Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jungle Rot - Kill On Command

Since Jungle Rot's been signed to Victory I've been really skeptical about the future of the band. What Horrors Await was stupid fun, but Kill On Command...

Well, Kill On Command is pretty bland. In fact some of the songs almost feel like they're trying too hard to appeal to the younger "tuffguy" demographic that Victory Records prides itself in supporting. It's a damn shame since their brand of straightforward death metal seems to be lost amongst the droves of morons jerking off to the next "atmospheric" death metal release.

I'm being a little harsh here. It's not like Jungle Rot was ever the pinnacle of intelligent music to begin with. They've always been knuckle-draggingly stupid, and that was their charm. However Kill On Command features our favorite neanderthals pounding away with little of the enthusiasm which made their previous release solid fun. Tracks like "Blood Ties" are testament to that. Over the sound of the D-beats and hardcore shouts you can hear Jungle Rot's soul slowly being siphoned off to the golden cash cow. There's even a simple, forgettable breakdown in the middle of the song that reeks of that same "tuffguy" stupidity.

There's plenty of thrash influence on this album, perhaps moreso than it's predecessor. Loads of D-beat drumming and shouts fill the album, and as a whole it's a lot more mid-paced than What Horrors Await. There's a few memorable, simple chug-along grooves, notably on "Demoralized," "No Mercy (From The Merciless)," and "Push Comes To Shove," and this is where Jungle Rot shines. Similar to older death metal bands like Obituary and Bolt Thrower, this simple chugging is what makes Jungle Rot so fun. However for a band so centered around riffs and grooves, this album is sorely lacking as a whole. Some tracks like "I Predict A Riot" are utterly forgettable and even after listening to the album a few times I've yet to really recall more than a few likable riffs. The rest seems like mediocre filler. The production is great though. Very meaty and perfect for Jungle Rot's simple breed of death metal. It's just a shame the rest of the album isn't as good as the production, because Jungle Rot is a really cool, old school throwback band. I don't want to put all the blame on Victory either, because a lot of the riffs are just forgettable, and only the band could be at fault for poor songwriting. Oh well I guess.

4.5 out of 10

What Horrors Await is sooo much better in my opinion.

1. Their Finest Hour
2. Blood Ties
3. Rise Up & Revolt
4. Kill on Command
5. Demoralized
6. Push Comes to Shove
7. I Predict a Riot
8. No Mercy (from the Merciless)
9. Born of Contagion
10. Life Negated

Monday, June 20, 2011

Allegaeon - Fragments Of Form And Function

Sorry for the long lack of update, but hey I have a life too. What a hectic weekend. Two big parties and too tired to do anything more than laze around the house afterwards. On a sidenote, apparently Metal Blade released something worthwhile last year and I didn't even know about it. Remember that comment about them I made a few posts back? Yeah, scratch that.

Yup, you heard me. For the first time in years, I've found some quality releases under Metal Blade's moniker, and none of it happens to be Gothenburg tripe. 2011 has got to be Metal Blade's year because their obsession with overproduced melodic death metal is finally paying off with bands like The Absence and The Black Dahlia Murder releasing albums. However, the most notable of these recent releases is Allegaeon's debut LP Fragments Of Form And Function, a 2010 release.

Don't let the lame album cover fool you: Allegaeon's Fragments Of Form And Function is killer melodic death metal with an obvious technical twist. Their style is very comparable to Arsis' on their debut album A Celebration Of Guilt, if it was put into a blender with German technical death metallers Obscura, or Canadian techsters Beyond Creation. It's sleek, clean, and wonderfully catchy despite using odd time signatures and the occasional offbeat.

Despite the squeaky-clean production, the album still retains a pretense of extremity. On the opening track "The Cleansing"  Ezra Haynes mid-ranged rasp echoes of those aforementioned bands, and you're treated to a brief glimpse at Allegaeon's take on their style despite it being one of the worst songs on the album. "Across The Folded Line" and "The Renewal" amp up the hooks with memorable (if not cheesy) lyrics and solid melody. Although these songs are quality, they're by no means original or incredible.

However it's not until "The God Particle" that the listener is really treated to what I'm raving about. This is the first track where technicality, melody, hooks, blastbeats, and Haynes' dorky lyrics about theoretical physics come together to really immerse the listener. The trend only continues with "Biomech - Vals No. 666" and "A Cosmic Question." The second half of the album is far more memorable than the first, with "Point Of Disfigurement" being the only somewhat disappointing track, although it still delivers in the melody and hooks department.

If you want an album that'll have you singing (growling?) along and playing through melodies in your head, don't look any further than Allegaeon's debut. Sure, there's some similarities to other melodic technical death bands out there but goddamn Fragments Of Form And Function is so catchy it blows most of it's competition out of the water. Easily one of the better albums released in the last year for melodic death metal and one of the best from Metal Blade in who knows how long.

5.5 out of 10 (Re-scored)

Honestly this album loses momentum after 10+ spins. It's not worth anymore spins solely because the music is so blatant that it leaves no room for atmospheric or emotional development. A huge blunder on my part.

1. The Cleansing

2. The Renewal

3. Across the Folded Line

4. The God Particle

5. Biomech - Vals No. 666

6. From Seed to Throne

7. Atrophy of Hippocrates

8. Point of Disfigurement

9. A Cosmic Question

10. Accelerated Evolution 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nader Sadek - In The Flesh

Nader Sadek's In The Flesh is essentially what the new Morbid Angel should've sounded like, so if you think there were any cool ideas on Illud, then you might like this. I actually checked it out thanks to a few people claiming it sounded like a better version of the new Morbid Angel, and after some claimed it to be one of the best death metal albums of the year. It's composed by an Egyptian New York artist known as, you guessed it, Nader Sadek. He's not a musician, but he hired some people to make music in his artistic vision. Pretty cool I guess. So how did it turn out?

The allusions to Morbid Angel's latest album might not seem that apparent at first, but the comparison to Morbid Angel as a whole should be like getting hit in the face with a brick thrown by the Hulk. There's plenty of winding, twisting solos, dark riffs, and pounding double bass on In The Flesh - basically everything you've come to expect from Morbid Angel, performed by Nader Sadek.

The first thing that really hit me about this album besides that obvious comparison was the dry, mechanical-sounding drums and guitar tone. That sound is pervasive across all of In The Flesh and really gives the guitar and double bass that extra bite, but the cleanliness of the instruments makes the whole package feel a bit weak at parts. The drumming, despite iffy production, is fantastic for the most part. Great tom fills and crashing cymbals overlay the more groovy riffs found on In The Flesh. And the vocals are mixed far too fucking low. They're not guttural or bass-y enough to be abyssal, and instead are left somewhere in the middle between deep, and trying too hard.

Another big issue for me with this album is there's a ton of filler. You've got your worthless "atmospheric" introduction "Awakening." Then you've got "Exhaust" and "Rusted Skin" both of which are essentially ambient tracks. And to top it off, the last track "Nigredo In Necromance" is a rather plain instrumental with a solo.

I put a lot of value into albums as an artform. I like to think of an album as one complete piece of music, each track being the myriad different movements composed and arranged in an order that is both evocative and powerful to the listener. This is where In The Flesh falls flat on it's face. Although "Soulless" has a few memorable moments and a great solo, and "Of This Flesh" serves as a solid title track, the rest of the album leaves much to be desired. "Mechanic Idolatry" piqued my interest for a little, but everything else is mundane filler. If you're looking for Morbid Angel soundalikes, you're better off sticking with the obviously better bands like Mithras. It's a shame too, since those tracks that are interesting and the drumming as well are really great, but the rest fell flatter than a week old soda.

6.25 out of 10

1. Awakening

2. Petrophilia

3. Of this Flesh (Novus Deus)

4. Exhaust Capacitor

5. Soulless

6. Rusted Skin

7. Mechanic Idolatry

8. Sulffer

9. Nigredo in Necromance 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Kvlt Is Trending + Blut Aus Nord - 777 - Sect(s)

In the past few days a lot has happened. I essentially sat on my ass, played some vidya games, Skyped a few people, and realized that I am not ever going to get a job this Summer no matter how many places I applied to. A friend recently claimed he's trying to start a business, so maybe there's some hope after all. Oh and Seth Putnam died. RIP although I'll never get the appeal of half-baked "offensive for the sake of it" grind.

In lieu of and completely unrelated to all of the excitement, I decided that it's been quite a while since I got my black robe and wizard hat on. To remedy my situation I downloaded a bunch of black metal albums, and what the hell has happened to the lovably (and sometimes laughably) evil genre that I used to love?

All decked out and ready to KRIEG!!
"Cascadian" black metal and Deathspell Omega happened, that's what.

Now obviously this only applies to a small portion of black metal. Any real black metal listener knows there's hundreds of artists out there who still keep the spirit of the genre alive (dead?). However it seems that this small portion has broken through to the mainstream metal community with relative success. I mean yeah sure Dimmu Burger and trash bands like Ov Hell are winning Norwegian Grammys, but nobody takes those bands seriously in the metal community. This is a whole different deal.

"Cascadian" black metal, as it's known, is essentially black metal with shoegaze, dark ambient, neo-folk, or post-rock elements thrown in. I'm sure you can recall a few bands by name who play in this trend-setting style. Altar Of Plagues, Agalloch, newcomer Petrychor, Skagos, Wolves In The Throne Room, Lantlôs, etc. I wouldn't necessarily include bands like Alcest or Les Discrets who are both much more rock than metal, but like Porcupine Tree it seems every metal listener loves them both even if they're both piss-poor artists (I do like Alcest's debut as a shoegaze/rock album though).

I actually like a lot of this stuff although I'd never say it's as amazing as others might, but it's becoming irritating when every new black metal band I come across shares some similarities to those aforementioned bands. Some of the more "reputable" bands in this sub-subgenre are absolute garbage like Wolves In The Throne Room, but that's beside the point. I feel like the praise most of these bands get is unfounded. It's like some listeners get a pre-conceived notion of artfulness from these bands, when it's only present in superficial quantities. Maybe it's their beards, who knows?

The bearded face of kvlt to come?

The majority of these bands seem to be copying and pasting the same formula that made their peers successful, and a lot of their success seems to be limited to pockets of the internet where emo-nerds congregate to listen to the next "expressive" black metal album. I swear it's in the beards, man.

This brings me to my next point: that the amount of Deathspell Omega worshippers is off the fucking charts. I love Deathspell Omega as much as the next person, and their (at the time) unique dissonant sound is a staple of the French black metal scene. Now you've got tons of bands sounding like them, for better or worse. Soli Diaboli Gloria, Glorior Belli, Corpus Christii (the black metal one, obviously), Arkhon Infaustus, Blaze Of Perdition, Nightbringer, etc. I like Glorior Belli. Arkhon Infaustus and Annthennath are cool too, but damn the new Blaze Of Perdition is so predictable and boring. The new Axis Of Perdition (death/grind/black/noise/dark ambient) is even reminiscent of Deathspell Omega, but at least they did it right. Some would even go as far to include Blut Aus Nord, who technically started the whole thing along with Deathspell Omega, on their fantastic 2003 release The Work Which Transforms God. Recently they released 777-Sects as a direct continuation of The Work Which Transforms God and it's pretty sweet. At least a few good things came out of this trend.

And now I realize why I stayed away from black metal for so long. The genre has been heading this way for quite some time, yet it doesn't seem like the flow of "Cascadian" black metal or Deathspell Omega knockoffs is going to stop anytime soon either. Luckily there's always bands like Dødsengel who are revitalizing the Norwegian scene with some unique flavor, and there's still a bunch of original artists who are influenced by Deathspell Omega without sounding exactly like them. Not that they'd ever be able to top Fas anyway. I just felt like I had to rant about black metal due to the hypocrisy surrounding some of it's listeners who pretend they're kvlt when all they can talk about is trendy artists like Wolves In The Throne Room. Then you have Pitchfork-endorsed trendy shit like Liturgy and Krallice, but that's a rant for another day...

Here's Blut Aus Nord's 777-Sects. I might write a review on this album and The Work Which Transforms God soon.

1. Epitome I
2. Epitome II
3. Epitome III
4. Epitome IV
5. Epitome V
6. Epitome VI

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Tallest Man On Earth - Shallow Grave

This is part two of my Tallest Man On Earth coverage, where I review his debut, Shallow Grave. Doing these out of order is a stupid idea now that I look back on it, but whatever.

The Tallest Man On Earth, also known as Kristian Matsson, is a talented Swedish solo musician playing American folk music. Shallow Grave is his interpretation of what Bob Dylan would sound like in the 21st-century and in my opinion easily surpasses the majority of Dylan's work. As I mentioned before, Matsson is a solo artist, in that his music is literally just his larynx and an acoustic guitar. Perfect folk recipe right there.

A lot of the songs on Shallow Grave have a very mellow feel to them. There are times where Matsson plays very lightly (and even uses ghost notes) like on the title track. "Where Do My Blue Birds Fly" is the epitome of that mellow sound, with an extremely soulful harmony. The chord progressions on the album are well-crafted and some of the more original in folk music today. The way "Honey Won't You Let Me In" ends on the dominant is great. Sorry for theory nerding-out here, but well-written music is better than all the mechanical sweep-picking and arpeggios in the world.

"The Gardener" is perhaps my favorite song on the album along with "Where Do My Blue Birds Fly." A very upbeat, happy sounding track to offset the mellowed-out track that comes before it, "The Gardener" is Matsson at his catchiest and most accessible. The mixing on the song is great and strikes a fine balance between his vocals and the guitar. In fact the mixing on the entire album is perfect for this kind of music, and really lends itself to his voice well. Some of the twangier songs get more on my nerve, like "Pistol Dreams" and the opener "I Won't Be Found" is honestly one of the weaker tracks on the album, but all in all Shallow Grave is the superior release by The Tallest Man On Earth.

8.75 out of 10

1. I Won't Be Found
2. Pistol Dreams"
3. Honey Won't You Let Me In
4. Shallow Grave
5. Where Do My Bluebird Fly
6. The Gardener
7. The Blizzard's Never Seen the Desert Sands
8. The Sparrow and the Medicine
9. Into the Stream
10. This Wind

The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt

Whilst I listen to Gigan's incredible new album, Quasi-Hallucinogenic Sonic Landscapes, which I picked up at the store yesterday, I'm going to cover another artist I've been listening to a lot of recently in a double post review-session extravaganza. It's kinda like the Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza, except about a thousand times better and it won't sound like shit.

The Wild Hunt, like the fantastic Shallow Grave before it, is a true folk album. You've got a man and his acoustic guitar, and that's about it. From what I've gathered, both albums were recorded with bare bones single-microphone setups which gives the recordings a raw, almost DIY feel. I can't really imagine the cash Kristian Matsson paid to acquire a nine-foot mic stand.

Bad jokes aside, the music he's created with such a small setup is impressive. You've got your underlying chord progressions, your melody, and a distinct rhythmic strumming or guitar body pounding from Matsson. Basically everything anyone should expect from a modern Bob Dylan. "The Wild Hunt" is a great opener with a catchy, memorable refrain. "You're Going Back" has a perfect, traveling feeling like driving along an open road in the middle of nowhere, or riding in the cabin car of a luxury liner through a scenic mountain pass. "King Of Spain" has a similar sound but Kristian's galloping plucks make it feel like you're riding a horse rather than in a car or a train. The whole album, much like Shallow Grave, is very picturesque if you couldn't grasp that by now. Each song conjures images of real-life events and scenery.

Like with most normal chord progressions in music, he utilizes the subdominant (IV) and dominant (V) chords right before he ends most of his progressions, often meandering between the two. The music has a very aged sound, like it's perhaps decades older than the "2010" stamped on the album would initially lead you to believe. However, much like Bob Dylan, despite great songwriting, Kristian's vocals are honestly annoying at times due to the raw mixing. This wasn't a problem on Shallow Grave, and although he's improved his range somewhat, sometimes his voice has a grating twang to it. It's most apparent on "Thousand Ways" and on the piano ballad "Kids On The Run." Despite all the metal I listen to, I still believe vocals can make or break an album, and I have significant trouble listening to those two songs all the way through. Luckily the album is mostly devoid of this issue although it pops up a little in a few other tracks. It would've probably been a bit better if the mixing was more balanced, but all in all a solid folk release by a fantastic songwriter.

7.5 out of 10

1. The Wild Hunt
2. Burden of Tomorrow
3. Troubles Will Be Gone
4. You're Going Back
5. The Drying of the Lawns
6. King of Spain
7. Love Is All
8. Thousand Ways
9. A Lion's Heart
10. Kids on the Run
11. Like the Wheel (Bonus Track)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Severed Savior - Servile Insurrection

Here's another repost. I'm going crazy today. Three updates in ONE day? That's like a world record!

I'm a technical death metal fiend. I eat this shit up, whether it's from debut artists or from established masters of the subgenre. Severed Savior, just like every other band from California, is so ridiculously predictable by this point that it's going to be tough to even write about their most recent album without retracing what I said in other reviews.

Suffocation used to be the staple for brutal/technical death metal, and it's pretty easy to see their influence throughout Severed Savior's discography. However if you've listened to Severed Savior's aptly-titled Brutality Is The Law, which I quite enjoyed, then you might be disappointed with what you hear on Servile Insurrection. Sweep-picking, brutal riffs, Suffocation-esque vocals, plenty of neocIassical solos, some dissonance, and a few random jazz sections, what's not to like? It's missing some of that essential brutality. This seems to be the trend in most technical death and especially with Californian technical death metal.

That's not to say Servile Insurrection is lacking any quality brutal moments. The intro track "Question" and "Inverted And Inserted" really bring the brutality. There's also an interesting transition about halfway through the album where the listener is treated to a 57 second instrumental track followed by a 50 second acoustic track. It's a welcome break from the fierceness of the previous tracks and sets the mood for the latter half of Servile Insurrection. "Acts Of Sedition" is Severed Savior at their fastest and "Spoils Of War" is Severed Savior at their catchiest. These last few tracks are memorable despite the album having that feel of "been there done that."

I should be giving this a more careful listen, but after quite a few spins I just don't hear what separates Severed Savior from the rest of the Californian tech death scene. Perhaps it's their brutality on the previous release, or perhaps it's the overbearing influence of their music on other artists, but whatever makes Severed Savior special sure as hell didn't make Servile Insurrection stand out in the slightest.

7.25 out of 10


1. Question

2. Inverted and Inserted

3. Rewards of Cruelty

4. Fuck the Humans

5. Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

6. Intervallo Del Tradimento

7. Acts of Sedition

8. Fecalphiliac

9. Spoils of War

10. Deadspeak

11. Servile Insurrection

The Scale

Here's the scale I use in my review scoring system for those wondering what those numbers at the bottom of each review mean (in 0.25s):

9.5-9.75 is undeniably a great work of art.
9.0-9.25 is an instant classic.
8.0-8.75 is exceptional and will be in rotation often.
7.0-7.75 is a solid album overall with some minor glaring flaws.
6.0-6.75 is barely above average, but has some interesting traits that make it listenable.
5.0-5.75 is banal, mediocre, average, whatever.
4.0-4.75 is devoid of creativity. Bad.
3.0-3.75 is pretty much terrible.
2.0-2.75 is actually painful to listen to.
1.0-1.75 is atrocious and barely qualifies as noise let alone music.
0.1-0.75 is disgusting, literally offensive to the listener.
0 has to be a joke, no really.

Vengeful - The Omnipresent Curse

Ironically, with new albums leaking and releasing daily by titans like Origin, Revolting, Blood Freak, Septic Flesh, and even Bon Iver, I'm currently enthralled with an album released back in 2009. Looking back on it, 2009 was probably the best year for music of the '00 decade. Anyway in mid-April I saw Sepultura, Belphegor, Neuraxis, Keep Of Kalessin, and a bunch of other bands. The show was pretty sweet. Neuraxis was a stunning display of technicality, Belphegor was awesome, Sepultura was filled with energy, and Keep Of Kalessin was, well, awful (as expected). Sepultura got the crowd moving so much that even the old-tyme moshers in their mid-forties were getting riled up. The concert is beside the point. I walked away with an album from the merch booth that is slowly becoming one of my favorite death metal albums of the last few years:

Vengeful's The Omnipresent Curse

Apparently the immensely talented bassist from Neuraxis was in the band at one point or another which is why it was at the merch booth. I had downloaded the album before (like with everything I happen to find of remote musical interest on the internet) but had only given it very seldom listens, which is a regret now that I've realized it's greatness. Anyway this album is a solid slab of dark, sinister death metal that'll leave you feeling uneasy at your core.

This album is surprisingly tough to write about. I usually tend to find albums that resonate with me well to be tougher to write about due to the feel and sights I associate with the music. That can lead to some awfully vague descriptions of the music when I start throwing other sensory experiences I associate with the album into the review. So, if I begin talking about weird shit like daemonic portals opening up and swallowing my soul, you know what I'm getting at.

Vengeful's debut, Karma, was a pretty decent release that held a lot of promise for the French-Canadian metallers. In the two years that followed the release of Karma, Vengeful underwent several lineup changes with members from big names in Canadian (tech) metal, such as Neuraxis, Atheretic, and Negativa. They also developed their semi-standard sound in numerous ways to create an ominous, distorted whirlwind of sonic hatred. The Omnipresent Curse was the result of that development, and from the moment "Forsaken" hammers through your skull, it's easy to tell that this album is dark in an Immolation-esque sense. In fact a lot of the songs almost feel like they could've been produced by late '90s-early '00s Immolation. The drumming has a very pounding nature reminiscent of Alex Hernandez's work on Close To A World Below. Etienne Gallo's somewhat free-form tom and cymbal use (ala Ulcerate) on this release is phenomenal and adds a lot to the music, especially on "Anguish" and the 21-minute closing track "Transcending."

LeBlanc's is no slouch on the guitar either. Opener "Forsaken" culminates in a memorable riff littered with harmonics and a brutal low-end. Olivier Pinard's bass talent also stands out as an extremely low, dry roar in the very mid-ranged mix. "Detention" is one of The Omnipresent Curse's highlights. An underlying chug and several dissonant chords later and you're gliding along into the mouth of a colossal black monstrosity as it consumes reality. There's a lot of dissonance scattered throughout Vengeful's sophomore effort, but I've always been particularly fond of songwriters who use the tensions and accidentals to their advantage, especially when it's in a non-traditional sense. "Transcending" is an interesting track in that it's 21-minutes long and manages to still be interesting and cohesive. Few death metal bands can pull that off properly, but leave it to the French-Canadians (known for being awesome; see: Gorguts, Quo Vadis, etc.) to pull it off.

However I wouldn't go as far to say that this is a wholly original work. The overwhelming similarities to early Immolation are there directly in the music. In fact I can't shake the damn image of mid-era Immolation playing these exact riffs and songs. Perhaps not with the acoustics on "Lapsus," but I can hear it in the jazz-influenced drumming, the guitarwork, and the overall feel of the album. Is that a bad thing? Let me ask you this: do you like Immolation? If the answer is yes (which it fucking should be) then you will like The Omnipresent Curse without a doubt. The whole package reeks of dissonant chaotic evil, and what's not to love about that even if it sounds like a solid imitation of one of the greatest death metal bands ever? Vengeful is proof that original work is not a necessity for greatness, but a bit more originality never hurt anyone.

9.25 out of 10

For some reason this album kicks major ass in 5.1. The use of each channel is perfect. Also a third album is being produced now by the band. I'm most certainly excited!


1. Forsaken

2. Beholder

3. Anguish

4. Detention

5. Lapsus

6. Nightmare

7. Sanctioned

8. Transcending

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Morbid Angel Tries Something New...

...And it fucking sucks.

Read some quotes on the new album by famous death metal musicians:

"No other band in the entire Extreme Metal genre but Morbid Angel would have ever dared to make 'Illud Divinum Insanus'. There are going to be quite a few unimaginative underground purists who think they know better what kind of album Morbid Angel should or should not be putting out, but with 'Illud Divinum Insanus' Trey and David prove that they answer to no one but themselves. It is an incredibly well written, performed, recorded and produced record." - Karl Sanders, NILE

"One of the best death metal releases since their last album with Vincent. I'm not too much into the techno bits but I am a dude who will appreciate and respect bands doing new things, progressing... So it's all good. Vincent's vocals of course are still as good as they come. And the riffs are definitely there, Trey always delivers. New drummer is killer too!" - Mikael Akerfeldt, OPETH

"Morbid Angel still prove they can continue their legacy and deliver their madness with a skill so elite. The metal scene has no choice but to give back the crown to the undisputable kings of death metal! MORBID! MORBID! MORBID!" - Anders 'Blakkheim' Nyström, KATATONIA

Well, those glowing comments might actually mean something if they were from bands who released a good album sometime in the last half-decade. Illud Divinum Insanus leaked a week or so ago and it is pretty much shit. How is it even possible for Morbid Angel, the most consistent and creative death metal band of the progenitors (and easily my favorite), to create something so bad? Bare with me while I try to explain the laziness apparent on Morbid Angel's latest.

Frankly, Illud Divinum Insanus is not a death metal album. From the opener "Too Extreme!" it's pretty apparent that Morbid Angel wanted to experiment with some industrial or electronic elements. That's cool and totally possible to work into a death metal context (see: The Berzerker or The Amenta on Occasus). Instead it's a poorly done Rammstein-soundalike that manages to be less catchy. Trey Azagthoth's normally virtuosic guitarwork is limited to a few power chords while the pounding "unce" of the industrial undertones gives the listener a headache. Coming from someone who normally likes industrial electro, that's saying something.

The tracks progress in a similar fashion, each one reduced to a groove with a few melodic lines and patterns produced over the top of a steady drum beat or industrial beat. "I Am Morbid" is one of the most insipid tracks I've ever heard by a death metal band. It begins with a sample of a crowd chanting "MORBID!" and then after Trey plays a few simple licks, it degenerates into a Pantera-like groove that makes Phil Anselmo and Dimebag look like musical geniuses. There's even an obviously placed hook right after. Granted, David Vincent is older now, but his vocals are utter garbage on this album. Perhaps I hold Morbid Angel  to a higher standard than some other death metal bands, but goddamn there is no excuse for how poorly he belts out "MORBID."

"Destructos Vs. The Earth / Attack" is literally Morbid Angel's attempt at an industrial dance anthem. Vincent once again displays how poorly his voice has aged with his chanting and clean vocals, and much to my disappointment the 7-minute track doesn't exactly improve from the first minute. Then there's fucking Radikult. Jesus christ I don't know what Morbid Angel was thinking, but that song is absolute shit. Stupid brainless chugging riffs, poorly placed palm mutes, and bland drumwork make the (also 7-minute) track seem like a huge, blundering waste of space on the album. Oddly enough "Radikult" has the best solo on the entire album, but even then it's more a showcase of studio effects rather than Trey's guitarwork.

Old Morbid Angel rises to the surface for several seconds on a few tracks like "Blades For Baal," "Nevermore," (released as a single) and "Beauty Meets Beast," but the hallmarks of their success are all but nonexistent on Illud Divinum Insanus. Even those few death metal tracks are seemingly uninspired. It's pretty damn disappointing since it has been an eternity since their last album. Eight years and you produce this piece of shit? What the fuck Morbid Angel.

3.25 out of 10

And I completely understand that doing something different often polarizes fans, but the industrial and electronic elements present on this album really could've been done better. I feel like people will still praise it for what it stands for (a big "fuck you we do what we want" sort of thing), but the music itself is at best a pathetic shadow of former Morbid Angel.

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

The leak was taken down, sorry guys! Well not really. I just saved you from listening to this garbage.