The sound of a band crashing spectacularly

It’s quite possible that Illud Divinum Insanus is one of the most anticipated death metal releases for some time, next to the new Decapitated set. And it’s equally likely that it will also rank as one of the most disappointing albums in the annals of metal.

Indeed, it’s already begun. It isn’t even out yet and there is already at least one Facebook group mourning the passing of Morbid Angel. For many people, this is the band that not only perfected death metal, but defines it. Yet in less than an hour, Trey Azagthoth and David Vincent have taken that legacy and tossed it away like the photo of an ex-girlfriend smeared with shit.

Terrible Latin aside, Illud begins ominously enough, with the portentous, Mussorgsky-like “Omni Potens” full of drum fills, dark-sounding strings and chanting. But after such an epic build up, the whole thing falls immediately flat with six and a half minutes of totally misguided, half-arsed industrialised bullshit like a bad Front Line Assembly cover band fucking the Genitorturers and coming up with Marilyn Manson, but worse. Like the time Dave Rotten decided that the world really needed a remixed Avulsed album, “Too Extreme!” fails on every level, including the title, which is more like something Devin Townsend would call a song.

And there’s worse to come. “Radikult” is just terrible urban hip-hop that Trey probably found on the backseat of a cab after Rob Zombie had deliberately left it there. But even that pales in awfulness compared to “Destructos Vs. the Earth/Attack”, something else you’d expect more from Townsend, but only if he woke up one day without any talent. It’s too stupid even for him. And lame. Really, really lame.

The thing is that there are Morbid Angel tracks here. Both “Nevermore” and “Beauty Meets Beast”, stupid title aside, are as ferocious and filled with those typical Azagthoth slab-riffs as anything they’ve done in the past, and “Blades of Baal” has a killer breakdown groove. The real shame is that the first-mentioned pair of songs come in way too late, at eight and nine respectively, to be any real saving grace. Most of the band’s fans will probably have thrown it across the room in disgust by then, and the rest will still be picking themselves up off the floor from the fits of laughter induced by the idiotic “Destructos” and its ridiculous “Marching! We are marching! Destructos are marching on Man!” refrain like something out of an Ed Wood film written by a nine year old. Even the songs that aren’t poor attempts at cross-genre pollution are not very good: “I am Morbid” and “10 More Dead” wouldn’t have even been good enough to be on Heretic. And saddest of all, David Vincent’s voice has gone from sounding like a haunted tomb opening to the generic, unscary growl of the denizens he once inspired.

Some are already calling this the St. Anger of death metal, but that’s not accurate. St. Anger was the sound of a band trying to hold something together as their world went to pieces. Illud Divinum Insanus is that of a band crashing spectacularly and not even realising, and unlike Metallica, Morbid Angel don’t even have the rigours of immense fame to blame. Metallica spent three albums and more than a decade on devolving their sound; Morbid Angel has done it in one stroke, for no apparent reason.

Morbid Angel really only has one option now. They need to call the next album  Just Kidding and come out with the most evil-sounding record of all time. But they won’t, because it sounds like they just don’t care.

1. Omni Poten
2. Too Extreme!
3. Existo Vulgoré
4. Blades for Baal
5. I Am Morbid
6. 10 More Dead
7. Destructos Vs. Earth/Attack
8. Nevermore
9. Beauty Meets Beast
10. Radikult
11. Profundis – Mea Culpa