When it comes to the overall development of extreme metal in general and death metal in particular, no one can deny the pivotal role Morbid Angel played in the late eighties and nineties. Albums like “Altars Of Madness”, “Blessed Are The Sick” and “Covenant” are landmark releases which helped to shape death metal genre as we know it today. The last couple of years things were pretty quiet in the Morbid Angel camp, besides a couple of reunion shows to celebrate the return of David Vincent. Eight years after the release of the ill fated “Heretic” Trey Azagthoth and Co return to front with “Illud Divinum Insanus”, their latest offering…
After a somewhat tedious intro the album starts with a really weird experimental song. Morbid Angel always had a fondness for using synths and electronics in their music from 1995’s “Domination” on, but it’s reaching new heights on tracks like ‘Too Extreme!’, ‘Destructos VS The Earth’, ‘Radikult’ and ‘Profundis – Mea Culpa’. Is it any good? No, not at all. ‘Too Extreme!’ is a sad attempt to combine death metal guitar riffs with some industrial elements with gabber/techno beats forming the foundation. It could have been something if someone like Aaron Funk (Venetian Snares) had produced the beats, but in its current form the composition is downright pathetic. ‘Destructos Vs The Earth’ is equally bad, it reminds me of Boney M with a firm disco beat. ‘Radikult’ isn’t that bad, but it’s still lacking in style and purpose. ‘Mea Culpa – The Profundis’ is pretty self explanatory. Simply avoid.
“Illud Divinum Insanus” has its share of more traditional death metal tracks as well, mostly in the vein of “Covenant” and “Domination”. Compositions like ‘Existo Vulgore’, ‘Blades For Baal’, ’10 More Dead’ and ‘Nevermore’ are catchy, but they pale in comparison to genuine Morbid Angel classics like ‘Chapel Of Ghouls’, ‘Rapture’, ‘Where The Slime Live’ and ‘God Of Emptiness’. Trey Azagthoth still displays his skills as a guitarist with some tasteful guitar solos and the grunts by David Vincent sound vaguely familiar, but it doesn’t save “Illud Divinum Insanus” from being a mediocre album at best. The incredible cheesy lyrics don’t help either. Hell, even the kings of the Danish blue, Manowar, would be ashamed of composing a track like ‘I Am Morbid’. Sound-wise the new album is a slight improvement compared to “Heretic”, but the production is still flimsy, to say the least.
“Illud Divinum Insanus” isn’t exactly the grand return to form everyone was expecting from them after an eight year hiatus. The traditional death metal tracks sound incredibly dated and the gabber/techno/industrial songs are basically failed experiments. You could say this is the extreme metal version of “Chinese Democracy”… If you want some kick ass death metal I’d suggest the latest albums by Obscura, Nader Sadek and Hate Eternal. Enough said!