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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.