When it comes to the David Vincent era of Morbid Angel, there’s really no debate; the band was at the top of their game. The band’s first four releases are among the most highly revered examples of death metal and have influenced countless bands since. Now with David Vincent’s first recording with the band in fifteen years (and the band’s first recording in eight), expectations were more than high for these reunited veterans. It pains me to say this, but Illud Divinum Insanus is easily the biggest disappointment of 2011 thus far, as well as one of the biggest let-downs in the genre’s recent past (Cryptopsy’s The Unspoken King, anyone?)
It’s painfully obvious to see why Illud Divinum Insanus is simply a joke and overall bummer to listen to. Long gone are the furious and inventive riffs from founding member/guitar wizard Trey Azagthoth. Long gone are the unrelenting blast-beats and furious double-bass beats from Pete Sandoval. Instead, we’re left with fifty-six plodding minutes of (mostly) forgettable death metal and/or offensively terrible industrial metal. It’s not to say that Azagthoth’s solos still aren’t occasionally brilliant; songs like “I Am Morbid” and “10 More Dead” still show the man’s chops and creativity. It’s just that songs like “Existo Vulgore” and “Blades for Baal” don’t seem to offer anything particularly new to the band’s already large canon; truly a disappointment considering the band has always prided themselves on innovation. Replacement drummer Tim Yeung (Vital Remains, Hate Eternal, Divine Heresy) offers a decent pocket performance with plenty of ridiculously fast beats, but the mixing keeps things feeling fairly…sterile (it may be the extremely triggered bass drums). “I Am Morbid” is decently catchy and features a fist-pumping chorus, but I can’t help but feel like I’ve heard this before, mostly from their classic, “Where the Slime Live”. I guess it’s nice to hear Morbid Angel occasionally doing something right, but there isn’t a lick of consistency to be found on this album.
This brings me to the two most egregious ear-sores on Illud Divinum Insanus: David Vincent and the band’s insistence that experimenting with industrial metal will actually work. It’s one of the most head-stratchingly confusing sounds I’ve come across in 2011, as well as one of the most annoying. The album’s first full song, “Too Extreme!” is both hilarious and atrocious; where the simplistic and painfully loud electronic bass drums are paired with Vincent’s equally atrocious lyrics (side note: they’re pretty awful pretty much the entire time). And while that would have been plenty of cannon fodder for the band’s die-hard fans alone, Illud Divinum Insanus makes this mistake three more times. “Radikult” is probably the band’s worst song of all time. The confusing and pointless collaboration with Combichrist “Destructos Vs. The Earth/Attack”, isn’t far behind, either. I think it goes without saying that the band won’t be adding any of these songs to their live show any time soon.
While Illud Divinum Insanus isn’t the absolute worst metal album I’ve ever heard, it’s definitely the worst of 2011. For a band with eight years in between studio releases, things just seem either far too lazy or intentionally obnoxious. Either way, I can’t imagine recommending this album to anyone. I won’t write off Morbid Angel as a whole just yet, but they’ve probably just lost a major portion of their fan base with their eighth LP. But hey, at least it's not St. Anger.