With the welcome return of original frontman David Vincent and subsequent years of reunion shows, the stage has been set for one of the most anticipated albums in extreme metal history. Well, some ground rules/warnings need to be set before we get into Illud Divinum Insanus.
Are you a longtime fan that views MORBID ANGEL as the first name in death metal?
Are you expecting to be blown away by a death metal masterpiece that is a worthy successor to Domination?
Do you dislike hardcore (the electronic genre of music) and industrial?
Do you expect a 100% pure death metal album from MORBID ANGEL?
If you answered “yes” to every question, then stay away from this album. You will be utterly disappointed, upset, and just resentful towards the band. Yes, this will be another Load moment.
Illud Divinum Insanus starts off with a grandiose synthesizer intro with chants akin to something from Domination. As it draws to an end, you anticipate an intense death metal track. Instead, the band kicks into a fusion of pounding hardcore, industrial, and death metal. The vocal lines are catchy and David Vincent’s voice is as good as it ever was. However, it’s easy to envision legions of death metal/MORBID ANGEL purists vomiting in disgust. The following track, “Existo Vulgore,” kicks things to “normalcy.” The rest of the album alternates between mixes of pure death metal, hardcore/industrial, and rock (yes, rock).
First the good and easy to digest point, about half of the album is 100% MORBID ANGEL death metal. There are the scorchers, “Existo Vulgore,” “Blades for Baal,” and “Nevermore.” And man, does the band sound great on these songs - intense, razor sharp, and catchy. “10 More Dead” and “Beauty Meets Beast” are good slithering, energetic songs.
“I am Morbid” introduces the band’s first incorporation of a straight up rock feel to their music. “Radikult” kicks the bouncy rock influence to a new level. The song is an anthem to the band’s longevity and success but with lyrics that are significantly more “living free and wild rock ’n roll” than Necronomicon. “Destructos VS the Earth / Attack” sounds more appropriate for a GENITORTURERS album.
Guitarist Destructhor (ZYKLON, MYRKSKOG) is the perfect successor to Erik Rutan as his songwriting and guitar solo contributions are seamless. Drummer Tim Yeung does a great job taking the place of beloved drum god, Pete Sandoval.
It’s a no brainer that the band are expecting a large backlash over Illud Divinum Insanus. From a purely commercial point of view, this is not the album that will catapult them back to the commercial success they enjoyed during the Domination era. However, the album is far from being objectively bad. What it really boils down to is the phenomenon that many legendary bands go through: They pioneer and conquer a genre of music. They then decide to incorporate their personal favorite genres into their sound. Results tend to be mixed and fan feedback tends to be negative.
In the case of Illud Divinum Insanus, it really comes down to individual tastes and tolerance. But the bottom line is that this is not the comeback album that the metal world, at large, expected or wholeheartedly wanted. (Season of Mist)