“Kingdoms Disdained”

By El Chief

Sometimes a band just doesn't click with you. Morbid Angel has always been one of those bands for me. But I had high hopes for the album "Kingdoms Disdained," given that it no longer included bassist/vocalist David Vincent. Instead, guitarist Trey Azagthoth brought back bassist/vocalist Steve Tucker, while also adding drummer Scott Fuller (Abysmal Dawn). But, those moves only made the album "Kingdoms Disdained" more of a muddled mess.

Tucker's voice just doesn't work as a focal point for the band. His comically deep growl grows on your nerves quickly. Most death metal singers use their voice as a compliment to the instruments, and there are times when Tucker provides that nice touch (for example, the final stanza of "Garden of Disdain"). His histrionics during the first chorus of "For No Master" almost makes you want to hit the skip button. When he subdues the vocal slide the second time around, the song is finally allowed to stand on its own. Tucker's Cookie Monster is just too powerful. Producer Erik Rutan should've muzzled it from the start.
The same can be said for Fuller's penchant for the blast beat. They rip out of nowhere in every track of "Kingdoms Disdained." The snare covers up Azagthoth's and Dan Vadim Von's fret work so often that Morbid Angel feels more like a Tucker/Fuller project instead of a quartet. The addition of Fuller was an odd choice, given that he seemed to struggle even with Abysmal Dawn's traditional approach to death metal. However, he handles every wild tempo change thrown at him in "Kingdoms Disdained" like a champ. Fuller's work on "Paradigms Warped" would make even Andew Neiman (Miles Teller) weep in the 2014 movie "Whiplash."