A fan­base-split­ting al­bum. The de­par­ture of a much-loved front­man. Af­ter a rocky few years, death metal leg­ends Mor­bid An­gel are freshly re­fined and back do­ing what they do best

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: DOM LAW­SON

David Vincent’s out. Steve Tucker’s in. Seven years on from the in­dus­trial-tinged Il­lud Div­inum In­sanus, the death metal pi­o­neers ex­plain why they’re re­turn­ing to bru­tal­ity.

"When you’re con­stantly try­ing to do things that are orig­i­nal and new, the cre­ative process is dif­fer­ent,” says Steve Tucker. “Orig­i­nal­ity takes time.”

It’s been six years since the last Mor­bid An­gel al­bum. Re­cently re­in­stalled as front­man with the band he led for three al­bums be­tween 1997 and 2004, vo­cal­ist/ bassist Steve is well aware of the ex­pec­ta­tions sur­round­ing the band’s lat­est cre­ation, King­doms Dis­dained. One of the most sem­i­nal and leg­endary death metal bands, Mor­bid An­gel ce­mented their rep­u­ta­tion early on with clas­sic

de­but Al­tars Of Mad­ness in 1989 and main­tained an al­most myth­i­cal al­lure for two decades… un­til they re­leased Il­lud Div­inum In­sanus in

2011. The first Mor­bid An­gel al­bum in 16 years to fea­ture orig­i­nal vo­cal­ist David Vincent along­side om­nipresent gui­tarist and cre­ative chief Trey Aza­gthoth, its chaotic but glee­fully sub­ver­sive mix­ture of bru­tal metal, in­dus­trial techno and – most con­tro­ver­sially – a Rob Zom­bie-style glam­stom­per called Radikult, hor­ri­fied many diehard fans. As a con­se­quence, King­doms Dis­dained’s flat-out, un­com­pro­mis­ing death metal as­sault will surely be hailed as a re­turn to the real Mor­bid An­gel sound. But Steve is hav­ing none of it.

“A lot of peo­ple would like to hear that there was a lot of drama around that whole thing, but we didn’t talk about that al­bum at all,” Steve shrugs. “When Trey called me, I knew ex­actly what he wanted the next Mor­bid An­gel al­bum to be like. If he’d wanted it to be any­thing like Il­lud…, I don’t think he would’ve called me! I think the chem­istry be­tween Trey and I is dif­fer­ent from the chem­istry be­tween David and Trey. The out­come of Trey and I is al­ways go­ing to be heav­ier and darker. That’s what I’m look­ing for in the mu­sic, and what I want from the mu­sic hasn’t changed since I was a teenager. I just want it to be kick­ass.”

Times have changed since Steve first trod the boards with Mor­bid An­gel. These days, ev­ery­thing bands re­lease into the on­line wild is in­evitably pored over and picked apart. King­doms Dis­dained will doubt­less be sub­jected to that same scrutiny, but Steve has ev­ery con­fi­dence that the re­sponse will be pos­i­tive, even if it takes a lit­tle while.

“Ev­ery al­bum I’ve been a part of with this band, it comes out and peo­ple are like, ‘What the fuck? What did you guys do?’ What I say is, ‘Well, what I think we did was make a badass al­bum!’ Ha ha! Even­tu­ally time passes and peo­ple get back to me, say­ing, ‘Man, it re­ally grew on me!’ It’s just a part of Mor­bid An­gel. Peo­ple ex­pect some­thing spe­cial and I think we’ve got that here.”

Given how thun­der­ous and grandiose the new al­bum sounds, there is ob­vi­ously no paucity of con­fi­dence in the band’s ranks at this point. Re­unions come with few guar­an­tees of suc­cess, and Steve’s orig­i­nal ten­ure in the band was never as warmly em­braced by the fans as the so-called ‘clas­sic’, Vincent-led line-up of the first four al­bums, but this time around the chem­istry be­tween Steve and Trey is au­di­bly off the scale.

“It all hap­pened real easy, just fell into place!” Steve beams. “There wasn’t a lot of ef­fort. It was the same old feel­ing, like when you see a friend you haven’t seen in years and it’s like no time’s passed. There was never a prob­lem be­tween us, so it was just re­ally good to be around Trey, to hear the kind of things he was com­ing up with. We’re older, but we’re the same peo­ple in terms of what we want to do mu­si­cally, and it still works.”

Part of the band’s unique ap­peal has al­ways been the un­der­ly­ing sense of weird­ness that Trey brings to his riffs, so­los and song struc­tures. No­to­ri­ously ec­cen­tric, he’s man­aged to es­tab­lish a style that vir­tu­ally no one has ever repli­cated con­vinc­ingly, and it’s ob­vi­ous that Steve re­mains a fan of his mu­si­cal com­rade and his abil­ity to twist death metal into bizarre new shapes.


“When I first heard the song

Paradigms Warped, I thought it was crazy! It had this off-the-wall ar­range­ment, the riffs were off-the-wall, and the way they’re bounc­ing off each other was mess­ing with my mind. But even­tu­ally, that thing that weirded me out? I em­braced it, and now it’s the rea­son I love the song.

Trey is al­ways orig­i­nal and I love that.”

As keen as he is to praise his band­mate, Steve’s own con­tri­bu­tion to the new al­bum is equally wor­thy of ac­claim. King­doms Dis­dained paints a bleak but vivid pic­ture of a planet in dis­ar­ray, the front­man’s lyrics and in­fer­nal bel­low ham­mer­ing the point home with po­etic bru­tal­ity. While not di­rectly po­lit­i­cal, the songs seem to tap into the world’s cur­rent un­ease.

“Yeah, it pretty much sums up the world right now,” says Steve. “We live in this com­bat­ive time. Any hope of ra­tio­nal di­a­logue is out of the win­dow as soon as some­one dis­agrees with some­one else, and I just felt this neg­a­tive air around me all the time when I was writ­ing. We’re all still ruled by kings, peo­ple that have this great, dark plan, and we’re a part of it, like it or not. When you know that deep down, you be­come very un­set­tled, you don’t know what to be­lieve, and that leads to a record like this. But it’s not doom and gloom. It’s just re­al­ity.”

Whether they choose to ad­mit it or not, Mor­bid An­gel have re­turned to sal­vage their rep­u­ta­tion and to re­mind ev­ery­one who the real daddies of this death metal thing re­ally are. The six-year wait was more than worth it: like Steve says, orig­i­nal­ity takes time, and there is still noth­ing else quite like Mor­bid An­gel.

“In this band, we don’t sit and talk about the Kar­dashi­ans,” he con­cludes.

“We talk about ideas and con­cepts and the­o­ries. This has al­ways been a search for knowl­edge. It’s al­ways a deep con­ver­sa­tion. That’s why the mu­sic ends up be­ing so deep and so per­sonal to us. It’s not easy to pin down be­cause it’s al­ways evolv­ing. This thing we call Mor­bid An­gel, it’s vast.”


out riffs that Dan Vadim Von dishes on end make your hair stand

Steve and Trey are revving up with the new al­bum things Steve Tucker: re­turn­ing An­gel

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