There are few bands in Death Metal who have blazed such a trail as Florida’s Morbid Angel. Residing in the top three bestselling genre acts up until 2003, they differed from their big-selling peers – Cannibal Corpse and Deicide – in that they weren’t afraid to blur the boundaries of their art. While Chris Barnes gurned a catalogue of cartoonish atrocities and Glen Benton expounded a load of tired, consequence free anti-Christian old-hat, Morbid Angel thought outside the box, graduating from topics of Satanism to diverse philosophies and ancient cultures for their inspiration. In fact, founder member Trey Azagthoth – the cat we call the ‘Jimi Hendrix of Death Metal’ – probably isn’t even connected enough to this world to realise that a box exists.
Unfortunately, it’s this very same spirit of musical exploration and hard-headed unwillingness to do what’s expected of them that has ultimately been the band’s worst enemy. Line-up changes, beginning with the departure of frontman and bassist David Vincent in 1996, have always divided the fan base but it wasn’t until 2011 and the long-awaited eighth album that these Metal pioneers truly entered uncharted waters. The repercussions of Illud Divinum Insanus have, in the last month, seen Azagthoth clear out the ranks of his band and reunite with Bassist/Frontman Steve Tucker who had previously replaced Vincent between 1997 and 2004. Now, surveying the smoking ruins, we take this moment to appraise the ‘three ages’ of Morbid Angel and ponder what the future might hold.