Sunday, June 05, 2011

MORBID ANGEL: Illud Divinum Insanus - "This is Your One Warning"

Question: Just wondering what you think of Morbid's new cd.. I think they've lost their minds! So much potential for greatness... ::::facepalm:::
from: Rob Alaniz

Answer: Well I pre-ordered the wooden box special edition from Season Of Mist so I'm obviously still a fan of the band.I'm just playing IDI now on release day, and I honestly don't know what all the online fuss is about- OK it doesn't beat the B, C or D albums because they were ahead of their time and nothing could ever top their groundbreaking and classic A album- but it sounds pretty great to me on first listen. The production is dynamic and lively, which makes it an improvement over the sterile sounding H album. If anything its the 'weird' tracks which are the interesting parts for me.

After the traditional Laibach-esque instrumental as album opener, the album proper begins with David Vincent announcing, rather prophetically, "This is Your One Warning"- before a barrage of programmed kick drums take over and the band goes right into Too Extreme!. Frankly, I was blown away by the audacity of this, they could have chosen the "safe' option- but the band will have known full well that a song like this would polarise opinion right from the outset. Personally, I find the kick drum programs a bit 90s and a bit dated, but I really love the constantly pitch-changing FX on the guitars. This track's vibe is like teetering on the edge of chaos, which sums up everything about Morbid Angel.

On 'Radikult' and also to some extent 'I Am Morbid', overtly self-referential lyrics come to the fore, sung in an almost bragging style. This is new territory for Morbid Angel, and seems strange coming from a band who built their zealous fanbase by dealing in other-wordly, magical and mystical themes.

What is also different about this album - their first in 8 years- has been the absolute shitstorm of online opinion immediately prior to its release. This is their first album released during the highly socially-networked era, and to a very different generation of extreme music fans than those around for 2003's Heretic. Back then, there was no MySpace, YouTube or Facebook, even Blabbermouth was barely up and running- all fans had to exchange views and communicate were a few metal message boards and ye olde "word of mouth". Also new is the ease which which fans can download leaked Mp3 copies and seemingly have been doing so in their thousands in the week up to official release. It's pretty easy to be super-critical after downloading free files when you've not made any financial or emotional investment to obtain it.

Watching this shit-storm of hatred from so-called fans venting their spleen online has been the REAL eye-opener for me. I've never seen such a vitriolic backlash, except maybe following Metallica's 'St Anger', and even though Earache has nothing to do with the new album, it's been quite educational for me to follow the firestorm. I'm transfixed.

It seems everything we do online these days has turned into a popularity contest, the biggest sites ask you to register your like or dislike of whatever page you are on, the instant you land on it. Morbid Angel is a band who are pretty introspective, who steadfastly follow their own creative path, rarely if ever checking out what their peers are doing. As Trey says in interviews, they create their music firstly to satisfy their own creative instincts- not for any fan or journalists approval.Even so, I suspect they have never witnessed such a deluge of disapproval arriving at their doorstep,like this:

Hitler reacts to new Morbid Angel:

Whats laughable about this is David Vincent sings "Killer Kult, Killer Kult" at the beginning of Radikult yet the online geniuses/critics misheard the lyrics as "Kill a Cop Cop, Kill a Cop" and the baying mob swallowed it whole. When the critics cite "Bodycount called and want their lyrics back", which is patently wide of the mark, things really are way out of hand, and have reached the pinnacle of absurdity.

What is bemusing to me, is how fans are zeroing in on the weird tracks as if its a total sell-out to the death metal scene for a band to experiment a bit or break up the album flow with a different vibe. Morbid Angel has always done this, on every album since A. Admittedly the quirky interludes were short and were hardly main album songs.Often they were simply a chance for the band to indulge their Laibach or video game fantasies before returning to the main business of blasting, shredding death metal. Check out Trooper or Dreaming :

Morbid Angel Trooper

Morbid Angel Dreaming

I'm pretty certain that a good proportion of the current generation of Death Metal fans will know the band only from single mp3 track downloads, or possibly even Youtube clips of the main songs from Morbid's back catalog.

This has made them pretty intolerant of anything but their fave tracks. I speculate that today's fans can't actually handle and are ill at ease with a complete 45 minute album. No-one has time to waste checking out the variety of vibes which can be displayed on an album anymore, mostly they'll just cherry pick the most well-known songs.

I suspect a good proportion of fans don't even actually play albums anymore- just mp3 collections of their favourite tracks.

Despite all the backlash, if what I'm hearing is true 2000 of the special wooden box editions are completely sold out, at £100+ a time, so you do the math! For Morbid Angel in 2011, its very much Death Metal business as usual.

Long Live Morbid Angel.

[DISCLAIMER: I signed Morbid Angel and my label Earache released everything they recorded for the first 9 releases, working with them daily for almost 2 decades. Earache parted ways with the band in 2004, but we continue to promote their stellar back catalog and regularly co-operate with band and their management over re-issue campaigns.So,yes I'm biased.]

PS: When Trey talks about Terrorcore in interviews, I assume he means stuff like this:


Luke Oram said...

SO far the fan response to this album has been overwhelmingly negative- isn't it somewhat condescending to suggest this is primarily because said fans either haven't listened to the back catalog properly, or that they are incapable of listening to a 45 minute recording?

Or maybe they listened to it and just didn't like it very much? All this shows is that modern connectivity media makes it harder for the label to control the PR :)

aparecido_mf said...

Well I think that we are all biased to some extent, I think that with this new record they set up to create all this craze response .. so as you say is pretty much bussiness as usual at the Morbid Angel camp.

BTW regarding the one track that I heard from the new album, I liked it and found it interesting to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff Dig! Listened to the album last night and I think they are trying a bit hard to garner support from Pantera/Black Album fans (Dave's vocals in particular), but otherwise it's a fairly decent album. The techno beats are outdated, 90s gabba, and the tracks should have been shorter, but you can't deny the Domination vibe on Nevermore, Existo and Beauty. Blades even reminds me of Brainstorm. It's a 4.5/10 which by Morbid Angel's standards is awful, but it's not a Cold Lake. Which isn't even as bad as people made out at the time. I too await the now delayed box set. Cheers

Anonymous said...

The 1996 gabber beats and the 2006 drum production really clash and not in a good way. One would think in eight years they'd have come up with stronger material.

Anonymous said...

Uhhh... no? I've been a fan since the late-90s, and I am also a fan of a wide, wide variety of music, and this album flat-out sucks. It's fucking nu-metal half the time. To throw some of your own condescending bullshit back at you, being that you sign flavor-of-the-day "deathcore" bands these days, I don't think your opinion on what "good music" is should be considered very viable.

Anonymous said...

New Morbid Angel is absolutely brilliant! 8/10

Anonymous said...

Dig, you said it all! Illud is a great work: death metal tracks are solid and catchy, unorthodox songs are brilliant. In particular, I love Destructos (excellent) and Mea Culpa (fantastic)!

Anonymous said...

P.S. About Domination, how many light years ahead was?

Joaquim said...

Very good post Dig. I see other reasons for the amount of anger this album is getting. Even here, which further proves your point.

Fans are much more conservative than anything else nowadays. If in the 90s bands competed to change, with sub-categories so much established today nobody wants creativity.

Thrash revival is largely responsible for that. It's all become sub ghettos and retro/nostalgia. Morbid Angel is supposed to deliver orthodox death metal, as creators of the genre. Not new music.

In the 90s bands compete to see who could change the most. Paradise Lost, Napalm Death, Carcass, Pestilence, Cynic, Morgoth, Sepultura, Fear Factory, Pungent Stench, Disharmonic Orchestra, Entombed, all released albums making radical experiments with their sound, playing with Stoner Metal, electronics, jazz, goth, etc.

Nowadays you are supposed to stay in your genre and stick to it. Reassuring the new generation of listeners who want more of the same.

Mick Usher said...

From reading reviews of more than a few albums this year this album has polarized opinion more than any other this year.
I think that's a GOOD thing.
I like the album.
All those who say it's too off the MA road map...well yeah, I it such a bad thing?
David Vincent has been in "industrial land" ever since leaving MA, SHOCK HORROR he brought some of that back and Trey thought, "well hey, let's give it a go - mess some shit up"
People are shouting "Soulfly jumpdafuckup crap", "Manson shit" blah, blah...
Neat for a band to mix Manson and Soulfly attitudes on the same album...maybe a bit late to the party,'s MA and they bring some old and new ingredients to the end result.
Sometimes the gut reaction is to say "this is shit" when 5 years later and with hindsight you'd rather have said "I didn't quiet get it at the time"
On repeated listens there's a LOT of stuff that may come out if you give it a chance.
Did for me.

bill said...

To be honest, I agree with the negative comments, I think the album is terrible. Been a fan for a long time and was wondering what was going on with the psuedo 90's goth look they've taken up in recent years. This look and the album kind of make some bizarre sense.

That said, they still are awesome live.

Chris said...

A spirited defence of the album, Dig - but you must be more than a little pleased that it won't be YOUR label sending thousands of copies of this CD into the bargain bins of the nations!

Anonymous said...

This album is not daring or innovative. It's just badly conceived. And as for the condescending remarks that "I speculate that today's fans can't actually handle and are ill at ease with a complete 45 minute album" what a load of bollocks. I don't like the album cause it doesn't flow and is badly disjointed. It sounds like a bad industrial rock compilation with a couple of token Morbid Angel songs.

Anonymous said...

The problem with these 'outside' influences is that they sound over 10 years out of date.

it is daring for a band like Morbid Angel to play with these influences, sure, but only because it's not a wise move in 2011.

I always suspected that Trey wasn't paying attention to what was going on in extreme metal for years, and this album simply confirms it.

M.A used to be leaders, now they are lost. It has nothing to do with 'open mindedness'. I listen to all kinds of music. THe problem is that, to my ears, it sounds cheap and dated and more than a little clueless.

Anonymous said...

I REALLY listen to all kinds of music and I can say that Morbid Angel have composed a work that other death metal bands can only imagine in their wet dreams...

David said...

Thank you for a review that FINALLY is an even-tempered critique and not a knee-jerk panning after hearing something different.

There is a lot of good stuff on the new album, once you get past the experimental stuff that swung for the fences (and admittedly missed). I like 7 of the 11 new tracks, and think "10 More Dead" and "Blades For Baal" are instant classics.

To read some of the vicious reviews that categorize the entire album as a "trainwreck", just tells me the reviewers did not sit down and actually *listen* to the album. They heard the experimental tracks and wanted to pile on.

The production is great, Trey's solos are outstanding, and Tim Yeung did a great job filling in for Pete. So to my mind, the histrionics about the death of Morbid Angel are a bit wearisome.

Anonymous said...

I haven't really listened to Morbid Angel before. Then I heard the new album and loved it. Radikvlt may sound a bit too much like Marilyn Manson but mostly the album is excellent. After hearing it I've listened to some of their older albums. I like them but at least this far not as much as the new album.

Anonymous said...

I listened to Morbid Angel after years and I'm frankly surprised at the criticism. New album is interesting, fresh and catchy. Of course, industrial and techno influences are not new, but the tracks are arranged in a modern way. Controversial Radikult doesn't sound like Morbid Angel, but as a musician I think it's a very good song.

Modern Zeuhl said...

I guess this album is considered "extreme" as the reaction to listening to it has to be extreme. Everyone I know who has listened to IDI has chosen his opinion : it's either a great album or a huge pile of crap.

For me, it's a pile of crap. I've read some very condescending opinions about people who don't like this album, so that I would like to give my own opinion. I have listened carefully to this album. Three times in a row, because I wanted to know what was the message. Morbid Angel had recorded seven albums before, ranging from excellent to mediocre (I'm looking at you, freakin' Heretic !), and I was more than curious to hear something new. "Fuck the H album, we're gonna explore new grounds !" That's all I like to hear.

But the way it is done is, to me, really bad. Trey has done industrial music the way some did it in '96. When I think about "a blend of hardcore beats and death-metal guitars", the name I have in mind is Fast Forward : their album "Mabinogion" is a revolution in death/hardcore blend, it's a thousand times The Berzerker, it's radical, extreme, catchy, well-produced.

IDI is not that well-composed, -produced... IMO, it's not even really inspired. This album is fifteen years late.

And don't try and psychanalyse me : I'm not this "over-conservative fan" you look upon with despise. Can't you accept that some intelligent and respectful people may hate an album you consider brilliant ? When The Kovenant incorporated all this electronic stuff in their music, I loved it ten times as much as before, because they were inspired and original. Where is the originality here ? I have already heard everything that was put in this album, but here, it has been just piled, quite clumsily. It's not innovation to me, it's "we are Morbid Angel, fuck you". Worth 129 dollars ?

Anonymous said...

I love how lefty gets up on their soapbox and accuses those who don't like this album as "close minded, etc". Well guess what lefty, sometimes "change" sucks just like this album.


Jeremy and the Process of Knowing said...

I have been part of the Morbid Angel nation for close to 20 years now! In my opinion, if you don't get/appreciate the Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, or Heretic albums then you don't get what Morbid Angel is all about. With that said, I must say that the new album is complete CRAP!! It is a cheap attempt at commercializing Death Metal, or making it more "listener friendly!" My fellow MB comrads, I think we all know who is responsible for that! Simply said, David Vincent needs to go!

I'll admit to litening to some industrial music like Ministry, Marilyn Manson, NIN, and some others, but IN NO WAY does that sound belong in Morbid Angel! If anything, it reminds as a cross between that emo NuMetal garbage, and a more extreme "St. Anger."

I hope Trey realizes that he, along with Pete are MORBID ANGEL, and fire Dave!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dig.

Truth be told, I haven't paid much attention to Earache in some time, so your commentary on the new Morbid Angel album has been for me, bemusing indeed!

So, if your "pretty certain that a good proportion of the current generation of Death Metal fans will know the band only from single mp3 track downloads, or possibly even Youtube clips of the main songs from Morbid's back catalog.

This has made them pretty intolerant of anything but their fave tracks. I speculate that today's fans can't actually handle and are ill at ease with a complete 45 minute album. No-one has time to waste checking out the variety of vibes which can be displayed on an album anymore, mostly they'll just cherry pick the most well-known songs.

I suspect a good proportion of fans don't even actually play albums anymore- just mp3 collections of their favourite tracks.

Despite all the backlash, if what I'm hearing is true 2000 of the special wooden box editions are completely sold out, at £100+ a time, so you do the math! For Morbid Angel in 2011, its very much Death Metal business as usual. Long Live Morbid Angel."

I can could only hope thats the reason why "Illud Divinum Insanus" wasn't released on your label. Unfortunately, I suspect otherwise. I personally, applaud the band for thier courage, but must crticise the album as a failed endeavor. Polish this turd if you feel you must, but as a first generation death (extreme) metal fan... I'm just going to call it as I see it and flush it down the toilet.

Unfaithfully yours!

Portugal said...

"I'm With You" is no different, just not as good. The first single has their usual melody and sound and it sets the stage for what most of the rest of the album sounds like, but not quite. I'm not going to get into each song specifically as the album sort of blends together and they don't differentiate too much. That is not a bad thing, but there is little that stands out on the album.

Anonymous said...

I've been listening to morbid angel almost daily since i heard them 10 years ago. At first i was a bit surprised by a couple of songs on the newest album, for example "radikult". BUT. The Radikult solo has to be one of my favorite morbid angel guitar solos... and i've heard them all. For cunts to disrespect morbid angel is ridiculous. they ARE Death Metal as far as i'm concerned. There are many other great bands, but for me personally noone does it better than Morbid Angel, Trey's solos scramble my brain and pete's drums and style is not matched by anyone i've heard thus far.

IF you dislike the album, just shut the fuck up and keep it to yourself. no need for shit talking about one of the greatest bands in music history.

Fuck off

Anonymous said...

It's not at all a case of fans not wanting change these days. People were as pissed about the likes of Paradise Lost, etc changing as they are about Morbid Angel these days. in the past bands would change their style to widen their audience and make more money. This would be encouraged by their labels, if not instigated by them. And in turn the music press would praise the change, to keep things sweet with the labels, should they lose their revenue from advertising. They would proclaim how bold the changes were and deride any dissenters as narrow-minded and how they should look at the bigger picture. There was very few outlets for making contrary feelings known.
But the response to the latest Morbid Angel album displays what interesting times we now live in with the rise of the internet. As mentioned earlier, it's harder for labels to control their PR because of it.
The internet also brings more possibilities for band exposure. In the past, many fans would have tolerated changes as there was limited means of discovering alternatives. These days, bands will make such blatant changes at their peril!
A huge percentage of the potential sales base for Morbid Angel these days would be fans who've supported them for ten, fifteen or even twenty years. I personally got into them when Altars Of Madness was released in '89. To say that it's younger fans who've only downloaded selected tracks doesn't really hold water.