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The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019, #1: Morbid Angel, Illud Divinum Insanus

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MetalSucks recently polled nearly 180 prominent metal musicians and industry insiders to determine The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019! (You can read all about the voters and the methodology behind the poll here.) Over the next few weeks, we’ll be counting down the entire list, one entry per day.

The countdown concludes today with Ilud Divinum Insanus, the 2011 release from Morbid Angel!

Update, 1:30 p.m.: Jjjjjjjuuuusssstttt kidding! Sorry. We couldn’t help ourselves! The real #1 is Gojira’s Magma. But please, do enjoy this wonderful piece of satirical writing by the great Jeff Treppel:

It’s exceedingly rare that a band changes the face of music with one album, much less two. How many acts can lay claim to that feat? The Beatles, maybe? Miles Davis? Well, add an extreme metal act to that list: Morbid Angel. Their 1989 debut, Altars of Madness, brought an unprecedented level of technical wizardry to the still-nascent death metal genre. Their 2011 full-length, Ilud Divinum Insanus, launched the well-established genre to the next level with its innovative blend of death metal, industrial, and techno sounds. More than anything else released this decade, it catapulted metal into the future.

The band worked on the album for five years. It shows. Expectations for the new album had been high since the band reunited with original vocalist David Vincent in 2006 after his stint in the Genitorturers. A lot of bands would fold under such extreme pressure. Not Morbid Angel. Vincent and legendary guitarist Trey Azagthoth put their heads together, took a look at both Morbid Angel’s illustrious past and the gothic/industrial music they’d both gotten into, and came up with a brilliant idea: why not combine the two?

The results speak for themselves. It’s hard to deny the visceral impact of songs like “Too Extreme!” and “I Am Morbid.” The drum machines, samples, and nu-metal rhythms presented a bold realization of the genre hybrid. “Destructos VS The Earth / Attack” feels reminiscent of something like “March of the Poozers” from Devin Townsend’s Ziltoid project, only this is better because they dispense with that track’s whimsy and sense of joy. They also make nods towards the past to please more regressive fans. Death metal rippers like “Existo Vulgore” and “Nevermore” ignore the past twenty years’ worth of advances in production techniques to deliver that dry, thin Morrisound sound quality.

As was rightly noted in many of the glowing reviews at the time, however, “Radikult” was the album’s — and possibly Morbid Angel’s — crowning achievement. Vincent and Azagthoth looked at the oeuvre of Marilyn Manson and realized that they could build upon that luminary’s body of work by dragging it out for seven minutes, adding rudimentary guitar licks, and singing about how haters won’t get what they’re trying to do. Vincent’s lyrics throughout the entire album shine: he really captures that sense of feeling middle-aged and out-of-touch, making it a deeply personal record.

It’s truly difficult to encapsulate just what an impact Ilud Divinum Insanus made upon the metal community when it dropped. Many reviewers (our own Sammy O’Hagar included) were flabbergasted by the bold choices that Morbid Angel made in their pursuit of furthering the form. Some didn’t get it. Still, great art can only truly be appreciated with time. And time has shown that Morbid Angel’s eighth album was one for the ages, a truly unforgettable work that was so ahead of its time that nobody has even tried to emulate it since.

The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019:

#25: Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas, Mariner (2016)
#24: Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones (2010)
#23: Pig Destroyer, Book Burner (2012)
#22: Yob, Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)
#21: The Black Dahlia Murder, Ritual (2011)
#20: Mastodon, Once More ‘Round the Sun (2014)
#19: At the Gates, At War with Reality (2012)
#18: Meshuggah, Koloss (2012)
#17: Gorguts, Colored Sands (2012)
#16: Between the Buried and Me, The Parallax II: Future Sequence (2012)
#15: The Ocean, Pelagial (2013)
#14: Kvelertak, Kvelertak (2010)
#13: Judas Priest, Firepower (2018)
#12: Metallica, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (2016)
#11: Converge, 
All We Love We Leave Behind (2012)
#10: The Dillinger Escape Plan, 
One of Us Is the Killer (2013)
#9: Rivers of Nihil, Where Owls Know My Name (2013)
#8: Deafheaven, Sunbather (2013)
#7: Baroness, 
Yellow & Green (2012)
#6: Power Trip, Nightmare Logic (2016)
#5: Ghost, Opus Eponymous (2010)
#4: Deftones, Diamond Eyes (2010)
#3: Behemoth, The Satanist (2014)
#2: Carcass, Surgical Steel (2013)

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