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Album Review
Morbid Angel - Illud Divinum Insanus Album Cover

Morbid Angel - Illud Divinum Insanus

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2.9
Morbid Angel - Illud Divinum Insanus
Record Label: Seasons of Mist
Release Date: June 7, 2011
One look at the track listing for Illud Divinum Insanus, and one can't help but laugh. Song titles like "Too Extreme!," "I Am Morbid” and "Radikult" come across as corny, almost as if this was a release from a Spinal Tap-esque send up of Morbid Angel. However, this is a real album and they are being serious. Eight years have passed since the band's last release, 2003's Heretic, and in that time, Morbid Angel have apparently discovered the Marilyn Manson back catalogue, as The Antichrist Superstar's influence is abundant on this album.

This is the first record to feature original Morbid Angel vocalist/bassist David Vincent since their 1995 release, Domination. The band also enlisted former Hate Eternal drummer Tim Yeung and added second guitarist Thor Anders Myhren, aka Destructhor. This lineup looked to many like a promising gesture, spurring talk of a return to form after the lukewarm-received Heretic. However, instead of a triumphant comeback from one of death metal's founding fathers, fans got a directionless, confusing mishmash of industrial, electronic and nu-metal stylings clumsily shoehorned into the band's death metal approach. While Heretic may have been met with mild enthusiasm, it was far from a terrible record and the band was anything but broken. Nonetheless, Morbid Angel resolved to fix what wasn't broken by revamping their time-honored brand of death metal and ushering in a puzzling amount of unusual influences, resulting in the worst record of the band's career to date.

The album begins with "Omni Potens," a lumbering orchestral track that sounds something like a battalion of Orcs marching into a high school band class mid-practice. The aim is supposedly to give the album a sinister introduction, but it just makes the listener want to skip ahead to the next song - unless, of course, they happen to read the title of that song beforehand. "Too Extreme!" is a lazy attempt at nu-metal brutality, with cringe-inducing lyrics such as, "Demanding nothing less/but to Make you scream/we're too extreme!" Delivered in what sounds like a poor impersonation of David Vincent, the song is rampant with awkward synth samples intercut with poorly-placed electronic drum patterns and guitar parts that sound as if Trey Azagthoth and Destructhor merely took a batch of unused riffs and strung them together without logical segues or progressions. At 6:13, the song is one long mess that strives for "epic" but never really goes anywhere at all.

Hope is somewhat restored with the following two tracks, however. "Existo Vulgoré" and "Blades for Baal" harken back to the Morbid Angel of old, never straying from the riff-heavy blast beat metal attack that the band has become known for. While these songs aren't quite great, they are listenable and a welcome relief from the mind-numbing previous two tracks. Morbid Angel continues this trend on "10 More Dead" and "I Am Morbid," and though these songs feature even more laughable lyricism and some awkward song structure, they're still more or less within the realm of Morbid Angel-brand death metal. There may be no glaring samples, odd interludes or electronic effects, but these songs still come across as rather phoned-in, almost as an afterthought, as if the band realized they weren't making the death metal album fans would be expecting and decided to throw in a few hastily assembled tracks.

And just when things seem to be relatively safe, we return to pain-inducing banality with "Destructos Vs. the Earth/Attack." The song is another case of the band striving for something different but achieving nothing short of pure comedy. The song is a lethargic death march, sounding like the ungodly hatefuck child of Static-X and Combichrist, with a little Marilyn Manson thrown in for good measure. If it were still 1999, this song would be the head-banging anthem of Tripp pants-wearing trailer park denizens the Midwest over. If this sounds bad, it gets worse. This song clocks in at 7:15, the second longest song on the record. It's with this song alone that any previous glimmers of hope are undone, effectively Jar Jar Binks'd into a realm of "what the fuck were they thinking?"-land.

It's at this point that the will to go on teeters on the brink of death. However the band cleverly inserts "Nevermore" immediately after "Drstructos," attempting to reel them back in with another riff-heavy nuclear blast of death metal guitar frenzy. It's a relatively enjoyable track, featuring some impressive fretwork. Ultimately, it fails to wash out the bad taste left by the song it succeeds. "Beauty Meets Beast" is another case of "oh shit, right, we're a death metal band" that ultimately fails to deliver any kind of memorable riffs or hooks. It's not absolutely unlistenable, but it does suffer from a case of over-length, its only truly commendable moment being a surprisingly inspired guitar solo towards the end.

Then we come to "Radikult". Perhaps the most infamous song of the album's eleven tracks, this song takes everything that is bad about this album, every moment of failure within its' one hour runtime and crams it all into one song. Beginning with a funk-groove drum beat over a thumping bass line, the intro features what initially sounds like David Vincent quietly chanting "Kill a cop, kill a cop!". Upon further inspection it's revealed that the true lyric is "killer cult", but that doesn't make things any less embarrassing. Nearly eight minutes in length, "Radikult" is a crash course in how to not write a good or memorable song. It's got it all. Terrible lyrics? Check. ("We've been crossing the line since 1989!"). Cheese-fest Marilyn Manson impersonation? Check. Half-assed vocal performance? Check. Finally, the song concludes on another Orc-march chant that mercifully ends the worst song in the Morbid Angel canon. "Profundis - Mea Culpa" ends things on a grim note, treating the listener to yet another aimless corn-metal dirge that features an ample amount of blast beats - performed on electronic drum samples. It's yet another event in a long series of puzzling decisions made by Morbid Angel, one of the genre's most respected and highly regarded units. But that respect takes a crippling hit with Illud Divinum Insanus and it's uncertain whether or not the band can ever truly recover from it. Sure, their past albums are still well in tact and remain the classic that they are, but it remains to be seen whether or not Morbid Angel will recuperate on future releases. Or if there'll even be future releases.

There's a commonly thrown around comparison amongst fans that this is the St. Anger of death metal, referring to Metallica's infamous 2003 foray into nu-metal. It's a rather apt comparison, as both records share many of the same basic traits - a supposed "comeback" album featuring a retooled line-up, released to an avalanche of negative reception and a feeling of betrayal within the ranks of long-time fans. It's not a bad thing when a band is willing to experiment - just look at the likes of Brand New. But when that experimentation comes across as a contrived effort to reach a new demographic rather than an honest attempt at expanding collective horizons, it results more often than not in loss of direction. In loss of identity and integrity. Such is the case with Illud Divinum Insanus. Unsure whether they want to be death metal, industrial, or nu-metal, Morbid Angel suffer from an acute identity crisis on this record, leaving even newcomers scratching their heads. In the end, the album amounts to a blemish on an otherwise near-spotless career. If Morbid Angel can recover, and someday win back the hearts of the fans they've alienated with this release, is still in the air. Metallica certainly returned to from with Death Magnetic, a welcoming embrace of everything that made them who they are to begin with. So if they can turn things around, why not Morbid Angel? Only time will tell.

Recommended If You Like:Marilyn Manson, Combichrist, Rammstein

myspace.com/morbidangelofficial
This review is a user submitted review from CellarGhosts. You can see all of CellarGhosts's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 5 of 5
08:46 PM on 07/26/11
#2
eatbabiesyum
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yeah this disapointed every fan they had

and as much as i love industrial, this is one way not to do it.
09:00 PM on 07/26/11
#3
CellarGhosts
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yeah this disapointed every fan they had

and as much as i love industrial, this is one way not to do it.
Yeah for sure. I'm open to industrial so long as it's done right. It's not my favorite genre or anything but I can get into some of it. (Circle of Animals are one band I like a lot). But this is just...no.

Hell, to go back to the St. Anger comparison I think this album is even more of a misstep than that record was for Metallica. At least with that album I could kind of understand where they were coming from or why they were doing what they were doing, even if I didn't like it. This is just confusing in every way, haha.
01:49 AM on 07/27/11
#4
eatbabiesyum
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Yeah for sure. I'm open to industrial so long as it's done right. It's not my favorite genre or anything but I can get into some of it. (Circle of Animals are one band I like a lot). But this is just...no.

Hell, to go back to the St. Anger comparison I think this album is even more of a misstep than that record was for Metallica. At least with that album I could kind of understand where they were coming from or why they were doing what they were doing, even if I didn't like it. This is just confusing in every way, haha.
Yeah it really is, my metal friends are heart broken over this. Shame to happen to such a great band
03:39 PM on 07/28/11
#5
UpperNinety
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I find it interesting that they went in a direction such as this...It's laughable, but then again...many fans are crying.

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