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Death Metal meets Industrial and Dark Wave sounds - 80%

kluseba, August 1st, 2011

Honestly said, I don't care very much about death metal. Of course, I have heard stuff from Morbid Angel before and liked it a little bit from a subjective and even more objective point of view but I don’t consider myself as a fan of the genre and won’t judge those albums. But the main reason to check this release out was the high amount of controversial and mostly negative comments not only on this site but also in professional magazines and on different music portals. I'm usually open-minded towards experimental music and thought that I might review this record with a more objective point of view. I'm not a disappointed fan and can face this record from a neutral point of view which may be a different approach compared to most of the reviews written on here. At the same time, I was hoping to expect something innovating and great. The album doesn’t feel that innovating to me but I indeed enjoyed listening to it.

After a first try I immediately understood why this album got so many negative reviews. The record doesn't sound much like death metal and is quite experimental. I would say that the death metal influences on this record are as elevated as the industrial metal influences and even the dark wave and gothic influences. This album would probably get better reviews in the gothic sector and might please to fans of Laibach, Das Ich and Combichrist but also to fans of Ministry, Rob Zombie and Rammstein. That's not exactly what one would expect from a death metal legend that has taken eight years to release a new album. I mean, there are still some rather traditional straight forward death metal tracks on the record that should please to some fans like Existo Vulgoré, Blades for Baal or Nevermore. But all other songs have at least minor industrial or dark wave influences in their sound and those three songs are sort of a break to breathe again and digest this very direct and provoking record. The album has a lack of thrash riffs or crunchy guitar solos that many fans expected. The record focuses much more on team work with a common style than on solo passages, talent show hysteria or impressive technical skills and impressions. The band wanted to create something different and try out something new and they were quite consequent and took no prisoners. Maybe the record should get some more promotion in the gothic than in the metal sector and could reach out for a new and different fan base.

Most of the songs, especially the longer ones, focus on a different approach than the death metal roots. After a kind of weak and artificially flavoured introduction called "Omni Potens" that fits to the underground style of the whole record including a badly translated Latin album title that a black metal band could not have chosen in a better manner, the band decides to open with their weirdest and most unusual track which is "Too extreme!". This song has a lot of keyboard samples, drum computer patterns, dark wave lyrics, danceable beats and weird breaks. I think that the goal of the band was to shock their fans and get a reaction. Far over twenty reviews only two months after the release prove that they succeeded. The closing "Radicult" and "Profundis - Mea Culpa" close the circle and deliver danceable dark beats, superficial but catchy lyrics and a song structure that reminds indeed of Marilyn Manson as many people said. The band put their most extreme examples at the beginning and the end of the record but some songs of that fusion the styles of death metal, industrial music and dark wave can also be found in the middle of the record. "I am Morbid" opens with live sound samples and has some groove metal or new metal approaches. It's the intentional band hymn on the record and it works well for me but probably not for most of the fans. "Destructos vs. the Earth / Attack" sounds like a track coming from an industrial gothic band like Megaherz or Eisbrecher and sounds rather German than American. The song is heavily influenced by the "Neue Deutsche Härte" and even a little bit by the "Neue Deutsche Todeskunst" genres.

I'm quite sure that the band calculated the fact that the experimental tracks of this album would not please to most of their fans. Even for open minded metal maniacs, it's difficult to accept the high degree of courageous experiments on this record after a break of eight years in between the last record and this one. On the other hand, I think that Morbid Angel have already proven in the past that they are one of the most talented and well known death metal bands in the world and don't need to show this again, close their minds and repeat the same patterns over years. They have been there and it was time for them to move on. They always had a slightly experimental touch in some interludes or experimental songs in the past but this time they really focussed on them and I think from an objective and subjective point of view that it's great that the band wants to move on and be creative. That’s why bands like Amorphis, Moonspell, Therion, The Old Dead Tree or Orphaned Land are amongst my favourite bands of all times that all come from the extreme metal scene. I think there is a high amount of talent and quality in this scene but many young bands waste it and play ordinary death metal to get a record deal, make some money and move on afterwards. I don’t want to bash the death metal genre but it’s something I have observed over the years that many bands excelled in their experimental new directions rather than in their first albums even if some fans would argument it the other way around. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some great bands out there that play only death metal music in their whole career but they are less intriguing for me. Now, Morbid Angel is about to join those bands and I will surely watch out for their upcoming new and also their older stuff right now. Personally, I have grown up with a lot of gothic music in my family and even though I prefer metal music, I don't feel alien to the modern approaches and experiments of "Morbid Angel". I have witnessed myself to dance and bang along to "Radikult", to find "I am Morbid" quite energizing and to feel intrigued about the weird "Too extreme!". The band really hit a nostalgic nerve in me with those tracks and they surprised me in a positive way where many people reacted in a negative manner which I completely understand.

In the end, I like this unusual, courageous and experimental album from an objective and subjective point of view. It was the right choice for me to check this contested album out and I have listened to it several times in the last few weeks and it happens to grow more and more on me. When I take a look at all those heavy reactions, I have probably the same little smile on my face as David Vincent and the other band members of the death metal legends that reaches out for a new creative direction. The new decade seems to be a very innovating transitional one for many extreme metal bands such as In Flames, Dimmu Borgir or now Morbid Angel. The metal world moves on and doesn't get stuck in the past and only hails the glorious eighties or early nineties like many bands did in the last decade. Remember that many courageous records often need time to be understood and accepted as even records like Iron Maiden's "Somewhere in time" or Metallica's "...and justice for all" were heavily criticized by the so called fans when they were initially released and are seen and accepted as masterpieces nowadays. I'm not sure if this will one day happen to "Illud divinum insane" by Morbid Angel but it wouldn't certainly be the worst choice. Personally, I already like the experimental side and only rate this album down because of some weak sound samples, a little bit too many direct inspirations from other bands and a couple of unnecessary traditional death metal tracks for the whining fans that I don't need at all. The rest is a really good discovery and a truly great gem for me even if my review or opinion might get bashed as much as the album itself. And now I'm going to convince my gothic friends to try out "Radicult" with me...