While it doesn’t come up much here on ID:UD, both of us listen to a not insignificant amount of metal, old (Bruce loves Slayer, Alex worships Dio) and new (Bruce digs Blut Aus Nord, Alex goes nuts for Wolves In The Throne Room). So, we were intrigued by the talk which started percolating last year that undisputed American death metal legends Morbid Angel were not only set to release an album of Cold Lake-magnitude shittiness (Hail Tom Warrior!), but that said record was introducing distinctly industrial elements to Morbid Angel, our ears pricked up. An advance single featuring a Combichrist remix furthered the head-scratching, and when Illud Divinum Insanus was released we found ourselves adding our voices to the beleaguered masses asking who this flat record, which seemed to combine the most monotonous and underdeveloped aspects of both metal and modern industrial, could possibly have been intended for.

Then we heard about the remix album.

The 2CD, 3LP, 39 track remix album.

The cover art is pretty cool at least.

Much like the deluxe vinyl treatment inexplicably given to the universally panned Lulu, we couldn’t believe that Season of Mist was going ahead with Illud Divinum Insanus – The Remixes, but its slate of remixers – including Laibach, cEvin Key, Project Pitchfork, Synapscape, and the like – intrigued us. What could it possibly sound like? Regardless of the answer, we knew we weren’t up to the task of tackling this album by ourselves. We enlisted Justin Hagberg – guitarist and songwriter in Vancouver’s long-standing metal outfit 3 Inches Of Blood, occasional FLA collaborator, and friend of the site – to help us. As someone who’s easily as well-versed and passionate about metal as either of us are about industrial, we wanted to hear what Justin, a life-long Morbid Angel fan (who also knows his way around industrial), would have to say about this unlikely behemoth of a release.

So it was that on a temperate April night, armed with a two-four of Old Style Pilsner we assembled at ID:UD headquarters with Justin and sometime ID:UD design contributor Rheanna Fancypants, and prepared to face down 39 industrial remixes of a record we didn’t like that much. Here is the documentation of what occurred…

Justin roughhouses with Intern Tobey.

“The album kind of sounds like a remix album already. Like Demanufacture a little, but it doesn’t have that death metal sound, the essence of Morbid Angel.”

Laibach – I’m Morbid (We Are Laibach remix)
Justin: “I’m morbid? Almost sounds like a skipping record. I was expecting something more militant from Laibach. Would have been cool if they did something like “Life is Life”, with the horn section. Drums sound more realistic than the album at least.”

cEvin Key & Hiwatt Marshall – OmniDead rEMIx
Justin: “It’s okay. It’s kind of soundtracky. I think it would have been kind of impressive if the album had sounded more like this it would have been better. The (original) album sounds like death mettalers trying to do industrial, and it doesn’t work.”

The Toxic Avenger – 10 More Dead
Justin: “This is definitely that, what do you call this kind of music? Dubstep? Yeah, this is that sound people make when they describe dubstep, the wub wub or whatever.”

Malakwa – I am Morbid
Justin: “Wow, that is super-compressed. It sounds like someone’s just fiddling around at the mixing board. It sounds like the effects you hear from the system when you’re in the club near a woofer. It’s annoying, all you can hear is the levels going up and down.”

Synapscape – Too Extreme
Rheanna: “So far this one is working the best. The vocals aren’t totally incongruous to the music.”

Justin: “I like that they distored his vocals more. When you hear his natural voice you’re reminded that the original album kind of sucked, so when you hear this you’re able to enjoy it more on its own. They made his voice suit the music much more.”

Justin: “I am enjoying this more than the album. It’s disappointing when one of your favourite bands isn’t doing what they’re best at, but trying to sound like other bands who are better at doing what they do.”

HIV+ – Too Extreme
Justin: “Ugh. When I hear the vocals I hear a guy in his 50s wearing a PVC suit. The whole new image is a day late and a dollar short. Old men in a young man’s game, using terms like “Too Extreme” and “Radikult”.”

Micropoint – I am Morbid
Rheanna: “Maybe if I was seventeen I would like this. Does that make sense? If I was drunk I would maybe dance to it…but probably give up halfway through.”

Justin: “This is kinda catchy. It’s pretty goofy, though. It doesn’t do anything for me after a couple minutes.”

Metallyzer aka John Lord Fonda – Too Extreme
Rheanna: “I would listen to this while getting ready to go out. It doesn’t feel like a remix, though, it feels like someone wrote their own track and then added samples. It’s fun while you’re going somewhere with friends or something, and it’s repetitive.”

Justin: “I think this one is the best we’ve heard so far. It’s the most dancey. If I was at the bar I could see my head bobbing to that one. The day I hear a Morbid Angel remix at the bar, though…”

Evil Activities – Radikult
Justin: *shaking his head* “Terrible. I think Radikult’s a turd no one could polish. There’s no hope in remixing a song that shitty. The way the vocals are sung to begin with, it’s got this Toto “Rosanna” swing to it. Y’know, *singing & snapping fingers* “We’ve been around since 1989…”

Rheanna: “That was great! You should write a song like that!”

Justin: “Shoot me first.”

Alex: “It really does feel like remix for hire work. Very few people sound like they have any ideas. There’s no purpose to a lot of these mixes.”

Justin: “It does sound pretty stock. It’s an uninspiring record, so what can you make out of it remix wise? I love Broken, but I love Fixed even more. Those guys were inspired by what they heard and took it to the next level. People are way more passionate when working with something they like.”

Toxic Engine – I am Morbid
Alex: “This is what the guys in Morbid Angel think the original record sounds like.”

Justin: “You nailed it. This is what they were going for and what the record should’ve sounded like, instead of a bunch of old guys who couldn’t wrap their head around it.”

Justin: “All the good remix records I’ve heard have been EPs. Fixed? EP. Fear is the Mindkiller? EP. Maybe 30 plus remixes of one album is overkill. There’s a lack of enthusiasm in the room just listening to this, what it would have been like to have to work on it?”

Nachtmahr – Destructos VS The Earth
Rheanna: “This sounds kind of gothy. Like the vocals. The music does sound modern at least, a lot of these remixes sound dated.”

Justin: “Dave Vincent doing this is disappointing. Knowing he’s in Genitorturers it’s expected. But he’s a pioneer in death metal, and when I hear this I can’t get into it, it just sounds like an old man squeezed into PVC pants. It’s hard to like it as a fan of Morbid Angel.”

Tim Skold – Mea Culpa Profundus
Justin: “This is pretty good. It’s not like something I would normally listen to, but it has a heavy industrial metal sound. I think the vocals have a more classic Morbid Angel feel to them. If you’re going to do a Morbid Angel remix, this is how to do it, with a heavy edge. Less Marilyn Manson, more like what Morbid Angel actually sounds like.”

Black Strobe – 10 More Dead
Justin: “You can actually hear Trey’s guitar on this one, his tone is there. On a lot of these mixes he’s been buried in mud, this mix leaves him alone. That’s the thing about him, he has his own unique way of playing so it’s cool to be able to pick him out. It’s not the best mix, but the focus on the guitar is cool at least.”

Project Pitchfork – Destructos VS The Earth
Bruce: “This is a classic Pitchfork style track.”

Alex: “…With the terrible Morbid Angel lyrics overtop.”

Rheanna: “It’s a shame, because this sounds a lot more like a great old Pitchfork song than anything they’ve done in a while.”

Bruce: “Oh man, this mix is seven and a half minutes long, just like the original. That’s ridiculous.”

Justin: “You might say it’s…”Too Extreme”.”

Scott Brown – I am Morbid
Rheanna: “This sounds like that Funker Vogt remix album. That one where it was just remix after remix and none of them sounded like the originals or super original.”

Bruce: “Another hardcore, gabber style mix. I have no idea who this is for, I can’t imagine anyone who likes that style wanting to listen to it, so who was it aimed at?”

Fixhead – Radikult
Rheanna: “This sounds like it has potential, but I think we might be punch-drunk at this point. I feel like we might get magic powers if we make it through the whole thing.”

Bruce: “Yeah, I think the people in this room may have paid closer attention to this than any other group of people in the world at this point. Who else is still listening after this many mediocre remixes?”

DJ Ruffneck – I am Morbid
Justin: “Morbid Angel got me into Dead Can Dance. When I first saw them they came out to Lisa Gerard. So many of these remixes are so unsubtle, where are the dark ambient remixes, or the folky remixes? Maybe all these artists just tried to make the songs as hard as possible instead. For a band who had so many influences, these all sound like the remixers just picked up one thing and went with it. It’s disappointing to just hear another bangbangbang song after so many others like it. ”

*Five minute break while we watch the bit from The Cremaster Cycle where Dave Lombardo and Steve Tucker covered in a beard of bees represent Johnny Cash making a phone call to Gary Gillmore.*

Tamtrum – I am Morbid
Rheanna: “These guys do that “Fuck You I’m Drunk” song! I like that one.”

Tek-One Remix – 10 More Dead

A picture says a thousand words.

At this point the evening degenerated into repeated giggling about the name “Radikult” and chasing Intern Tobey around the HQ. Final assessment: at 39 tracks and 3 hours, there’s far too little solid material on Illud Divinum Insanus – The Remixes to justify its existence. Even with all the good will in the world (and a not inconsiderable amount of beer) going into it our foursome was unable to make much of the experience. As it stands, Illud Divinum Insanus – The Remixes is an object lesson in the futility of trying to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, and the dangers of unchecked artistic hubris.

Special thanks to Justin and Rheanna for sitting through it with us. 3 Inches of Blood’s savage new album Long Live Heavy Metal is currently available from all major online and physical retailers.