Remixing metal: What’s the worst that could happen?

Maybe it’s the straight-to-video action movie genre or the rising popularity of MMA that’s to blame, seeing that both seem to love setting action to metal guitars and electronic beats, but despite metal remix albums almost always sucking they’re not disappearing any time soon.
On February 24th, Morbid Angel will release Illud Divinum Insanus—the Remixes, a double-disc compilation of their most controversial album, the album which put the camp ‘90s industrial goose-step a la Marilyn Manson and weird, bangin’ techno to the Tampa quartet’s formidable dual specialties of riff and blast, and y’know, the typical fare of that once-radical genre death metal. Of course, Morbid Angel have form with the remix album; in ‘94 they released a four-track EP with set standards “Sworn to the Black” and “God of Emptiness” reimagined by seminal Slovenian industrialists Laibach. And hey, that turned out all right.

Morbid Angel “God of Emptiness” — Laibach mix

The merits of Illud… are irrelevant when it comes to the remix. Ha! Yes, you could ask yourself how can it be any worse? But whether or not you dig Illud… or not, 31 dudes have had their hands on the soundfiles and have done their worst. Some of the names will be familiar—Treponem Pal resonate somewhere, though possibly in the narrative of a long-held nightmare—but others may need some introduction. Morbid Angel’s attitude to the whole project is refreshing, in that they just handed over the tracks and let whoever was doing what do whatever. Umm, and though hardcore techno DJ/Producer chump Scott Brown having his hands on a Morbid Angel track better it’s “I Am Morbid” than “Chapel of Ghouls”, right?

“Well it’s interesting, Trey and I chose a group of artists that we would like to see involved,” says Morbid Angel frontman/bassist David Vincent. “ But not all of these were able to do it because everybody’s got time constraints and whatever. The label chose some…. It was actually a very Bohemian effort; we made the tracks available, said ‘Do what you want to do’. We didn’t micro-manage in any way. I haven’t heard all of them yet; I’ve heard a number of them. I’ve heard some stuff that I thought was very interesting. I heard some stuff that would even surprise me a little bit, but again: it’s just art. At least with the folks that we chose—micro-managing, let’s say if you’re working for a video game company, and say, ‘I want something that sounds like this for this fight scene.’ So you’re writing specifically for that fight scene, specifically for something. Or even if you are writing a jingle for a commercial, then something like that has got to be targeted. But generally speaking, with paintings and music, new culinary experiences, I love it when things are unexpected, and I just allow it to be what it wants to be because it adds more spice to life for sure.”

Morbid Angel Illud Divinum Insanus — the remixes

If that trailer/teaser worries or excites you unduly, consider the critically acclaimed but frankly fucking awful Fear Factory Demanufacture remix album. 1997 was a year when Burton and Dino would be talking incessantly about the merits of electronic music, techno and so forth, to any magazine that’d listen, yet at the same time went on and commissioned some of the blandest, most gauche nonsense to effectively vandalize the coolest album they ever made. This came at a time when the Prodigy were championed as bastions of this rock/metal/techno crossover, and relevant, required listening for metal fands when really they just made awful music for idiots who liked to vamp up shitty production model Fords, tint the windows and drive right to the edge of the speed limit in suburban towns—that’s what happened in the UK, at least.

Fear Factory “Remanufacture” — Rhys Fulber mix, from Remanufacture

Melvins’ Chicken Switch was at least an interesting concept, turning over the whole album to producers to remix. But the results were questionable, well, kinda dreadful albeit abstractly inoffensive.
Melvins “Linkshänder” — Matmos mix from Chicken Switch

Out of all of these the Morbid Angel/Laibach project was the most worthy, and maybe Illud… will scrub up OK? Hey, can’t be any worse than this:

Or this:

Sorry: cheap shots, but really does anyone care for remixes? And how come they never sound like Ministry’s Psalm:69?