READER TODD ELLIOT REVIEWS MORBID ANGEL’S ILLUD DIVINUM INSANUS – THE REMIXES
Last week, Axl mentioned that he had tried to listen to Morbid Angel’s new Illud Divinum Insanus re-mix collection for the purposes of reviewing it, but couldn’t make it through the compilation’s three-hour-plus running time. Subsequently, reader Todd Elliot volunteered via Twitter to review it for us, and since we sure as fuck weren’t gonna do it, we figured, “Sure, why not?” If Robb Flynn can let some kid in the crowd with a sign hop up on stage with Machine Head, we can certainly do something far less amazing and let someone do our jobs for us. Please enjoy Todd’s review below. Also, be sure to check out his musical project, Toaster, as a way of thanking him for suffering through this thing.
I volunteered for this. I made an offhand comment on twitter about how since Morbid Angel “let just anyone remix on it, metalsucks should just pick the first random schmoe who steps up to review it, that’s all.” I honestly didn’t think they’d call me on my bullshit, but they did, and so here I am.
Three hours and six minutes. Seriously. Three hours and six minutes. That’s how much time Morbid Angel are expecting you to devote to their album of remixes from a near-universally hated record which, as far as I know, no one bought. (If you did buy it, don’t tell me. I don’t want to think any less of you.) I hit “play” on this fucker (and turned off scrobbling, as this is embarrassing enough), with the intent of getting drunk and reviewing it track by track. However, I was overcome by boredom around Beer #3, and instead of writing, I went out for Chinese food. So I listened to this with a mild hangover, and, while it might have been fun to mock every track individually, there are thirty-nine of these things, and doing so would make this article every bit as bloated as the thing it reviews.
Arguably the two most famous remixers lead this off : Laibach, everyone’s favorite gimmick, kick things into low gear with a harpsichord and flute version of “I’m Morbid.” There are power tools, and then a lot of stereo panning. This is the laziest, shittiest thing I have heard in a long time, and even at a brief minute-thirty it feels like it’s been going on for twenty minutes. While the track was playing, my cat wandered into the room, farted, then left. I welcomed the distraction.
cEvin Key of Skinny Puppy fame lends his name to the “Omnidead eEMix,” which is also lazy and shitty, but doesn’t have the stereo panning to drive me nuts, so it’s a welcome change. He succeeds at one point at making the record sound like Rammstein, which I guess passes for innovative.
Thirty minutes into this pig (only two and a half hours to go!) and you’ll scratch your head wondering who it’s for. Most of it is frighteningly generic rivethead. I’m sure Brain Leisure, Synapsecape, and Punish Yourself VS Sonic Area would have killed it at any club’s “industrial night” in the late 80s. Toxic Avenger contribute a brostep track, complete with wub subs that sound outdated the second they leave your speakers. A whole lot of these remixers make the odd choice to keep the majority of the vocals in; some people cut them up and manipulate them, which highlights how profoundly dumb they are. The “Morbid! Morbid! Morbid!” chant becomes somehow even more irritating than it was in the context of the original song. Almost all the remixers who tackle “Too Extreme!” are overly fond of the phrase “we are your new religion,” and use it excessively.
For any track that made me think “Ok, I don’t like it, but it’s put together well enough,” there are three that are just absolutely terrible. The charmingly named HIV+ seemingly turned on a drum machine, put ‘Too Extreme!” on a poorly functioning turntable, then recorded the resulting mess onto a micro cassette. Black Lung liked this idea, so they stole it, and then recorded out of place synths over the top. Metallyzer, a.k.a. John Lord Fonda (hey, that’s how he’s credited), turns in a generic sounding rave track, with saw synths and some four on the floor beats, which seem a little too slow to dance to, and a little too dull to listen to. Evil Activities try their hand at gabber, but it takes entirely too long to get going — unless you get wood when you hear pitch bends. In some cases, it doesn’t sound like the remixers used stems; they just isolated parts of the song verbatim. There’s very little skill on display.
Disc 2 tries switching the focus a little from generic rivethead bullshit to generic electro bullshit. It also attempts to try your patience by offering three versions of “I am Morbid” in a row. To be fair, there are thirteen mixes of “I am Morbid” offered up (that’s two more versions of a single song than there are tracks on the album proper), so it was probably hard to spread them out.
At one point, out of sheer boredom, I played Treponem Pal’s remix of “10 More Dead” simultaneously with the original track, and it improved both the remix and the original immensely. It’s worth noting that this is one of one of a very attempts at remixing one of Illud Divinium Insanus‘ “metal” numbers. The album as a whole is like watching a cut of Star Wars with only the scenes featuring Jar-Jar Binks.
Finally, there’s disc 3, which isn’t an actual disc, but a downlaodable set of songs available with purchase of the first pressing of this turd, and to unlucky people given a promo copy to review. This is notable for having Combichrist’s “Destructos vs the Earth” which initially sounded so similar to the original, that I actually stopped the song and listened to the original to see what the difference was. The thing is, there were a lot of differences — it’s just that this is a remix by a band that Morbid Angel were aping on Illud; it’s a xerox of a xerox. There’s no innovation on display here because there’s no innovation in the source material, Morbid Angel produced an album of consisting largely of terrible X Marks the Pedwalk ripoffs, and sent them along to similarly minded artists to remix. The level best tracks on here are probably the dubstep ones: while they’re crappy generic, they at least sound like they were made by someone who’s listened to something made in the past ten years.
Ultimately, that’s why this is such a terrible effort. A set of remixes might have breathed new life into a confusing mess of a record by updating some of the sounds offered. But while the majority of these remixes are different, they often just sound like alternate takes, rather than reworked versions. Illud Divinum Insanus was terrible, and this manages to top it by being terrible AND inessential. There’s zero redeeming quality to this.