I wrote this about a month after the much disputed death metal titans return to productivity. I’m uploading it now because one year has passed and people seem to still give this album a hard time and I seem to be the only person who actually likes it.
Last year, after seven years away, a band with their name on the biggest selling death metal album ever made returned with a long awaited new album. It came after several years of pissing about.
Iconic frontman Dave Vincent had randomly left and joined his wife’s sort of awful industrial metal band Genitorturers and Azagthoth and the rest of the band were making fairly bland death metal albums to get by. But then things got better and in 2006, Vincent rejoined the band and the hype began for when they would finally release a comeback album. They did, and seemingly their entire fan base called bullshit on the entire thing and smashed their copies, while a few music critics thought it was decent, and the band have still stuck by their decision to release it have said “they’ll figure it out”. I personally seriously wonder why people were surprised by the different direction it went in as all the signs were pointing to it and really would like to know what the hell else they wanted from Morbid Angel at this point and why the hell something different isn’t good news.
Morbid Angel are one of the biggest and most credible death metal bands going, they’re probably the biggest alongside Cannibal Corpse and maybe Deicide, and I can definitely see why their decision to change their musical direction can be seen as disappointing by some. Let’s be honest though, Morbid Angel haven’t done anything particularly brilliant since 1995. Seriously, who the hell liked Heretic and Formulas Fatal to the Flesh that much? Yeah, alright, they were death metal by the numbers and fairly okay, but nothing that really engendered a reaction. Illud Divinum Insanus on the other hand, for all its faults, at least it made you look up and realise that Morbid Angel are at least still here. As much as fans may talk about the brilliance of Blessed are the Sick, Altars of Madness and Covenant, those were albums made twenty years ago and to be honest, how many of you who bitch about Illud Divinum Insanus were listening twenty years ago? Yeah, exactly, I thought so.
This is not to say their old stuff has dated and Morbid Angel are living on nostalgia value alone. Blessed are the Sick still hasn’t aged a day unlike a hell of a lot of death metal from the early 90’s. If a band are still relevant then their continued existence is worthwhile. But on the other hand, however ageless their early work is, they’re still artists, creators of stuff. And so it’s only natural they would want to try something new, whether it happens to be any good or not.
Speaking of which: Illud Divinum Insanus. Coming up with a title must have been difficult. I mean alphabetical title ordering is really gonna screw them over if they reach Q or X.
The strange thing about this album in question is that most of the hate seems to have been lumped onto David Vincent. I can see why, he came back after being in an industrial band, they released an industrial…well, sort of, album, fans put two and two together. Completely forgetting that since day one it has been pretty much clear that its Azagthoth ‘s band, and as is obvious, it takes four to techno…..wow, such a bad pun, I’m really slipping. I’ve scoured youtube video comments of interviews with the guy and live versions of the new songs and everything anyone has to say about the band is “Dave Vincent is gay” “why does he wear a cowboy hat? He looks like a gay stripper” “quit letting Gen dress you Dave, you gay gayer” …okay, are we still fucking two? Are we still immature enough to think gay is an insult? We know Dave is not gay, so why is that an insult? Also, gay is not a fashion trend, people can dress how they want. You may say “she’s corrupted him, he used to be cool” …he’s in love with her you dipshits, it’s not like Gen from Genitorturers has fucking hypnotised him and turned him into this “old faggot” as you put it. Yeah, alright, some of the stuff he says in between songs is a little cringe-worthy, but who the fuck cares if he can still sing the songs?
“Well no because now he doesn’t growl, it doesn’t sound like it used to even though there’s no fucking way I could have seen them live back in the day when Dave was in the band because I’m fucking twelve”. Well yeah, Dave doesn’t growl anymore, he more just shouts, its why I think most of the album that’s heavier sounds more like latter day Slayer more than anything, but is that a bad thing? He’s obviously just making sure he can still talk after the show because like it or not, growling and screaming in a metal band fucks up your voice. Ever seen an interview with Corpsegrinder from Cannibal Corpse? And hell, he’s lucky he can still do it at all, most people end up completely losing their voices by this point in their careers. That and, all these complaints about Vincent being gay and his voice sounds different didn’t actually arise until after the album surfaced and was revealed to be slightly techno. “Well no, because I always had these complaints because I saw them live before the album.” Bollocks did you think that, you had the time of your fucking life because that was Morbid Angel playing Fall from Grace, Maze of Torment and all the other classics. And if you’re seriously complaining about the way a person looks and think that has anything to do with the music they make, then get out of my fucking genre and go watch Britain’s Got Talent and the X-factor if looks are all that’s important to you.
Illud Divinum Insanus, whatever you think of the album as a whole, the whole controversy about it seems to be rooted in a few bad decisions and oversights on the part of the band. I wouldn’t say Metallica post-1996 bad decisions, as Morbid Angel aren’t nearly big enough that would create such a massive ego boost. But specifically in the way they approached Illud Divinum Insanus’ production and the way this fit in with their fan base. I can tell why people felt cheated even though I don’t agree with the reasons.
I think one of the primary strokes of awful decision making was the ordering of the tracks on the album. It’s aspects like this that have made people who have only been listening to Deicide and literally nothing else for the last seven years claim that the actual proper death metal is literally absent and barely visible. I would probably say this is because they smashed you in the face with what they’d done straight from the off with the industrial stomping grind of “Too Extreme”. I’m not opposed to any sort of band playing any sort of music they find preferable in terms of genre, admittedly if Mayhem or Behemoth made a dubstep album I’d certainly raise an eyebrow, but if Morbid Angel still wanted to be Morbid Angel and do this, it probably should have been over the gradual progression of the album from one thing into another. Unlike other death metal fans, I prefer to have awful things sneak up on me and surprise me. Not knowing what’s coming next spices up my awful, awful life.
As opposed to:
- Omni Potens
- Too Extreme!
- Existo Vulgoré
- Blades for Baal
- I am Morbid
- 10 More Dead
- Destructos vs. The Earth/Attack
- Beauty Meets Beast
- Profundis – Mea Culpa
You would have this:
- Omni Potens
- 10 More Dead
- Beauty Meets Beast
- Existo Vulgoré
- Blades for Baal
- I am Morbid
- Too Extreme!
- Destructos vs. The Earth/Attack
- Profundis – Mea Culpa
That’s if you needed to have the “less death metal” tracks in the first place. As a work as a whole, it would at least transform as the album progressed into something more industrial sounding, it wouldn’t just come right the fuck out of nowhere. Then death metal fans may just say that the second half is shit, as opposed to saying it’s the St. Anger of death metal.
Being a death metal St. Anger is a comparison people are only making because it’s a disappointing comeback album after several years away, musically speaking, Illud Divinum Insanus is nothing like St. Anger in any way shape or form. For one thing, whether you think the songs are good or bad, they at least stand out as songs. It’s not just sixty minutes of sonic mush, its actual songs, which, hey, whether you think it’s worth saying or not is still something in the album’s favour.
So anyway, what I thought of each song:
Omni Potens: So we get this slow grinding chanting with some symphonic sampling over the top. It’s a fairly atmospheric opening, though does make me think of the monks from Monty Python and the Holy Grail smashing themselves in their faces.
Too Extreme!: …wow, they’re really not wasting any time in changing shit up here, are they? Okay, I admit it could have been two to three minutes shorter, six is really pushing it for something as repetitive as this. You could say I’m biased because outside black and death, I love industrial metal. It kind of sounds like a heavier and louder version of Ministry more than anything else. I mean Dave’s been in his wife’s industrial goth metal band for a few years, so it wasn’t exactly surprising that Dave would want to try and get the others to do something different with the pre-established Morbid Angel sound. I know it’s not exactly innovative. That’s the problem; people that hate this album just hate Morbid Angel for trying to be something they’re not, others say it’s daring and innovative when it isn’t. It’s just delving into an area Morbid Angel have never explored before. And I like it. It’s not what we expected, but we have hundreds of death metal bands doing what we expect, I appreciate being surprised. And it’s not awful, it’s just slightly industrial and a bit too long….and yes the whole “too extreme!” while not really being all that extreme irony is very funny, whatever. Yes, the lyrics are bollocks, get used to it, we have another 50 minutes to go yet…
Existo Vulgoré: Now…if you call this anything other than death metal, I don’t know how you can actively call yourself a fan of death metal. I know it’s not particularly growly. Vincent doesn’t growl on this album as much as he just shouts, but where’s the harm in that? It is music, and this bears more resemblance to melodic death metal bands we have today like In Flames, Arch Enemy or Gojira than it does Ministry or Genitorturers…seriously people, a sense of perspective.
Blades for Baal: I’d say this is more geared towards the classic Morbid Angel fan. It has some unnecessary bits of overproduced sampling, but Morbid Angel have used sampling before, so what’s the big deal? The lyrics are complete bollocks again, but come on people, perspective here; it’s fast and angry…problem?
I am Morbid: ….seriously why do you people hate this album so much? People seem to get tetchy when this is played live, and I have seen some complaints from people who just want death metal and nothing else that its doom shit. Which it is, this one is probably the only pure doom metal song Morbid Angel have written, but if you’re a metal fan and don’t have an appreciation for doom metal then I have no fucking clue what you’re doing in this genre. It’s slower but it’s still heavy as fuck. And yes alright, bollocks lyrics again, but if the music’s good enough it shouldn’t really matter.
10 More Dead: Probably my favourite track on the album. It starts off with this grinding slow riff before it explodes into a faster and angrier mash of solos. It creates a good atmosphere for a death metal song, which is what Morbid Angel are best at. There’s no industrial or sampling either. Why they don’t play it live when I’m pretty sure it would get a better reaction than I am Morbid, I don’t really know.
Destructos vs. The Earth/Attack: And we get reminded why people hate this album. This was my overall problem with Illud Divinum Insanus: it’s not so much diverse as it is schizophrenic. It’s like they started making this industrial tinged death metal album when they realised it would probably piss the fans off and tacked some of the regular death metal tracks like 10 More Dead on for good measure. And yes, it sounds like Rob Zombie, Slipknot, etc, I’ve heard it all before about this album. Seriously though, Too Extreme! Radikult and this one are the only songs on this album I’d say were out of left field, at least for a band like Morbid Angel. They probably aren’t going to make a habit of it and if they’re glad they did it, then hell, the rest of the album’s fine as it is. I personally don’t mind this one, though like with Too Extreme! It’s a bit repetitive and two or three minutes too long for what it is, it’s not too bad though.
Nevermore: This was the first track they debuted off the album. It’s strange how almost all the time bands debut a track that is completely indicative of what the album won’t be. It’s far too loud and far too heavy, it’s fast and furious and will probably be the only track off this album fans will like and want to hear live in the future…and yes, it is one of the highlights of the album even though I’ve been defending their “different” tracks, the loud, fast and heavy stuff is what they’re better at.
Beauty meets Beast: …okay, yes, lyrics and title, bollocks, we know the lyrics of this album are bollocks. I can look past it though. Like before, this track has that heavy grind that past ones have had prior to an explosion of mental riffing on the part of Azagthoth. Pure Morbid Angel.
As for Radikult: …okay, I’m going to go out on a limb and defend the harshly slated “kill a cop” on grounds of tongue in cheek. I wouldn’t say it’s a definite a likelihood Vincent and co wrote this just to piss people off, but it does have a certain air of irony about it. “We’ve been crossing the lines since 1989”, I mean how can anyone expect to try and take that line seriously and not see it as Morbid Angel clearly coming out and saying that metal, and death metal in particular, is all about aggression. It’s about saying fuck you to convention. If they turned up seven years after Heretic and with their old frontman back with a comeback album that’s just like the last seven, would we still give a shit? Did you need to add another potential Blessed are the Sick to your CD collection? We already have Blessed are the Sick and Altars of Madness, what we need is a new album, and that’s what this was. But Radikult does seem to have just been written as a fuck you to everyone that will hate it, which is personally a statement I can get behind. Morbid Angel have never been about trying to impress you. They have never been about trying to mollycoddle you and help you live your life, the fact that they have is just a coincidence. Radikult isn’t, as some might have said, about displaying how much of an old fart Dave Vincent is nowadays, yeah like people say “radical” anymore, and yeah spelling cult with a k, yeah that’s cool EVIL D. What Radikult actually is, is Morbid Angel telling people to go fuck themselves and if you feel that means you as a fan, are being told to go fuck yourself for buying this, fine, that’s your reaction. I on the other hand find it cool that Vincent and co wrote this song to try and fuck with people, if that was in fact the idea. That and, it’s seriously not that bad guys. Yes, it’s a little bit like nu-metal and the lyrics are completely fucking stupid but honestly, if you’re listening to death metal and lyrics and song titles are a big enough issue for you to dedicate entire paragraphs of review to, you deserve this song. You deserve to be told to fuck yourself.
Profundis – Mea Culpa: Which in Latin means “profoundly – I am sorry”. This kind of scuppers my theory that Morbid Angel wrote the previous song as a fuck you. Well, it’s an industrial outro thing that, if by the end of you haven’t liked it isn’t going to change your opinions.
So yeah, overall, not much of a surprise given Dave’s career in Genitorturers and their wanting to do something outside their comfort zone, but different in terms of Morbid Angel albums. You may say “that’s bollocks; you may say all this shit about it actually not being that bad for industrial metal, but AHHH!!! I FUCKING HATE IT!” But hell, at least it made you feel something about a Morbid Angel album. I wouldn’t be able to write three hundred words about Heretic or Formulas Fatal to the Flesh. In fact if I did, I’d probably struggle after the sentence: “a bland, uninspiring and pointless addition to my CD collection”. Illud Divinum Insanus is highly flawed, and the way it was marketed was fucking ridiculous but I’m just glad it wasn’t boring and it was good enough for me to see past its flaws.
I’m not giving a star rating because although I personally like it, I admit there were some poor decision behind it that make it less a product than I think it deserves to be.
If you don’t like it, they only usually play 2 or 3 tracks off it live because you lot winged about it so much and you still have Blessed are the Sick and Altars of Madness, go listen to those again.