Morbid Angel are back, reunited with Steve Tucker, death metal and a proper respect for the elder tentacle gods. The Morbid Disco of Illud Divinum Insanus and David Vincent are nowhere in sight and the band sound evil, fired up and hungry to recapture the death metal crown.
I don’t begrudge a band experimentation, but Morbid Angel had a near flawless legacy of album after solid death metal album. Illud just effed with that way too much and some of the vocals were just…how do I say this…goofy, hot garbage. Steve Tucker understands what the guys who made Illud let themselves forget, that while there are many bands influenced by Morbid Angel (Gojira prominently come to mind), there is no one who can BE Morbid Angel quite like the Morbid Angel. You can take the David Vincent out but I Am Morbid should take note that you can’t really do it without Trey Azagthoth. It just won’t have the same feel. We have Igorr, Zeal & Ardor, lapis exilis or any number of all over the place stylistically bands in the underground but Morbid Angel are a precious well of slime that can not be replaced. I think about Jay Z telling people to buy his old albums if people want that him, but with Morbid Angel or Slayer it is just different. It just feels wrong when they stray too far somehow, haha.
Anyway, Kingdoms Disdained is incredibly enjoyable. Opening with the shifting and double bass heavy “Piles Of Little Arms”, the band are off to the races. The song title is almost too death metal, like a borderline early Cannibal Corpse title, but the group clearly want to prove they are back at it with no funny business.
The drums are kind of loud in the mix in places but there is a very present yet dirty quality to the bass and guitars. Rutan knocked it out of the park and he knows Morbid Angel, for sure. Much like he has done with Goatwhore and Agnostic Front or other bands, Rutan captures their strengths and core sound and brings it up front and center to great organic result.
So, the guitar work? The first outro solo at 3:32 is brief but definitely opens a chaos portal and sets up second slogger “D.E.A.D.” awesomely. “D.E.A.D.” has CRAZY riffage, really inspired stuff from Trey that climbs the walls and will make you stare with eyes wide and mouth open at the stereo or computer scarcely believing the structure. “Garden Of Disdain” opens with a lightning fast attack before crashing into a classic mid tempo gnarly crawl riff the way only Morbid Angel can really do it. It is as heavy or heavier than anything on Blessed Are The Sick or Formulas.
While the cover art made me scared they were going to go in some modern technical death direction, the record is very old school. “Paradigms Warped” has the sort of brutal heft that lifts you out of your skin which I crave from Morbid Angel, whether they are blasting you with speed or crushing you to dust. This song falls mostly on the latter side of the spectrum, a trudge through bloody mud towards a black hole swallowing cities as double bass reigns wild. There is also some great slow and muscular bass that is quite prominent through a dissonant chordal section. “For No Master” really lets Scotty Fuller prove his worth on drums, holding down the speed and tom action stupendously. I would say this album is better than Heretic and very close if not equal to Gateways, but it is also really fresh and so far I have loved every second of it.
I don’t want to spoil the awesome finale track, but suffice to say it rips your head off and you know the Gods have returned.