Released: 2011, Season of Mist
The kings are dead - such is the pervading sentiment amongst the boatload of less than complimentary reviews that flooded the internet moments after the eighth installment in the Morbid Angel discography first entered the public domain. Not for these disgruntled pundits the Floridian quartet's apparently daring experimentation - nor even were they enamored with the record's more traditional fare. But then again, nine years in stasis and with the weight of expectation only amplified following frontman David Vincent's return to the fold, the question begs as to whether this was ever going to be a record met with anything other than gross disappointment?
So, let's be clear from the get-go: the rumors you heard were true - this isn't a great album. By Morbid Angel standards its downright piss-poor at times and its hokey, intentionally nostalgic intro does nothing to raise expectations. Nor indeed does the interesting but ultimately flawed and grossly out of place industrial foray, "Too Extreme!" instill any confidence in the band's ability to raise the bar for death metal in the same manner their earlier work had done. But to flippantly cease proceedings at this stage would be to forgo the pleasure of arguably the record's two finest cuts in "Existo Vulgore" and "Blades For Baal" - both seeped in the precision blasts and brutality upon which Morbid Angel's reputation was built. It also means that you'd miss out on the chance to really see them embarrass themselves on "I'm Morbid" and, to a marginally lesser degree, "10 More Dead". The former plays out like a half-assed stab at channeling Pantera's southern-fried groove, while the latter is a poor relation (at best) to "Where the Slime Live".
It could well be because of how cringe-worthy the aforementioned two tracks are, that makes "Destructos VS The Earth" sound halfway listenable. Another one of the disc's leftfield moments, it's mash-up of vintage Morbid Angel riffing and swathes of hardcore electronica that actually gels rather well. In stark contrast "Radikult" appears to have been pilfered directly from Marilyn Manson's cutting room floor; truly if you weren't yet ready to accept that Morbid Angel's comeback isn't all it was hacked up to be, then this may well be the moment you join the chorus-line of detractors. That the album limps to its unsatisfactory conclusion on the back of the disjointed mess that is "Profundis - Mea Culpa", simply rubs salt into already-festering wounds.
There are moments of sheer genius scatter-bombed across ILLUD DIVINIUM INSANUS and Trey Azagtoth remains a helluva guitarist as much as David Vincent's voice still sounds gloriously commanding. But if this is all they could come up with in nine years, they may as well have waited a little longer, because in hindsight, this record will surely be branded a blemish on a reputation that was once synonymous with quality.