REVIEW: MORBID ANGEL – “Kingdom Disdained”
Although some would argue that Death Metal pioneers Morbid Angel have been treading on loose ground since ‘Domination’ (or more specifically, with the culmination of the David Vincent era), but I would mark ‘Heretic’ as the start of the downfall and ‘Illud Divinus Insanus’ to hit the final nail on the coffin. I also admit when I heard about the band regrouping and working on a new album, I wasn’t expecting too much. However, as the details emerged, I got more and more intrigued. From the announcement of the return of Steve Tucker, to the addition of drummer Scotty Fuller (Annihilated and ex-Absymal Dawn) and Dan Vadim Von (Vadimvon) and finally when the artwork was revealed, I couldn’t help myself from sporting a silly fanboy grin on my face. I must also admit, when I received the band’s ninth full length album ‘Kingdom Disdained’ in my mailbox, I was jumping around in excitement but also nervous as hell, hoping it doesn’t turn out like their previous effort.
The album artwork paints a fiery blood soaked apocalyptic image which, at first glance, feels as if a huge demonic (satanic?) beast is running amok over a city, destroying it piece by piece. However, a second look reveals the beast itself is on fire and there are parts of the city protruding out of his body. So, it also kind of gives a feeling as if the city itself is the monster and the destruction is actually the portrayal of the destruction induced on itself. Well, whatever it symbolizes, the mammoth beast on the cover art perfectly summarizes the sound of the album – it is massive!
Right from the get go, the band bludgeons your guts with Trey Azagthoth’s and Vadim Von’s buzz saw riffage perfectly mirrored by Fuller’s relentless double-bass and Tucker’s heavy lower end. Tucker’s vocals kick in with full fury and as the opener violently penetrates your cochleas, it dawns on you know that there is absolutely no space for any bullshit experimentation on this album. This is as close as it gets to the glorious past!
The opener titled “Piles Of Little Arms” perfectly envelops the technical and brutal aspects of the band’s sound, not yielding to any one aspect in favor of the other. Before you barely recover from the onslaught of the opener, “D.E.A.D” ravages your eardrums with a surge of blastbeats and relentless Death Metal tremolo riffage that ends with a loud groan of an injured monster. And much like an unpredictable injured monster cornered in its lair, it unleashes a relentless gush of winding old school Death Metal guitar lines spinning around your brain like a sinister serpentine, only to give way to a crunchy groove laden massive hook completely throwing you off guard. The structure of this track is unpredictable with several twists and turns that keep you hooked. “Garden of Disdain” and “Architect And Iconoclast” turn on a slower and groovier contrast definitely reminding you of the band’s older sounds. There is a riff pattern on the 1 minute mark on “Architect and Iconoclast” that gets repeated multiple times on the track, and I swear, sitting still during those moments is a challenge. The band mixes their pace really well and each track is peppered with sudden twists and turns that took me back on a nostalgic journey.
Newcomer Scotty Fuller delivers amazingly well on the entire album. The controlled aggression and the exquisite fills make him stand out and considering you have Trey Azagthoth’s presence in the band, it is a huge deal. There were moments on “The Pillars Crumbling” where my focus was violently shifted from Azagthoth to Fuller’s drum fills and groove laden drum parts. The entire band sounds tighter than ever and holds the listener’s attention throughout the 47 minutes of the album. The production is quite crisp with each element of the sound appropriately coming to the fore as needed. Tucker sounds like a beast and I really feel David Vincent’s fans may actually embrace Tucker’s vocals on this record.
Sticking to their roots, the band delivers a solid comeback album which will be on your playlists for a long time. ‘Kingdom Disdained’ will renew the faith you had lost on Morbid Angel and I pray the band members stick around long enough into the future.