Kingdoms Disdained is the harshest, most unmusical album Morbid Angel have ever done. For those inclined towards construing that description as somewhat interesting, Kingdoms Disdained also isn’t very good. Where once Morbid Angel soared with imagination, today they plod and toil over an unremarkable patch of fallow earth; the ill-advised experimentation of the last album is replaced with the groove from F, G, and H, but with not a fraction of the writing and memorability so painfully salvaged from even those works. Faster sections recall the tremolo-picked, linear curves of Covenant, but what would even that album have been without the finely articulated swamps of violence that engulfed those passages?
Whether Morbid Angel have chanced upon an unholy confluence of brown notes is for other minds to discern, but the only impression to be gathered from Kingdoms Disdained is just how unpleasant it is to hear. Where is the seductive, serpentine, liquid grace that one came to reasonably expect from the rhythm guitar on even the most underwhelming of Morbid Angel albums? How can a self-respecting metal head and longtime Morbid Angel fan abide by something as banally obvious as ‘The Pillars Are Crumbling‘? Was the disavowal of the last album a farce so that the band could revisit Destructos Vs Earth: The Sequel (‘Declaring New Law‘) on a gullible audience?
What a fucking chore to sit through. Remember the classic, chorded intro to ‘Day Of Suffering‘? Imagine that being played again and again at a reduced pitch, over an intervallic-space tighter than an asshole; that is the absolute entirety of the rhythm guitar movement on this album. With the higher scalar frequencies all but forsaken, the concept of riff-identity becomes a non-starter; the drums stay triggered as tradition dictates; Azagthoth solos like a wisp of his former self, disembodied, dissociated, and ultimately unconcerned with goings-on around him. Steve Tucker, bless him, rails and rages about the Elder Gods descending and treating their puny underlings with contempt; the tragicomic irony to be found here is that the Elder Gods themselves have not so much as descended but been evicted, fucking ejected wholesale from their erstwhile supernal essences. They dwell among us now and so are henceforth tainted.