Morbid Angel – You Have Been Warned

Saturday, 30th March 2013

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Words never to say to Morbid Angel’s David Vincent: “Death metal” and “traditional.” Dude was not happy to hear Blistering refer to his band in the context of death metal, nor did he take kindly to us calling the non-industrial sounding songs on the band’s new Illud Divinum Insanus as “traditional.” Had we had some kind of prepper before chatting, those words might have been omitted, although Morbid Angel (to these ears) is still very much a death metal band and the songs without electronic drums are pretty traditional in the sense of sounding worthy enough to end up on Covenant and Domination. But once we got saddled into our interview, the singer/bassist proved to be thoughtful and fearless (and pretty nice, actually), all this in the face of unprecedented negative feedback.

Indeed Illud is taking a massive beating from the death metal crowd for its electronic elements, traits that have always hung around the MA sound, but have never been this exploited. Four songs on Illud are catching the brunt of the criticism: “Too Extreme!” “Destructos Vs. the Earth/Attack,” “Radikult” and “Profundis – Mea Culpa,” but the rest of the album is utterly savage and catchy, with all the classic components that make Morbid Angel perhaps the most significant death metal band not named Death. The album is an absolute grower, that’s for sure, but when one sinks their teeth into songs like “Blades For Ball,” “10 More Dead” and “Nevermore,” it’s evident that when on top of their game, few bands touch Morbid Angel.

Fresh off some Euro tour dates, we snagged Vincent to talk about the new album, McDonald’s, and everything else in-between. So enough pontificating out of us, we’ll let Vincent do the rest of the explaining… Since you rejoined in 2004, what’s the working atmosphere like? Is it different than when you left in ’96?

David Vincent: Much like it’s always been. It’s a pleasant thing being surrounded by the talent I’m surrounded by. It’s startling sometimes. When you were away from the band, did you miss playing death metal?

Vincent: [pauses, lets out prolonged sigh] It required a complete departure, but as time went on, I thought about things, but I remained busy. I don’t focus on that. I focus on a myriad of other things that required my attention. Since you had other things going on, were you able to take notice as to what was going on in the death metal scene?

Vincent: The one thing I noticed is that there are a lot more bands now. The sound has narrowed. At one point there were bands when we first started out, but not a lot of contemporaries that we could look to. Nowadays, it sounds very similar to me. Is there any update on (currently sidelined drummer) Pete Sandoval? I know there’s some talk of him playing the drums again, but what’s his status?

Vincent: I’m in pretty close touch with him, although obviously, we have other things going on. He’s not ready yet, though. If I had an “immediate recovery” wand, I’d be waving it, but tragically such things are not there for this kind of thing. It’s a long battle and he’s in for a long haul. I was wondering if Pete had involvement with the early writing of the songs.

Vincent: One of the songs that he was there for was “Nevermore.” It’s one we initially wrote with him and has been around for several years. If you want to extrapolate this, then it was important for Tim [Yeung, drums], prior to going in and recording that song, to watch several live videos of that song and approach it as a player, like Pete would. Every drummer plays things different. You can send five people and tell them “Play this” and they’d all play it correctly, but you’d get five different versions of it. Everyone has their own feel and I think Pete’s drum style, his technique, it has a very strong signature to it. Does it sound different than before? Sure. Getting Tim Yeung was obviously a big win for the band given how talented of a drummer he is. How does hit fit into the Morbid Angel framework?

Vincent: I really enjoy playing with him. I had met him briefly prior to him joining the organization, but I had never played with him. I was familiar with his abilities and I’ve since gotten to know from the touring we’ve done thus far, but he’s a very dedicated drummer. He works hard. I’m pleased that he was available and that he was interested. When hearing the new album, almost instantly one can recognize how good your vocals sound. It sounds like you’re still singing in ’93 or ’95. Were you surprised as to how well they sound after all these years?

Vincent: If anything, I think they’re stronger. With any vocalist, if you allow yourself to get rundown while on tour, you’re asking for a whole host of problems. As long as I’m mindful of that and I get the proper amount of sleep and don’t stay up all night screaming over loud music, I’ll be just fine. Lots of cool moments abound on the new album, especially something like “10 More Dead.” In context of the entire thing, what do you think works best?

Vincent: I let the music move me. From my standpoint, I like it when things are clear from an articulation standpoint. That doesn’t mean I’m not pushing myself to brink of every one of those songs, but the difference is, I have an ear for it. If I listen back to it and it doesn’t sound like, from my standpoint, properly articulated, we’ll re-do it. This is how it is for me – some people aren’t like that at all. That’s my style and I’m sticking to it [laughs]. Take something like “Radikult,” which is certainly a “departure” song for the band. Was it easy to get into it?

Vincent: What are you talking about? The snapping in it? More or less the vocal patterns and the voices you use.

Vincent: It’s making a statement. The whole record goes through the process…I don’t sing out of one tree, I look at the forest. If you listen to it from the very beginning all the way to the end, it starts to make sense. It takes an amount of attention and creativity on the listener as well.

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