Latest release: Kingdoms Disdained (Silver Lining)Website: www.morbidangel.com
For their first album in six years, death metal pioneers Morbid Angel have been reunited with bassist/vocalist Steve Tucker and found a new and appreciative home at Silver Lining Music, sharing a stable with other legends like Saxon, Girlschool and Annihilator. A mere two months after its initial release, Kingdoms Disdained has just been issued in a special box set featuring six vinyls, additional artwork and the special seven-track all instrumental EP Complete Acid Terror. Loud got Tucker on the phone to discuss this spectacular package and his return to Morbid Angel overall.
The special edition of the new album seems like something that’s normally reserved for an anniversary package, but Kingdoms has only been out a few months. What was the thinking behind doing this so soon after the release?
Honestly this was something that the record label suggested. They had this idea about what they wanted, a box set. When I first heard about it I had no idea what they were talking about. The label’s been great. Everything they’ve promised from this album – the digipak, box set – everything’s been of the highest quality. I trusted them to do an amazing job and I think they’ve achieved that. When I opened it up I was blown away. I was like, “Holy shit! I didn’t expect anything like this!” The book that’s inside that holds the vinyls is as quality as any book you’re ever going to see in your life. It’s not going to fall apart easily. It’s meant to be handled. It’s meant to be looked at. All of the extra artwork is amazing. Even the concept – one song on each side of the vinyl. It allows each song to have the most space and the most quality sound sonically. It’s spectacular. I’m blown away by it.
Some fans have really been looking forward to this album for a long time so this makes it even more special now.
Morbid Angel’s never been a band that puts out albums quickly. There seems to be a lot of excitement around it and seriously with everyone involved in the yardwork for the album, everyone involved from the label and artistically, I think that inspired us do more than usual because I think everyone was so blown away by the concept of how it looked. The way the artist went about making the artwork for the cover, he made models and so when we wanted to make all these extra 3D images and things like that, we were able to do it because he had all these different angled photographs… we never even realised at first. I would say one thing inspired the other thing and made the ideas happen.
Talk us through how you came to be involved with Morbid Angel once again.
Trey and I have been friends since always. When I stepped away there wasn’t any hate between us or anything like that. Trey and I appreciated what we had done together. Trey has, many, many times, patted me on the back for the music we have created together. It was something he enjoyed and it was something I enjoyed and so when he asked me if I wanted to do it again, I thought about it, but man it didn’t take me long to think about. I always enjoyed making music with Trey and to be honest with you, for me it was a no-brainer.
On a personal level, your performance both vocally and on bass was a real highlight of Kingdoms.
For that I really have to pat Erik Rutan on the back, because to be able to be in the studio with one of my best friends and I trust 100% – we spent extra time on my bass because he cared. He wanted my bass to sound fucking awesome. He wanted my vocal parts to be… well, he would tell me, “Hey man, that wasn’t very good, you need to do that again”. We’re friends, so there’s no hard feelings. It was just open, honest and very productive. So working with Erik, the bass sounds better than it probably would have. I love the bass tone. The vocals I think sound pretty vile.
How was the songwriting split?
Trey wrote most of the music. Trey wrote, I think, eight or seven songs and myself and Scotty (Fuller) wrote a couple of songs together. I think I wrote three songs for the album. Most of it was Trey, over the period of a year and a half. The songs that i contributed were things that we wrote together. I had never worked with the drummer before, so I was getting to know the drummer while learning new songs, and we still wanted to write a couple of new songs so I wrote a couple in the room with the drummer and they’re some of the faster songs on the album. I just feel that room vibe, when you’re jamming with somebody, is just so intense and we ended up writing some faster tunes.
Now you’ve had a chance to look back at it, is there some tracks that really stand out for you and represent the album really well?
Personally I think that if you listen to any of the first five or six tracks on the album and they all represent the album fantastically well. Matter of fact I think that all do. I don’t think there’s one where I can say, That song doesn’t represent the album well. I think you can pull any track up and it gives a good definition of what the album’s like. There’s a lot of variety – vibe variety, speed variety, a lot of different tempos and feels. I think they all represent each other really well. Now that I’ve had a chance to look at it, the one thing that really shocks me is how everything gels together so well. The flow of the album is great. I think every track is pretty badass in its own right.
Can you elaborate on the artwork?
The artwork was done by a guy called Ken Coleman out of Ireland. I’ve been following the guy for probably about six or seven years now. What originally got me following the guy, and I think he’s actually the brother-in-law of one of my very good friends, which is how I found out about him, but what turned me on to him is that he has this way of combining natural elements and turning into something that is part mechanical, part organic or something. Something bio-mechanical. He develops his own worlds, and I think that’s totally what he did for the Kingdoms Disdained artwork. He illustrated a world that is kind of what we’re talking about. A sort of counter world where all the gods are rising up from the earth and part of the earth cleansing itself. Which is the topic of the album, and I think he truly brought that together. I think it’s stunning and it blew my mind! We’ve done a few special editions and a lot of tour designs for this album and every single thing we’ve put this artwork on just blows my mind.
This is your fourth album with Morbid Angel now. How do you think it compares with the other records you’ve made with them?
That’s one of those things where you have to wait and see how it matures. I think it’s a very potent album. I think that it’s a very timely album. I think a lot of things fell into place to make this album very timely. I think that when I look back at it, I’ll think this album was a great success, in my opinion. There’s a lot of things that happened around this album that I never got to experience in my career before. In the past we were with Earache Records and that could be a very frustrating thing. So not having that involved and actually having people that care on your team, it’s a whole different experience. It was nothing but a whole lot of people allowing us to do what we do. Everyone trusting us 100% to do what we do. We were all very happy with what we came out of there with.