Morbid Angel Illud Divinum Insanus

Morbid Angel Illud Divinum Insanus
After an eight-year wait between albums, the new release from death metal divinities Morbid Angel covers a long list of firsts: first album with original vocalist/bassist David Vincent since 1996; first without drummer Pete Sandoval; first not released by Earache Records; and the list goes on. Brought to you by the letter "I" (all their previous albums have been alphabetically named, A to H), Illud Divinum Insanus employs electronic applications unheard since Laibach and the Berserker remixed some Morbid tunes, to little notice, in the late '90s. Vincent's growl has been tempered to that of Fear Factory's Burton Bell, which seems to better fit the techno-leaning tunes. Their new direction flourishes in the Rammstein-styled "Too Extreme!" and "Destructos vs. the Earth/Attack," the latter featuring female back-up vocals. The best of the techno-laced pack, the Prong-like "Radikult," is a mid-paced industrial number that spotlights some of Azagthoth's most tuneful soloing. Mercifully, the techno torture lasts only four songs, then "Existo Vulgoré" blasts forth with maximum aplomb, demonstrating the metronomic beats of ex-Hate Eternal drummer Tim Yeung (who's filling in while Sandoval heals from back surgery). "Blades for Baal" and "Nevermore" maintain this deathly momentum, while the mid-paced "10 More Dead" and "I Am Morbid" (complete with crowd chants) sound like outtakes from the Covenant sessions. Vincent smacks of Pantera's Phil Anselmo at his most vicious (circa Far Beyond Driven) on "Beauty Meets Beast," while Azagthoth shreds several guitars to splinters during the solos. Though Illud Divinum Insanus proves that even Morbid Angel cannot survive on death alone, ultimately time will tell whether or not they'll be hailed as leaders or laughingstock for it. With superior albums out now from Morbid alums in Hate Eternal and Nader Sadek, Vincent and company have been forced to witness the apprentices overtake the masters. (Season of Mist)