No secret to anyone familiar with Decibel, its fearless editor-in-chief Albert Mudrian, or the magazine's highly-trained metal taskforce that "seminal" (their words not ours) Florida outfit Morbid Angel are crucial the existence of proficiently extreme, Lovecraft-informed death metal. Countless—as a quick test of our quantitative use of “countless”, ask your fav band if Morbid Angel are/were an influence—have been inspired by Trey, David, and Pete (also Richard and Mike, if you look back far enough) and some have even appropriated Morbid Angel outright. Yeah, it’s all well and good in the land of infinite Ninnghizhiddas. But the topic today isn’t how amazing Morbid Angel once were (we inducted Altars of Madness in dB #018 and made them cover stars in dB #5), but rather the announcement of new album Illud Divinum Insanus and the cover arts (single and album) that accompany it.
We all know Morbid Angel’s albums started with the letter ‘A’ (Altars of Madness; Abominations of Desolation also starts with ‘A’) and have continued to, well, ‘I’, which is the Illud Divinum Insanus effort. I gather the letter ‘I’ is a tough letter to turn into something devilish or dark. I, The Destoyer. I, Unseen, I. Indoctrinate. Infernal Macrocosmic Portals. I don’t know. Anything but Illud Divinum Insanus.
One, it’s Latin. Latin worked well for My Dying Bride 20 years ago. Two, no doubt smart-asses the world over have already picked out the word ‘anus’ in ‘Insanus’ and will correlate ‘anus’ to how much the album disappoints. Prophetic Youtube comment by user CorpsegrindersSackJuice: “Man, Insanus sucks Trey’s anus! I wish they’d go back to write songs like ‘At One with Nothing Lava II’. Now, they fucking posers!” And three, well, there is no three. As for the cover art, I personally think it’s a step in the right direction. Covenant was the last non-laughable cover (sorry Seagrave!).
Single “Nevermore”, designed by French artists Valnoir and Fursy Teyssier (yes, he of Alcest and Les Discrets fame):
The central image (the morbid groaners and pyramid) is strong and emotive. The right and left sides impart a Near Eastern (Egypt, Mesopotamia, Levant, etc.) atmosphere. Nice! In fact, I’ll say this is the first time since Blessed Are the Sick that Morbid Angel have gotten the art right. OK, Covenant was a tolerable still life. After that, no clue what the boys in black were thinking. Well, “Nevermore” looks like it came roaring out of the Watain artisan camp, but will separate the two by the fact that this piece is far more polished and Ralph Bakshi-like.
Album Illud Divinum Insanus, designed by Brazilian artist Gustavo Sazes:
First thoughts. Behemoth. Major Graal vibe here. Probably not a bad thing since Behemoth has, for all intents and purposes, usurped Morbid Angel’s throne. Consider it counter-appropriation on part of Trey and company. Hey, it’s art. What I see and what you see may be two different things coming from very different wells. As for the main image, I had two look twice to see what it was. A building? Nope, those are church spires in the background. Ah, it’s an eyeless mage (perhaps the hole in the forehead represents the Third Eye, so therefore no need to witness the physical world) in a come-hither pose. Again, looking at it, the first thing that pops in the mind is the Playing Card characters from Alice in Wonderland. Not a bad (morbid) angle. As for the album title—which is oddly as big as the grand wizzie—, it’s near-impossible to read. Yeah, OK, is this some kind of Dan Brown book cover? The next next part to Angels & Demons? Possibly.
I don’t think Illud Divinum Insanus is terrible by any stretch of the imagination. If the Hall of Famers had went exclusively with the “Nevermore” cover art they’d communicate a much stronger and far darker message. Hey, at least there are no embossed fonts or color combinations for color theorists projectile vomit upon. It’s a start.
What do you think?