Morbid Angel
Illud Divinum Insanus
Style: Death Metal and stuff
Release date: 6 June, 2011
Playing time: 56:43

If I were to, admittedly in a crude fashion, outline two camps of musicians, I would probably speak of on the one hand the craftsmen and on the other the artists. My model wouldn't be flawless and there would be a zillion border examples that could be used to punch as many holes in my thesis, but, please, humour me and go with the argument.

The craftsmen of the music business typically settle on one genre only. They know that genre by heart, they live it, they breathe it and they deliver within the framework of the genre to perfection. They may well serve as inspiration for others, but it is usually for their provess, strength and knowledge of the genre. They carry the genre to the border and no further.

Examples: Immolation, very death metal, very cool, however never breaking any boundaries. Testament, excellent second generation Bay Area thrash metal band, even if there have been flirts with death metal, they remain the epitomy of thrash and amazingly so.

The artists are fewer in number that the craftsmen. They are characterised by an urge to constantly undergo a change. The artists may be deeply rooted in one genre, but will constantly challenge the framework and drive the genre in various musical directions - directions that purist fans will not always approve of.

The artists will not care much for the opinion of the general public, but will insist on doing what they will believe is right.
More than often, artists run into a situation where they become craftsmen and genre carriers rather than genre instigators, reasons being either financial or stalling creativity.

Examples: Pestilence are always changing the recipe for their albums, even if the foundation is death metal pure. Death, with the late Chuck Shuldiner, the man and the band that gave death metal its name, kept pushing the bar for technicality in death metal. Metallica were artists up until 'St. Anger', which was the point when they started doing exactly what they believed the public wanted rather than what they wanted themselves.

This finally leads me to the progenitors of a multitude of the bands I listen to promos and official releases from in my capacity as reviewer for this webzine. It is amazing how significant Morbid Angel have been to the metal genre - these four guys from Tampa, Florida, who already with the release of 'Altars of Madness' (1989) sent shock waves through the death metal world.

With every new album, Morbid Angel went through the same process as Metallica had done before them: fans left and new tagged along. Those who fanatically adored 'Altars...' couldn't necessarily make sense of 'Blessed Are The Sick' (1991), and 'Covenant' (1993) made new friends for the band and made others again skip them. 'Domination' (1995), my personal favourite among the impressive Morbid Angel back catalogue, of course did the same.

When Dave Vincent left Morbid Angel, and Steve Tucker became the front figure of the band, it was as if Trey Azagthot's madness/genius took over entirely, resulting in three albums that were in many ways absolutely brilliant, but in my ears never held the catchiness that Vincent's influence always ensured in the previous albums. In my ears, those three albums are for the major part introvert doodling, a feeling that was strenghtened by Tucker's grunting vocal style that was no match to Dave Vincent's.

Not only the power of Vincent's vocal chords is back in the fold; the catchiness is back with this new and anxiously awaited album. It's as if the death metal community has held its breath the past few months as more and more people have realised that there will actually be a new album from Trey and Dave. 'Will it be another 'Domination'? Will it be a new 'Covenant'? Oh, I really hope so!' 'Will they do something completely insane?'

Well, the answer is this: If there were only purists in the death metal community, 'Illud Divinum Insanus' is certainly commercial suicide! Already now you can see people on facebook slamming Morbid Angel for one of the songs that have been released in advance. 'It's industrial! For f*ck's f*ck! What have they done! I'll never listen to this shit again!'

Oh, but hang on: Think back for a second. Were you one of those who tagged along when 'Covenant' came out and marked a departure from what Morbid Angel had done on 'Blessed...' and most certainly from what 'Altars...' was all about? Or did you stick from the beginning and listen with an open mind when a new album came out?

Look, I belong to the latter group. I started out with 'Altars...' and I loved 'Blessed...' and still do. 'Covenant' is not my favourite death metal album of all time, but it was still miles in front of much of the competition back then, trust me. 'Domination' made me surrender completely (no pun intended), and you know what, I like what Morbid Angel has done with 'Illud Divinum Insanus' too.

My first thought when I eagerly started the Media Player after receiving the promo copy? 'I knew it! They had to do this! How could they not do this?'

It could have been country music, it could have been grunge, but anyway you have it, I would expect Morbid Angel in this situation to do something radical. And do you know why I think they decided to do not one, but three industrial tracks (and not just short ones, they're quite long)? I think they LIKE it.

Remember when Laibach remixed God of Emptiness and Sworn to the Black back in 1994? Do you think Morbid Angel let them do that because they didn't like what Laibach were doing? I don't think so. They've built on what Laibach did back then and made it even more industrial in a death metal way. Too Extreme! will never be my favourite song, admittedly, and a tad too long it is too, but Destructos VS the Earth/Attack is one hell of a stomper, carried by a simple riff and beat along with Dave's powerful vocal performance. Radikult, well, again not one that will be an all-time favourite of mine, but still an acceptable piece of music by all means.

Whatever complaints there will be, these pieces along with the intro Omni Potens ensure that Morbid Angel got everyone's attention - I'm tempted to say that they caught most of us with our proverbial pants down.

And whatever complaints about these industrial tunes there might be out there, fact remains that the rest of the album deliver the death metal goods in a way that tends to leave me more impressed with every listen. The details, the brutality, the speed, the heaviness - it's all there. There's the obscenely groovy 10 More Dead. There's the in parts ridiculously fast Nevermore and ditto Blades for Baal. There's the death metal hymn I Am Morbid, one we'll most likely hear at Wacken this summer.

If you're worried that Pete Sandoval's back problems has lessened the experience, be not afraid: Tim Yeung is just as scary behind the kit!

In my definition, this is a piece of art. Appreciate or don't, I think it's massive and is certainly one of the most important releases of this year.

I Am Morbid!


01. Omni Potens
02. Too Extreme!
03. Existo Vulgoré
04. Blades for Baal
05. I Am Morbid
06. 10 More Dead
07. Destructos VS the Earth/Attack
08. Nevermore
09. Beauty Meets Beast
10. Radikult
11. Profundis - Mea Culpa

Label: Season of Mist
Distribution: Target (Denmark)
Artwork rating: 80/100
Reviewed by: Thomas Nielsen
Date: 6 June, 2011