20 Best Metal Albums of 2017

Hardcore trailblazers, longform doom and genre-bending savagery: the year in heavy

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Morbid Angel, 'Kingdoms Disdained'
20
9/20

9. Morbid Angel, 'Kingdoms Disdained'

Morbid Angel torched a quarter century of underground cred with 2011's Illud Divinum Insanus, an album that combined their signature death-metal bravado with dated industrial beats. Kingdoms Disdained plays like bandleader and sole original member Trey Azagthoth's savage mea culpa. In 2015, the guitarist parted ways with classic-era frontman David Vincent – now helming his own Morbid Angel repertory project, I Am Morbid – and joined back up with bassist-vocalist Steve Tucker, who appeared on three of the band's harshest releases in the late Nineties and early Aughts. Tucker and Azagthoth pick up that thread here, conjuring a cyclone of blastbeat-driven fury punctuated with Azagthoth's signature heaving, lunging grooves and Eddie Van Halen–on-a-bad-trip solos. The album largely avoids the moody dynamics and fist-pumping choruses that made Morbid Angel unlikely Headbangers Ball darlings in the early-to-mid-Nineties, but what it lacks in variety it makes up in sheer chaotic intensity. H.S.

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