research it and this is where I believe this album has its strength. Due to the catchier/less extreme metal tracks, more listeners may be inclined to put their efforts into introducing themselves to the rest of their back catalogue.
In short, even though this may seen like a bit of a down point on the Morbid Angel front, I believe that there will be some good to come out of this....In the mean time, make sure you have at least the first four albums (not including Abominations of Desolation)
Altars of Madness, Blessed Are The Sick, Covenant and Domination
Product Information : Illud Divinum Insanus - Morbid Angel
Manufacturer's product description1 CD(s) - Death Metal - Label: Season of Mist - Distributor: Plastic Head, Code7/Plastic Head - Released: 06/06/2011 - 822603322224, 822603322255, 822603122220, 822603922226
EAN: 822603322224, 822603322255, 822603122220, 822603922226
Listed on Ciao since: 18/07/2011