Kingdoms Disdained - Morbid Angel
Artist: Morbid Angel
Album: Kingdoms Disdained
Genre: Death Metal
Release date: December 1st 2017
Review by Jackson Price
Writing a review for any band that has a career spanning 3 decades will always bring about a sort of respect in some way. With a band that has been referred to as The Godfathers of “X” or Pioneers or “X” it can be difficult to separate the body of work, history and influence from whatever latest release they have to offer, and with everything surrounding the Morbid Angel camp since their 2011 album Illud Divinum Insanus (hopefully this is the only time I reference that album in this review), it’s understandable that a lot of long time fans are waiting with gavels held high to pass their own personal judgement on the band, it’s future and most importantly this latest release.
Kingdoms Disdained began it’s inception with a massive line up change for the band. Founding member, guitarist and the only constant since the bands beginning, Trey Azagthoth saw himself reunited with bassist/vocalist Steve Tucker who was the bands frontman for albums such as Formulas Fatal to the Flesh (1998) and Gateways to Annihilation (2000). Drum duties have been filled by Scott Fuller, the bands first official drummer since the 2015 departure of Tim Yeung, whom was the first replacement drummer of the bands long time skin man Pete Sandoval. The recent announcement has also been made that Dan Vadim Von from the band Vadimvon has been hired as the band’s second guitarist. So there’s 2 observations that can be made here, the first being very obvious that the band now have a good mix of new and old blood within it ranks, and the second observation being no members apart from Trey remain from the 2011 release (Damn it, I did reference it again). So take away from that what you will.
The album opens with the first and only released single at this stage, 'Piles of Little Arms'. This track reminds listeners of why Tucker’s prior work with the band is commonly thought of as some of the most pissed off and aggressive material in their catalogue. The song is angry, to the point and shows a flash of that lead guitar flavour Azagthoth is know for. The following tracks 'D.E.A.D.' and 'Garden of Disdain' just solidify the fact that this is Morbid Angel and this is a death metal album.
It’s when track 4, 'The Righteous Voice' kicks in that the sludge gates are truly thrown wide open. The blazing double bass, half time guitar chugs and harmonic squeals mixed with a battering vocal delivery throw the listener into the realm of raw quintessential Morbid Angel song writing. Now dynamic feel changes start becoming more apparent and the album moves up a gear. Just over halfway through the track we experience another one of Trey’s prominent lead sections with all those interesting note and phrasing choices that have separated his playing style from any other of his counterparts.
'Paradigms Warped' brings in the mid point of the album and has the band still showing a contrast in writing ideas, with the songs main idea based on a very prevalent distorted bass line and more downbeat feel. The searing and apocalyptic collection of songs continues with stand outs such as 'For No Master', another genuinely chaotic and aggressive piece, and the unrelenting grind that is 'From the Hand of Kings'. As the 11th and final song 'The Fall of Idols' begins, it really struck me how this album has managed to tick so many boxes of what I wanted in a Morbid Angel album, and how the band seem to have achieved so much just by staying true to those sounds and approach that got them the Morbid Angel reputation.
In a lot of ways this album doesn’t have anything new or groundbreaking for fans. There is no experimentation with electronica, or rap sections, or breakdowns. Tucker isn’t writing songs about love or quantum mechanics or weird little subject matter from his daily life. Instead they have done what seems to come naturally to them. Morbid Angel have had this sound that already gave Trey plenty of room to move with different sound ideas, it was already an outlet for aggressive vocals and ridiculously explosive drumming with subject matter and feel moving in directions that suited them. Kingdoms Disdained is refreshing in the fact it sounds like it has been made on the band members terms, and has refused to budge in any direction other than the one the band has been traveling in for the better part of is existence.
With 2017 nearly at it’s end, Kingdoms Disdained will leave extreme music fans on a high as the year fizzles out. This one’s going in my top 10 for sure! So, to sum up my thoughts for the final part of this review, I say this. Steve Tucker is Back! Morbid Angel are still Morbid Angel! and this is one hell of a death metal album!
9 out of 10.
Kingdoms Disdained will be released December 1st 2017 via Silver Lining Music.