Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Distained

Well it’s finally here. The long awaited follow up to the album of which we do not speak.

We have the return of Steve Tucker and Eric Rutan at the production desk, so three quarters of the “Gateways To Annihilation” line up are working together for the first time in nearly two decades and manning the drum kit is Scott Fuller from one of death metal’s brightest rising stars Abysmal Dawn. I can’t think of an album in recent times where the stakes where so high.

After a week or so of repeated listens and reading very mixed reactions online I’m going to try and make sense of it all and try and cut through the noise. Since the album was released I’ve read everything from “That’s it Morbid Angel are over” to “Album of the year” the truth, as always is somewhere in the middle. I think some people claiming album of the year may be suffering from “Death Magnetic” syndrome where they are so relieved that the album isn’t terrible that they have got a bit carried away and a year down the line they are hardly listening to it. On the other hand the people writing the band off had indeed written them off years ago anyway.

“Kingdoms Distained” has two main issues and they are the two most commonly brought up. Horrible production and lack of memorable songs. Right, the second does fix itself with repeated listens but yes Eric Rutan’s hailstorm from hell production for all its strength’s doesn’t quite suit this release. Many people have said there’s no real solos from Trey. (Or Lavas as he calls them) They are there they just don’t jump out at you at first.

What you think of this album really depends on what you wanted from the album and what your favourite era of Morbid Angel is. One thing that is missing completely from this album is Trey’s atmospheric instrumental tracks. Some miss them, some are over joyed by their absence. Again it’s depends on the individual. If you wanted Morbid Angel to stop fucking around and go balls out heavy, well you’re in luck because that leads me to the good side of the album……

“Kingdoms Distained” IS 47 minutes of Morbid Angel brutality. It’s the straightest forward, no nonsense, balls to the wall, intense album the band have released since “Altars Of Madness”. Now, after a few unsure listens I thought to myself “The problem with this album is that it feels like listening to a Hate Eternal album not a Morbid Angel one”.

That’s when the penny dropped for me and that’s when I started to enjoy it. When you take into account Steve left the band and formed Warfather and Eric has been doing Hate Eternal. When both of those come back to the table to make a new Morbid Angel there’s no way that influence isn’t going to have a bearing on the sound of this album.

The album explodes through the speakers with 'Piles Of Little Arms' the track quickly settle into a groove during the verse, 'Garden Of Distain' settles into the familiar mid pace drudge which “Gateways…” was known for. “Declaring New Law” falls into a tribal looping rhythm that builds up intensity as the track moves along. I love the catchy lead at the end of 'The Pillars Crumbling' and 'D.E.A.D' and 'For No Master' are instantly recognisable Morbid Angel standards which are bound to become regulars in future live sets. I think 'The Fall Of Idols' the last track is actually one of the albums highlights because the track sums the band today up in under 5 minutes. It’s a dense track that goes for the throat which abruptly finishes with Steve barking “praise no man as saviour” before a solo from Trey rings out bringing the album to an immediate halt.

All in all this album serves two purposes. Damage control and setting the band back on the right path. It’s not the return to form we all hoped but it is a massive step in the right direction. It is a foundation laying album. Remember Steve hasn’t worked with Trey in over a decade and we have some new guys in tow. With a couple of hundred shows under the effectively new bands belt I think (I hope!) the return to from masterpiece is coming next.

It is worth sticking with and it is a grower and I think over time it will be seen as Morbid Angel in their purest form.

  1. Piles Of Little Arms
  2. D.E.A.D.
  3. Garden Of Disdain
  4. The Righteous Voice
  5. Architect And Iconoclast
  6. Paradigms Warped
  7. The Pillars Crumbling
  8. For No Master
  9. Declaring New Law
  10. From The Hand Of Kings
  11. The Fall Of Idols