Album review: Morbid Angel brings us back with ‘Kingdoms Disdained’

Posted by on November 7, 2017

Let’s cut to the chase here. This IS your father’s Morbid Angel. Forget that 2011 record. I don’t care how long you worshipped at the altars of madness to try and “get” that record; short of a couple of tracks that were actually metal it was a complete fail, but I don’t need to rehash what happened there; it’s just too extreme.

Ok, now we got that out of the way…

Are you a fan of Gateways to Annihilation? How about Formulas Fatal to the Flesh? You are? Good. Because Kingdoms Disdained picks up where those left off. This is wall to wall double bass, classic Trey leadwork and a pissed off Steve Tucker. This is a dirty, angry, uptempo record that’s going to give your head a pounding and then pound it some more. This is going to blow out your subs in your car driving to work and you’re going to imagine yourself head banging to the revitalized Morbid Angel when they come to your town.

The first single, “Piles of Little Arms,” is already out. It’s a great track and acts as a signal of things to come. Let’s get into the rest of the record… “D.E.A.D.”… classic Steve Tucker era opening and classic Tucker era sound. Nasty guitars with riff after riff and there’s going to be a huge smile on your face once you hear the beginning of Azagthoth’s early leads. But that’s not all – at a minute and a half into the song you start to hear some groove and all the instruments come together in a way that’s going to bring you back to the 1990’s. More blast beats follow and quickly you realize that you’re about to embark on a real Morbid Angel record; a record many thought we’d never again hear.

As most of us know, this iteration of Morbid Angel features the return of Steve Tucker on bass (which shines on “Paradigms Warped”) and vocals and original member Trey Azagthoth on guitars. Scotty Fuller (Absymal Dawn) more than aptly handles the drums. If you’re worried about a different drum sound with the absence of Pete Sandoval and/or Tim Yeung, you can stop worrying. Fuller clearly knew what he had to accomplish on this record and he really shines. Love his drums here. Erik Rutan does an incredible job on the recording side. That shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Admittedly, there are definitely some tracks that are better than others. “Garden of Disdain” a bit vanilla and “The Pillars Crumbling” doesn’t really get going until three minutes into the track (though after those three minutes we get a some killer lead guitar work). But I wouldn’t call these low points, they’re songs that are just not quite at the level as some of the other cuts.

Many high points on this record to point out, for example, two and a half minutes into “From the Hand of Kings,” there it is again – Trey’s classic lead sound. Perfectly embedded in the mix. Perfectly integrated into the song. THIS is Morbid Angel. THIS is what we were waiting so long for. The last two minutes of “For No Master” is some classic death metal that brings you back to the hey day of the Western Florida swamps and “Fall of Idols” is sure to be a fan favorite. “Architect and Iconoclast” is going to melt your face off.

Is this new record Covenant or Blessed Are the Sick? No. But there’s never going to be another Covenant and we have to appreciate it for what it is. However, this new record is very refreshing and gives the entire genre that shot in the arm it needs. There are no throw-away tracks, there’s no awkwardness and there’s no experimentation. It’s straight ahead aggressive metal.

Overall, this is a dark record for the dark times we live in. Kingdoms Disdained is about our world and its chronic despair we find ourselves in. Morbid Angel is not about refuge, or the thought of being saved, rather it’s a reflection of the reality here in 2017.

Kingdoms Disdained will be released on December 1st on 

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  • pheet007

    Most of the time we can pretty much agree on clunker albums from bands. Celtic Frost’s “Cold Lake” was the aural equivalent of that idiot boss insisting you do your job his way even though when you do it his way, it’s going to be a total fuck up and you’ll get the blame. From all accounts Thomas Gabriel didn’t want to do a glam album, and it remains legendary for being so unlike CF. But I’m a man of fairness, and even that album had a few decent cuts on it, and the riff to “Petty Obsession” is a good one.
    “Re-Load” and “St. Anger” were very sucky albums for Metallica, although “St. Anger” could have been a decent album if they had allowed Kirk to play, trimmed some of the arrangements, and get a better sound. “Death Magnetic” was a failed attempt at merging the “Black Album” with earlier albums, and it was a failure although sales certainly don’t indicate otherwise. I won’t even consider buying the last one because it got lukewarm reviews, ripped off Crowbar’s “Oddfellows Rest” album cover, and insisted on that totally unbelievable shit about being mad at the world, rebellious, etc. That kind of lyric coming from these super rich guys is an insult.
    But Morbid Angel got unfairly shit on with “Ilud. . .”. It just seemed like critics were determined to destroy it and not give it a fair shake, and that attitude more than anything else convinced fans it was a bad album, and that just is not the case. What is so repulsive about it? The production was some of the best they ever had. Yes, they did have a couple cuts that dared to be a bit more accessible, but it seems that is the only criteria fans used against it. “Radikult” really took some lumps because it had a beat and a straight ahead tempo. So a bit of a nod toward a groove was treated like poison, while Decapitated’s “Anticult” was praised over and over for being groove oriented. Maybe Azagthoth foresaw that death metal in order to survive was going to have to take a few chances, and he was really punished for it even though his playing was as great as always.
    For my money, the worst Morbid Angel album is “Heretic” without any question. It has a muddy production that sounds like the master file was buried in a swamp outside of Tampa for a month before it was released. The songs lacked cohesiveness, at least several did, and it remains the least favorite and listened to MA album I have.
    My personal favorite is “Domination”, although the first three are also great. There is a sinister vibe on “Domination” that they don’t have anywhere else, and as far as lead work is concerned, Azagthoth probably never did better, especially on “Eyes To See, Ears To Hear”, with brilliant orchestral guitar banks and lead work that remind me somewhat of Randy Rhoads’ most thrilling leads.
    I look forward to the new album, and maybe somebody will read this post and make up their own minds about “Ilud . . .” instead of letting somebody else do it for them. I will never agree that this album is a clunker.

  • Növ Aslan

    F* yeah!


    Without Evil Dave it’s just not real Morbid Angel…smh

  • pheet007

    I agree that Vincent is the more charismatic and easier to understand “vocalist” between him and Steve Tucker. And he was the front man through their first four legendary albums.

  • pheet007

    Glad you agree, although we’re all allowed our opinions. In a world where media of all types is all too eager to formulate our views, tastes, politics and religion for us, and people are so willing to act like mindless sheep just to be “hip”, or just like the other sheep in their workplaces, church (nobody is more sheep like and easily manipulated than today’s Christian cult), it is high time we think for ourselves, and decide for ourselves what our preferences are in everything. Just because a music critic doesn’t like a certain album, and seemingly everybody jumps on that bandwagon doesn’t mean that album is bad. It’s up to you and nobody else. I write reviews, but I try to avoid writing negative reviews because I buy my CD’s, and receive no pay, just posting my purchase reviews on amazon. If I don’t like an album, it’s only my opinion, and we should never forget that’s all other views are – opinions. Whether they matter or not is a decision only you can make.


    Agreed…”Blessed are the Sick” is my fav and of course Covenant. I never liked any of MA’s other material w/o Evil Dave it sounded like every other death metal band.

  • pheet007

    That is really what is a problem with death. With everybody grunting, it’s almost impossible to tell who’s whom, but David Vincent and Obituary’s John Tardy manage to have their own style. Tardy sounds like Yosemite Sam on crack.
    I really think death metal bands ought to consider going to clean or cleaner vocals, because our voices are truly individual, and can add so much to the music with their own counter melodies. The grunting and screaming is passe, doesn’t scare anybody, and frankly is the weakest part of a style I otherwise love. Some bands are trying clean vocals here and there – Whitechapel has a few songs on their great last album with some clean singing, and it sounds damn good. Revocation tried it too, and I encourage others to at least experiment with them. It would go a long way toward death metal bands not suffering from the same old blandness they do right now.

  • fuckallofyou

    Almost everyone who has written on this thread needs to stock up on tampons because your periods have synced. Death metal with cleaner vocals. They already have that, it’s called deathcore and it’s for pussies.