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Eight years. Eight long, hard, dark, and disturbing years. That's how long it's taken these guys, one of the very few still-relevant death metal bands out there, to unearth new material from whatever underworld piques their inspiration. Now granted, a few of those years found this reviewer knee-deep in other musical ventures, but Morbid Angel have always been a group I've had my eye on no matter the weather, and being able to partake in a spoonful of what will be album number I was something I just couldn't pass up on.
And I got two tracks; one necessary, one not so much.
I'll start with the good...this here "Nevermore" song, played ad nauseum live since its inception, is the necessary end, as this will clearly be the musical focus the new album will more than likely envelope. And while there isn't a lot of compositional maturity heard here, it's nevertheless a nice little number that hearkens the listener back to the ugliness of 2003's "Heretic" if it had decent, clean production. Speaking of which, said production is something I was first to notice before the music; for the first time in pretty much their entire existence, Morbid Angel are able to get themselves a -GOOD PRODUCTION APPROACH!- that doesn't render the guitars overtly-blurred, the bass non-existence, and the vocals audibly digestible; however, for as concise as those wicked growls are, it's clear that Davey-boy's throat isn't what it used to be, and those demonic bellows when the sick were blessed seem rather hollowed out. Musically the band is as tight as ever, blazing through brutal guitar riffs, bizarro melodies, schizophrenic leads/solos, and bombastic drumwork like no other. And even the skin bashing of Mr. Yeung is as top notch as one would hope for; yes, he's not Sandoval, but what he does is still very acceptable given the band and musical direction.
On the other side, however, is the more deplorable likes of Combichrist's remix of "Destructos vs. the Earth". Apparently Combichrist are the new black in the world of Euro-industrial, but their coolness factor is lost on me. I'm never a fan of unneeded techno remixes, and this is a pretty good example as to why. The original song better be a damn fine tune given to make up for the computerized version's lack of ingenuity and ability to maintain my attention. The dance-floor percussive grooves, the synthesized tandems, and the rendering of realistic instruments and vocal parts into series of binary code versus notes and chord arrangements leave a bitter taste in my mouth on par with downing a bottle of castor oil without a chaser. Required listening only for those whose musical predilections also include Manson-like banality.
In the end, "Nevermore" leaves me still interested to know how "Illud..." is set to be when it FINALLY comes out, while "Destructos..." bugged me. A lot. And while hintings of a techno-borne backbone are still prevalent, I doubt (or at least sincerely hope) the Combichristers stay where they are and leave death metal to the masters.
Well it has been eight years since the last Morbid Angel record, 2003's "Heretic", and a surprising sixteen since David Vincent last appeared with the band. In a way the band's upcoming record, "Illud Divinum Insanus" has been a long time coming, especially for fans of the Morbid.
"Nevermore" is really a good choice for a single, not to say it's a perfect song. Despite some of its flaws, though minor, I can see why this is an optimal track for a single. It's catchy, if you can call it that, and displays all the trademark Morbid Angel traits; guitar virtuosity from Trey and the welcome return of David's vocals. He tries some new techniques here too with a choral- sounding voice midway through the song.
Ok, so "Nevermore" is not perfect, and if you're not a fan of Morbid Angel or a newcomer to them, it is not the most opportune place to start. But this song has the rare gift of growing on you. At first I thought "yeah it's ok" but after a while I grew to enjoy it more. I'm glad the band have not messed with the formula that makes them Morbid Angel, and they keep it fresh with each new album by adding new elements whether it be in the instruments or the vocals.
Some Morbid Angel fans are not really fond of the Steve Tucker era (1998-2003), but I like both the Vincent and Tucker eras of Morbid Angel, each for their own merits. You can't discredit the Vincent era. I mean "Altars of Madness" is an absolute seminal classic of death metal, but "Gateways To Annihilation" is also a damn good record. So I admit it is great to see Dave back doing what he should be, but we still shouldn't brush the Tucker era aside.
All in all, "Nevermore" is a good choice for a single and from what I've heard of it and another new track, "Omni Potens", the band's new record should prove to be a good, solid release for 2011 and affirm that the band are far from done.
- Great Morbid Angel trademarks
- Good to David back
- Grows on you
- Takes awhile to get used to
Morbid Angel's newest material is for all intensive purposes a more focused extension of what we heard on "Heretic" back in 2003. "Heretic" itself was a less muddy, less focused release which bent upon it's predecessor "Gateways to Annihilation." While "Heretic" lacked direction, and felt more like a production demo than a themed full-length it was still a listenable affair. Things are not looking so good with this preview of the forthcoming "Illud Divinum Insanus" album as the new track featured here is unspeakably bland and short-sighted.
"Nevermore" isn't a terrible song, borrowing variations of guitar riffs Trey has been playing for the last 13 years or so. Trey's presence is not only forgettable, but his solo is mixed at about sleep-fart level and makes no attempt to punctuate itself within the song. I don't know if it was Dave Vincent's idea to have the choral vocals tossed in but it was a mistake. His presence is unexceptional and is only necessary to attract old fans. While professional and well mixed, the tone of this song is almost tongue-in-cheek and irritatingly so. I don't expect drummer Tim Yeung or "whats-his-name" from Zyklon to stand out, and they don't. Sandoval's input is sorely missed.
"Destructo vs The Earth" is a terrible song. Dated EBM-sounding Combichrist nonsense that harkens back to 90's Front Line Assembly. I have nothing against this type of electronic music but it belongs on one of Vincent's Genitorturers albums as a throwaway remix, it really has nothing to do with The Ancient Ones.
Morbid Angel has lost me with this one. I'd stuck with the band since seeing them live in 1995 and enjoyed everything (even "Heretic") they'd put out. But after eight years I am disappointed and bored by how bland of an effort this is. There are better, more interesting things happening in death metal in 2011. Even if "Illud..." ends up being a great album, it will have this turdball to soil it around the halfway mark. No thanks.
Well, this probably isn't an entirely accurate representation of what is going to be on Illud Divinum Insanus, but what we have is one classic Morbid Angel track and a techno remix. I'm very satisfied!
"Nevermore" is pure classic Morbid Angel. The main riff has a choppy, Heretic feel to it, and I mean that in the best possible sense. The pre-chorus is angry, Possessed/Slayer sounding, and then the chorus comes in with a rather catchy vocal hook. And that really reminds me of what I missed about Vincent's work with the band: his vocal patterns. He even throws in some quasi Peter Steele choral vocals, which gives a nice twist to the music. The break down is nice, and so is the solo...nothing super spectacular, but solid.
Musically, nothing is flawed. Vincent sounds pretty much exactly the same as he did on Domination and the live album, Entangled In Chaos. Perhaps a little bit more caustic. But still powerful. In fact, I'd say that he sounds better than he did on Domination. Trey is Trey...if you liked him before, you'll dig him here. Tim Yeung fills Pete's place quite well, although his drumming feels slightly different.
Classic Morbid Angel. Nothing less, nothing more. Personally I love Morbid Angel, and they sound much more inspired than they have on the previous two albums. It doesn't eclipse Formulas and what came before, but it's solid.
If I've got one gripe, that would be the production. Erik Rutan's squeaky clean production robs the drums of their nastiness. Covenant had an awesome drum sound. They should have aimed for that! But still, this is way better than the low-fi stuff that graced Heretic.
Now, the remix. It's done by Combichrist. If you don't like electronic, evil techno stuff, then you will hate this. If this appeared as the actual song on the album, I probably wouldn't like it, but as it is, I find it highly enjoyable. The sci-fi lyrics and robot vocals go perfectly with the whacked out keyboards and sound effects.
Well, I'm pleased. I'm happy to have my favourite band back, producing inspired music. I'm confident that the new album will rule, even if it does have new elements on it. At least with songs like "Nevermore," Morbid Angel is still keeping a strong link to their death metal past.