Morbid Angel
Kingdoms Disdained

It’s been quite a year for the old guard of American Death metal. Obituary, Immolation, Suffocation, Broken Hope, Incantation, Dying Fetus and such all releasing albums in 2017. But none may be more important to any band right now than Morbid Angel‘s 10th (proper) album, Kingdoms Disdained.  After the controversial shit show that was Illud Divinum Insanus back in 2011, the band seemed to disappear in the subsequent storm of criticism, David Vincent left the band (again), Tim Yeung was out after only one album, and only  Trey Azazghoth was left standing. One wondered if the band would survive or simply fade away with Illud Divinum Insanus as their ill fated swan song.

Well , Trey called in some favors and brought back Steve Tucker who replaced Vincent once before and performed on Gateways to Annihilation, Heretic and Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, which some would argue are the better Morbid Angel releases. Also joining the fold  is drummer Scott Fuller (Annihilated, ex Abysmal Dawn), an excellent choice, and relatively unknown guitarist Dan Vidim. Now, having seen this lineup perform old and a new song live, I was curious to see how a whole album of this line up fared and if the promising teased songs “Warped” (on the album as “Paradigms Warped” and “Pile of Little Arms” were merely snippets of the whole of of the whole album followed suite. Well, I’m happy to report Morbid Angel are indeed back as Kingdoms Disdained is a return to form and an expected return to the Tucker era of the band.

The meat and potatoes of the album is the slow, miasmal churn of the Tucker trio laced with plenty of blasts and Trey’s other worldly solos and twisty riffage. The 10 songs and perfect 47 minute run time is compact and free from filler . From hard charging opener “Pile of Little Arms” to ” closer “The Fall of Idols”, the band is tangibly and forcefully trying to erase Illud Divinum Insanus  from your memory.  Standouts are the slower Gateways sounding tracks like “Gardens Disdained”, “The Pillars Crumbling”, classic throwback sounding standouts “The Righteous Voice” and “Architect and Iconoclast” or crushingly simple “Declaring New Law” and “Paradigms Warped”, where the heaving, lumbering riffage resonates deft, angular heft, bolstered by Erik Rutan’ s production and will certainly bring a smile to the faces of fans left betrayed by the last effort.

Trey ensures his mark is left on a number of the tracks with his alien solos (“The Righteous Voice”, “From the Hand of Kings”, “The Fall of Idols”) and some of the riffs are clearly from his mind, but I get the sense Tucker was given a pretty free reign with many of the songs, but more on that later. The speedier tracks are less album defining but certainly re-enforce that the band is back as “D.E.A.D”, “For No Master”, “From the Hand of Kings”  and the aforementioned album bookends certainly deliver an more blistering and fierce tone. Not a techno beat, gang chorus or electronic piece anywhere in sight.

Despite the quality of the album, a couple of things  give me pause. First, this is just a few Trey Azagthoth warbly solos  and a blue cover away from  the second album from Tucker’s other band Warfather, The Grey Eminence.  And frankly, if you would have given me this album competently blind, I would have quite easily thought it was Tucker’s third Warfather album. And one has to wonder how the two projects will be defined and separated going forward. Second, the Erik Rutan production, is very similar to Cannibal Corpse‘s recent Red Before Black, and while a very beefy production (arguably the band’s beefiest ever), it’s not anything that immediately identifies with Morbid Angel‘s prior recent Tucker albums which had a little weirdness or off tone that made it clearly Morbid Angel.  Also- despite the Summerian themes, gone are the little quirky Trey-sims and interludes that also define the Tucker era albums. It’s like the band is forcing the straight up death metal a little too hard to make up for Illud Divinum Insanus.

Still, those are minor personal gripes with an otherwise excellent comeback album from a band that truly needed it, and an album that almost atones for llud Divinum Insanus . Almost.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
November 20th, 2017

Comments

  1. Commented by: Dave

    I’ve heard from people who know him that apparently Trey likes to be heavily involved in the production process. Much, much more so than he should be. Which might explain why the recent Cannibal Corpse album sounds killer while this sounds like it was recorded underwater.


  2. Commented by: Nick K

    That or Rutan didn’t give himself enough time to let his ears heal up. I think that was an issue with The Hate Eternal album Fury & Flames.. He just did Cannibal before going into the studio to do Hate Eternal Record.

    It’s not a terrible record by any means.. but it could sound better.

    NK


  3. Commented by: emperorj

    This album is just ok so far… reminded me of FFF. Wish it was more Gateways-like.

    Also, the Hate Eternal album Fury & Flames, other than the bass being too high up, has a fantastic sound when listened to through a high-quality, neutral setup – not the rap-centered, bass infused sound system crap being promoted these days as “good.”


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