Six years ago MORBID ANGEL released their most anticipated and ultimately most disappointing album, Illud Divinum Insanus. Instead of the album being a return to the Domination-era sound or a continuation of the very obscure, Heretic, the band experimented with industrial, hardcore, and even rock influences. Well, fans should be happy, and perhaps relieved, to know that Kingdoms Disdained is a return to pure death metal.
With the perpetually underrated Steve Tucker back in the fold, MORBID ANGEL have their best album since Formulas Fatal to the Flesh and Gateways to Annihilation. Former guitarist Erik Rutan handled the production. New drummer Scott Fuller does a solid job.
With full mastery and power, the band goes into full attack mode from the first note on “Piles of Little Arms.” The riff that kicks in late at the 2:50 mark is godly. “D.E.A.D.” is intentionally discordant, schizophrenic and suffocating.
The momentum of Kingdoms Disdained then falls too much into a plodding pace and tone. The riffing is overly busy without strong hooks. There are dynamics but they don’t possess enough charisma and power to excite. “Garden of Disdain” is essentially a little brother to “Where the Slime Live.” Things continue to lose a bit of momentum with “The Righteous Voice” as the fast song sections are the only parts that keep it afloat. Stand out riffs shake the plodding such as the song section that kicks in at the 3:37 mark of “The Pillars Crumbling.” “Declaring New Law” is essentially a war chant. It is the simplest and most straight forward track.
The action picks back up with “From the Hand of Kings” as the band focuses on what works well on the album, speed and brutality, as shallow as that may sound. Closing track, “The Fall of Idols,” is gloriously intense and momentous. Trey Azagtoth’s guitar solo at the end is the sound of a behemoth falling to earth.
At the end of the day, Kingdoms Disdained is a good but not great album. The magic moments are too few and far between for a band of MORBID ANGEL’s legendary status. (Silver Lining)