Morbid Angel - _Illud Divinum Insanus_
(Season of Mist, 2011)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (2 out of 10)
OK, so the new Morbid Angel album has finally arrived, and I feel I should state a couple of facts first before diving into it. As a drummer, I have immense respect for Pete Sandoval and his work since Morbid Angel stormed the English alphabet with _Altars of Madness_ in 1989. As a death metal fan, I had admired the output of the Trey Azagthoth / David Vincent duo up until they parted ways after 1995's landmark _Domination_. I've intentionally used the present tense with Pete Sandoval, because he didn't lay down the drums on _Illud Divinum Insanus_, and used the past tense for the Azagthoth / Vincent duo, because they are responsible for this fifty-six minute aural equivalent of drinking hot water on a mid-June afternoon after walking around the streets of Cairo all day in the scorching sun.

Call me optimistic, but when metal fans were flooding the interweb a couple of years ago with YouTube footage of a new Morbid Angel track, I positively responded and I enjoyed it too. That orphan of a song which they called "Nevermore" gave me some hope that this pivotal death metal band was taking its sweet time in crafting an album that would explode in my face and have me thinking up excuses to explain my sore neck to my boss the morning after. But alas, the truth turned out to be a shocking disappointment, with every possible meaning that expression can hold.

_Illud Divinum Insanus_ is insanely un-death metal to the extent that it's not even acceptably experimental. It's true that some bands require an intermediary album or two when they come to change their sounds because it may take time to unearth the old roots, but this one flew uncontrollably off the rails. The introductory insult "Omni Potens" drags on pointlessly with an embarrassingly synthetic brass background and the pathetic "Too Extreme!" doesn't help rectify anything at all. The most annoying thing about "Too Extreme!", aside from the exclamation mark of course, is how the bass drum sounds, which is like something from a Super Mario game from the '90s; way back in the days when Morbid Angel actually made good music.

You'd think the horror would stop when "Blades for Baal" kicks off, but my goodness; even Tim Yeung's snare drum sounds very weak here, and then "I Am Morbid", which would need a few spins to impress even a drunk teenager, comes along and pisses all over its predecessor. On a related note, "Destructos Vs. the Earth / Attack" happens to be the most irritating, idiotic and immature excuse for a metal song I've ever heard, but I feel obliged to give them credit for giving it an equally irritating, idiotic and immature name. Anyway, by the time you reach the aforementioned "Nevermore", a state of utter disbelief would have befallen you and will never go away even after multiple listens; at least that's what happened with me.

Sometimes we just have to face reality and admit that some great bands from the past will be just great bands from the past. I think all I can say at this juncture is that I may have been hasty in dubbing The Haunted's _Unseen_ as flop of the year. I realize now that this metalloid of an album Morbid Angel decided to drop on our unsuspectingly betrayed heads is a much worthy title contender.


(article published 26/6/2011)

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