Almost eight years have passed since MORBID ANGEL’s last full length album “Heretic” got released and the band went through a lot of changes ever since. They found a new record label in Season Of Mist and recruited MYRKSKOG / ZYKLON guitarist Thor Anders Myhren, better known as Destructhor, who came on board for Erik Rutan in 2008. Then there was of course the return of original vocalist / bassist David Vincent and most recently the problems with drummer Pete Sandoval, who had to take some time off due to a back surgery. MORBID ANGEL decided to record their ninth studio album without him and hired the also very skilled Tim Yeung, who has a lot of experience already because of his work with bands like AURORA BOREALIS, DECREPIT BIRTH, VITAL REMAINS etc. In early June of 2011 the new album “Illud Divinum Insanus” finally saw the light of day and has caused quite a lot of discussions among fans of the band around the world, due to its partly rather unusual musical experiments. You’ll get a couple of opinions on the album in our big review special somewhere else on these pages… Needless to say that we additionally had to get some first hand information from Mr. Vincent himself… So, read on and find out more about current happenings in the MORBID ANGEL camp and their most polarizing album to date, the controversial “Illud Divinum Insanus”!
The new MORBID ANGEL album “Illud Divinum Insanus” is probably the most diverse record in the entire history of the band and already causes a lot of discussions among Death Metal fans around the world… Did you expect such a controversial feedback already when you wrote the material?
“To be completely honest I was so immersed in the creativity, I wasn’t even thinking about it. I love the record as I love all the records.”
How much influence did you personally have on all the new elements in the music? Would “Illud Divinum Insanus” maybe even have become a slightly different record, if MORBID ANGEL would have continued without you?
“That’s a tough question to answer. I really feel it was a collaborative effort as they all have been. There is a lot of personality in this band and in my opinion all of our individual input is recognizable.”
I was very suprised when it comes to the drum tracks on the record… Honestly spoken, I expected a different drummer to change the typical style of the band quite a bit, especially since Pete is such a great player. But you hardly recognize that it’s Tim and not Pete, who’s playing… So, have the drum parts already been written before Tim came on board maybe?
“Tim is an excellent drummer and I would suggest that there is quite a stylistic difference between he and Pete. I feel it as a player, but honestly this is to be expected when I’m this close to it. We have a style that the drums work within and Tim worked within that format.”
‘Too Extreme!’, ‘Destructos Vs. The Earth / Attack’ and ‘Radikult’ are probably the most unusual MORBID ANGEL songs on the new album, if not in the entire history of the band as you’ve been toying around with a bunch of pretty untypical influences here… Would you mind telling us a bit more about the origin of this material in particular?
“I would ask you what is typical for MORBID ANGEL? I feel we have pushed the boundaries of extreme music since the demo days and this is simply a continuum of the path. To be more specific, Trey has become quite a fan of the harder electronic styles of music and he brought in some material that amalgamated some of the elements of those style in some of the songs you mention.”
The ‘Nevermore’ single even featured a ‘Destructos Vs. The Earth’ remix by COMBICHRIST, which narrow-minded Death Metal fans most certainly will completely hate… Please tell us a bit more about this unusual co-operation in general and COMBICHRIST in particular!
“This is something we wanted to do to show our work in a different perspective. As you will remember we did some collaborations with the great Slovenian group LAIBACH in 1993 with the “Covenant” album. I would not be so quick to predict what people may like or dislike but whatever the case may be I enjoy artistic collaboration and am very pleased with the result of this collaboration with our friend Andy LaPlegua / COMBICHRIST.”
“Illud Divinum Insanus” also features a song that is extremely catchy and most certainly will end up becoming a new MORBID ANGEL hymn at live shows: ‘I Am Morbid’! Was that song already written with the interaction between the band and the fans in mind? Did you record the “Morbid, Morbid” chants at one of your live shows or was that re-created in the studio based on such crowd reactions?
“That song actually started with the crowd chant that was recorded at one of our live shows in 2008. Our fans helped write that song, I simply added guitars and lyrics!”
Most people that I’m in touch with at the moment heavily seem to dislike the new album… And honestly spoken, based on all the comments, I expected to be disappointed as well, since I’m pretty narrowminded when it comes to Death Metal music… But for some strange reason I wasn’t… To me this album was the only logical next step in MORBID ANGEL’s career, since the style that you’ve invented has been copied by thousands of bands already and as a result a new MORBID ANGEL album in the wellknown style would probably be pretty boring… MORBID ANGEL were always a step ahead of many other bands of the genre, so NAPALM DEATH’s album title “Leaders Not Follwers” immediately came to my mind… Would you agree here?
“I have always forged my own path in everything that I do artistically. I don’t look to my contemporaries to find a sound and I never have. I feel that everything we have done has come about organically. There is no competition in music or any other art. There is only expression and to this end I give everything!”
‘Destructos Vs. The Earth’ has a typical march rhythm and you also included that topic in the lyrics of the song (“We’re marching… Destructos marches on…”), so what came first here, music or lyrics?
“In this instance the music came first and I felt the SciFi march the first time I heard Trey’s original demo of the song.”
A lot of people are wondering, what you’re actually singing at the beginning of ‘Radikult’? Is it really “Kill a cop”???
“Hahahahaha…. anyone who bothered to read the lyrics would know that I am not saying this and anyone who is at all familiar with anything that I have ever done would know that I would never make such a reference… EVER!”
So what is it then, that you’re singing there? It’s obviously not included in the lyric sheet…
Have Tim and Destructhor been involved in the songwriting for “Illud Divinum Insanus” in any way?
“Yes, Destructhor wrote all of the music for ‘Blades For Baal’ and ’10 More Dead’ in addition to several very tasteful solos. Tim did not write any music per se but it’s clear to me that his playing style and approach to the songs is quite evident.”
“Illud Divinum Insanus” is the first MORBID ANGEL album that wasn’t released through Earache Records… I know that it’s probably too early to ask this question, but has Season Of Mist already lived up to your expectations in a label thus far?
“As you point out the relationship is in its infancy, but I have every reason to believe that it will be all good. They are hard workers, have lots of integrity and artistic vision.”
Season Of Mist didn’t send out any promo copies of the album prior to the official release date, but invited press people to a listening session instead… Who came up with this idea and did it really help that the album didn’t end up on the internet before it officially got released?
“That was the label’s decision and I stand by that decision.”
Did you find out if any illegal copies made it into the world wide web somehow anyway?
“I’m sure they did. This is sadly part of a new belief that somehow it is ok to steal music, movies and other intellectual property on the internet.”
If I got it right, the songs ‘Too Extreme’, ‘I Am Morbid’ and ‘Radikult’ are all more or less dealing with your uncompromising attitude as a band on one hand and the strong connection to your fans on the other… So, would you say that they are lyrically connected somehow?
“Frank, this could be one way to look at it, but as you know my lyrics can and do mean many different things on many different levels. I leave it to the listener to decide.”
Any particular reason why you wrote certain parts of the new lyrics in Spanish (‘Too Extreme’, ‘Existo Vulgoré’) or Latin (‘Profundis – Mea Culpa’)?
“Sometimes language can be a boundary. All boundaries must be torn down in true extreme art!”
Do you speak both languages?
“Not as much as I would like to but I’m trying…”
“Illud Divinum Insanus” was recorded at four different studios (Mana Recording Studios, D.O.W. Studios, Blue Room Studios and Red Room Studios), with four different engineers (Erik Rutan, Juan “Punchy” Gonzalez, Sean Beavan and Mark Prater)… What exactly made you choose especially those four studios and have you been equally satisfied with the results there?
“As I’m sure you know we have history with each of these people we worked with. They each have talents and proper recording environments and I was pleased with the creations at each of the locations. Honestly as long as there is the quality equipment and skilled technicians it really doesn’t matter where a recording is made. We bring our magic with us wherever we go. No need to rely on a location…”
When it comes to the songwriting, there’s two sides to the new album: on one hand there’s the typical old school MORBID ANGEL style with songs like ‘Existo Vulgoré’, ‘Nevermore’, ‘Blades For Baal’ and on the other hand there’s the more modern sounding stuff like ‘Too Extreme’, ‘Radikult’ or ‘Destructos Vs. The Earth’… Do both styles reflect a certain writing period or have they all been written around the same time?
“All of the tracks were written at around the same few year period. ‘Nevermore’ was the first one that came together in 2008 and as you know we’ve been playing that track live since then.”
MORBID ANGEL had to cancel a couple of shows in Japan recently, due to the current happenings within the country, which is totally understandable… Does it make you thoughtful that more and more natural disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes, vulcano activities etc. are doing lots of destruction on this planet recently? Do you think that there could be some truth in the prophecies of the Mayans, that the earth will face its Doomsday on December 21, 2012…
“Everything is a process. I find it humorous that humanity finds itself so pompous as to think we are in control of this planet. When Earth (or the Destructos) decides that they are truly sick of humans we will be destroyed…”
In ’10 More Dead’ there’s the lines “No understanding and no ability to see the signs, they just keep breeding out of order and adding to the lines more and more…” – is that a song about the growing overpopulation of the earth and how mankind slowly but surely destroys itself?
“Again Frank, I never put something so definitive in print. That is one take for sure… on the social commentary… There are many many mouths to feed and many souls to be harvested by the Grim Reaper.”
Before you rejoined MORBID ANGEL, you’ve been touring with THE GENITORTURERS alot… Is there a difference between the fans / crowds at those shows compared to MORBID ANGEL shows?
“I notice that there were many more girls in the audience, hahaha…”
So, I suppose you enjoyed playing with the GENITORTURERS a lot more than being the frontman in MORBID ANGEL, huh? Hahahaha…
“I enjoy music. I love playing creating music both in the studio and live. These bands are so different there is virtually no comparison.”
MORBID ANGEL has been around for quite some time already and you’ve influenced a shitload of younger bands over the years, which even resulted in two tribute albums… What kind of feeling is it, to be appreciated in such a massive way?
“In some ways it is humbling. When someone expresses their love and devotion to my music it really puts punctuation on the sentences of life. Trust me I know the feeling because I am also a fan and I have expressed these same feelings to the musicians who have influenced me over the years. It is nothing less than an honor to be able to pass that same gift on to others!”
Do you still follow the Death Metal scene these days? Do you still listen to any new bands or have you stopped listening to Death Metal yourself and get inspired by other musical genres instead maybe? Any current musical faves?
“I do listen to extreme music as well as other styles and yes I have my favorites. I don’t like to refer to a “scene” so much though. It is individual artists of all musical walks who inspire and entertain me rather than some particular scene. I have always felt this way.”
“Illud Divinum Insanus” is the first MORBID ANGEL album with you back on bass and vocals and especially your vocal delivery sounds extremely motivated to me… So, I was wondering if it was a bigger challenge for you this time to come up with an even better performance, a “back with a vengeance” sort of return so to speak?
“I went in the studio and let it rip. That simple. No extra motivation per se but inspired? You Bet!!”
Have you shot a video again for one of the new songs? If so, which song did you decide on and what kind of details can you already reveal about it here?
“We have not yet shot the videos for this record but we absolutely have plans to do so.”
By the way, where do you all live these days? Is MORBID ANGEL still located in Florida or have you all moved to different places? Do you still rehearse collectively in the good old-fashioned way in a rehearsal room or does each one of you write music on his own and you send the stuff back and forth to work on it?
“Trey and I both live in the Tampa, Florida area as does Pete. Destructhor lives in Norway and Tim lives in Los Angeles. Our rehearsal studio is in Tampa and we also rehearse in a hire studio near you in Hannover, Germany.”
If only two of you live in Tampa, does that mean only Trey and yourself really rehearse together in the rehearsal room there? And how come you also have a rehearsal studio in Hannover?
“The others fly in a few weeks before touring so we all rehearse together. We have our European backline stored with a company in Hannover and use a rehearsal studio there as well.”
When it comes to the upcoming MORBID ANGEL live shows in support of the new album, I noticed that in Germany you only will play at the Wacken and Party.San Festivals so far… So, is there a headlining club tour coming up as well at a later period of time?
“As you know the summer time in Europe is festival season so that is what we are currently focusing on. There are future plans being discussed but nothing absolute as of yet. You can always get the very latest information on Morbidangel.com or our facebook/myspace pages.”
Have you already decided on a definite setlist for those shows? How many of the new songs will be included?
“We are including some new material as well as classic tracks. You know with each record it gets more difficult to put a setlist together especially with varying set times required for each festival. When we do a normal tour is when our set can be as long as we want and I tell you we want to play as long as possible!!!”
Which songs off the new record will make it into the upcoming live shows?
“So far we have played ‘Nevermore’, ‘Existo Vulgoré’ and ‘I Am Morbid’. They are being received well and we are discussing other additions.”
You mentioned a new TERRORIZER record that you will be recording together with Pete… Who else is in the line-up and have you finished writing any material for it already? When is that supposed to be recorded / released?
“Pete recorded the drum tracks prior to his surgery. I will speak more about TERRORIZER at a later date.”
Ok David, that’s about it. I really appreciate that you agreed on doing this interview. All the best for the new album and upcoming shows. If you’d like to add something, you’re more than welcome to do so now… Cheers!
“Thanks goes to you Frank! I appreciate your support for so many years now and I look forward to seeing you and all German extreme music fans very soon!!”
Interview: Frank Stöver
All live pics: © Ignacio Cángelo, www.ignaciocangelo.com