Review : MORBID ANGEL – "Illud Divinum Insanus"

Morbid Angel – Illud Divinum Insanus
Release: 2011Jun07 (US)
Label: Season of Mist
Rating: 2.5/5

I like Devin Townsend a lot. When I first heard Strapping Young Lad, I appreciated the inspired creativity of an obvious lunatic who had somehow channeled madness into the heaviest, most focused metal my 25-year-old self had then experienced. I further explored his rocky beginnings with Vai, but more importantly, things he recorded under different titles like Devin Townsend Band, Devin Townsend Project, or fucking Ziltoid the Omniscient—point is, dude acknowledges anomalies.

Clearly.

And for a label who has recently released visionary, genre-bending creations from Deathspell Omega, Watain, Atheist, Kylesa, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Cynic, it makes me wonder [in my best AVGN impression]: what were they thinking?! Season of Mist’s promo for Illud Divinum Insanus reads like baby town frolics, rife with misspellings and sub-Wikipedia level research. Must it be said that this is Morbid-fucking-Angel here? A band who—love ’em or hate ’em—are still trailblazers. And I’m not gonna lie to you all: my knowledge of the band is spotty at best. A Beavis and Butthead appearance here and live requests there, but their back catalogue is on single-digit spins for me.

Maybe Morbid Angel knew they were taking a Risk, or perhaps a Load of Anger simply went Unspoken. But take it from a frozen water fisherman: if you’re going out on a Cold Lake, beware of thin ice. So have these death metal legends also committed The Ultimate Sin?

Pictured: nadir.

Also pictured: pike.

The laughably cheap intro “Omni Potens” translates to “all power” in Latin, but it’s also anagrammatical to “No impotens” or “made powerless”—and thus their (un?)witting journey begins. Are they actually self-aware or is their unconscious screaming? So after this dubious, lost ’90s Dimmu Borgir intro, we get our first new Morbid Angel in eight years, and “Too Extreme!” hurts for all the wrong reasons. Must I mention Dev again? We’ve seen this industrial metal thing done much better over the past couple decades, and this feels like such fucking unnecessary backpedaling—moreover, from folks who shouldn’t be venturing in that direction to begin with. But HevyDevy does not shit gold; likewise, the Vincent-Azagthoth dynamic has worked wonders in the past, but done so schismatically. Now I’m not one to practice a proverbial squeeze method on the creative juice flow—there are better ways—but something about all this hubristic bravado really gets my eyes rolling.

There’s bad songs a’plenty. Yes, “Destructos vs. the Earth” is every bit as retarded as you’ve heard, and the delayed “Attack” that’s tacked on after a few seconds of silence is silly as the initial aimless ending. And shoot, what more can you say about “Radikult”—I mean, you know about the Supreme Court case, right? Closer “Mea Culpa” sounds like a Blood Rooted remix that I somehow forgot about all those spins ago, where they also electronically alter the drums of the more-than-capable Tim Yeung. And when it’s done, it’s just…done; with no guidance, no fade-down, like they hit the damn ‘stop’ button and called it a day.


I must admit stuff like this helps a LOT.

Still there are, indeed, moments of greatness—some tunes are even good overall. You’ve likely read the helpful suggestion that a prudent EP comprised of “Existo Vulgare”, “Blades for Baal”, “Nevermore” and “Beauty Meets Beast” should have been released (sweet merciful fuck, am I ever in that crowd). But it took an acre of sack to release IDI as is, and Morbid Angel certainly nutted up. And so did Season of Mist, who probably paid the biggest advance in their 15-year history (fun, very possible fact: “Too Extreme!” is what all other labels told the group, once hearing their demands). You can only bag on the guilty parties so hard. Am I not writing this review? Has this album not been a bone of contention thus far? Will people not discuss it for years to come? Questions of “correctness” and “intent” and “artistry” abound, but the more I listen, the more I hear a band baring itself to the moment, refusing compromise, accepting pillory. I may not like it much, but my respect is true.

After all those years with Gen, maybe Evil D is into this sorta thing. Get up there, Trey!

FCC: 8, 10
Try: 3, 4, 8, 9

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

~MetalMattLongo

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