At least it is actually death metal.
Morbid Angel might have the most chaotic discography out of any metal band. Their first three albums helped shape the modern genre of death metal, and after that peak the band has struggled to find where exactly it wants itself to be.
Unfortunately, one cannot talk about Morbid Angel anymore without addressing the embarrassing 2011 release Illud Divinum Insanus, which is possibly the worst metal album ever produced from a talented band. Insanus is so off putting that many not only didn’t listen to it, but found themselves having a hard time justifying listening to anything the band has ever produced. I honestly figured the band was finished after such a disaster. A bad release coupled with an ever-expanding time span between works made this new release catch me off guard.
Aside from the Insanus disaster, the general mood toward the band has been slipping for nearly twenty years now. I have been an apologist for Gateways to Annihilation since the album released in 2000. Gateways seemed a meditation on entropy and tone, and functioned as more of an experiment into how a relentless drone can cause an uncertain affect within the listener. I personally found this experiment fruitful, and showed that the band could evolve in interesting ways. Kingdoms works as a sequel to Gateways in some ways, but not always in the best ways.
Kingdoms manages to be both flat and chaotic at the same time, which is odd experience for the listener. The riffs seem to be tossed in at seemingly random intervals while the overall chug of the songs continues. While actively listening to the tracks I found myself enjoying them to a certain degree, but once a song was over there was nothing left to consider. The song structure forces a repetition similar to Gateways, but without the meditative feel of the album.
Part of the problem with this album is the recording quality is imbalanced to say the least. The drums are too triggered—to the point of sounding artificial, and they drown out the guitar unless you screw around with your settings. The speed might be there, but the over-triggered sound makes the drums sound more like a type-writer than anything else.
Another part of the problem is that the songs just aren’t that interesting. Don’t get me wrong, this is a death metal album, but there is a level of “so what” present here. If this album was released by a different band it would not be making much of a splash. Morbid Angel apologists are heralding this as the second coming of death metal, and aside from being hyperbolic the statement is simply not true. Sure, hats off to the band for producing a sequel to a seventeen-year-old album and not fucking it up with painful industrial and hip elements. 4/10