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Global Domination | Class 6(66) | Morbid Angel: Altars of madness

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Class 6(66)

Morbid Angel: Altars of madness

20/08/07  ||  Lord K Philipson

Released: 1989

Introduction

It’s a fucken weird thing that this album is added to this section after both “Blessed are the sick” and “Covenant” as well as fucken “Gateways to annihilation”, an album I don’t really think should be in here. What were we thinking? Where is fucken “Domination” by the way? I’m sure it’ll end up here sooner or later, anything else would be a huge disgrace. We blame it all on the drugs’n‘cocks. Either way, while not being my fave MA album, there’s no denying what these fuckers did back in 1989 is nothing short of some classic death metal material. There’s absolutely no way you haven’t heard this piece about a million times if you claim to be the least into the genre. It’s fucken impressive that this album is almost 20 years old and still stands the test of time.

Songwriting

8. Any death metal band claiming not to have been influenced by Morbid Angel at one or another point in their career are fucken liars. Morbid Angel were, and still are to some extent, an influence to death metal bands all over the globe. I’m sure there is a reason that everyone and their fucken mother wore the classic black MA-shirt with nothing but their logo in the early 90’s, hey – even I fucken did that. But on to the actual song writing… There’s been some serious thought put into what the kids, at the time, were doing. There’s a fuckload of nice passages and bodyparts-moving sections going on here. The material’s got a nice flow and it definitely feels like some time were spent on writing “Altars of madness”. And that is most probably what makes it a fucken classic in the end, huh?

Production

7,5. There’s no denying that each and every MA album’s got quite a thin sound for some reason. It’s all clean and shit, but there’s absolutely no punch to their productions whatsoever. This is no different. While everything (almost anyways) is very audible and clear, you definitely wish for some bass frequencies to be put into it. One thing that Morbid Angel always succeeded with is that even though they recorded at Morrisound Studios while the Florida scene was blooming, and everything sounded the same, they had their own sound. I’m not sure it’s actually better than the standard Morri-sound, but it sure is different. I have to give them kudos for that. Without a doubt, “Altars of madness” is one of their better sounding recordings, fortunately lacking the hideous drumsound Mr. Sandoval later thought would be perfect for recording Morbid Angel albums.

Guitars

8. I never found Trey’s style all that impressive. Sure, he’s obviously a very talented guitarist (and according to Trey himself – a Eddie Van Halen junkie of insane proportions, though I can’t say I ever heard anything Eddie-ish in Trey’s stuff) and all, but I was never love struck with his solos. The rhythm guitars is another story as they have some insane groove to them at times. Just take the fantastic opening riff to “Immortal rites”. Now that’s a riff that will go down in history as one of the most classic death metal riffs ever. Put that together with the fantastic guitar/choir break in the middle (you know exactly what I am talking about) of this tune and you all of a sudden have 2 fucken excellent riffs that defines Morbid Angel. Actually, you can find classic MA riffs in pretty much each and every song on “Altars of madness”. That means something. Something I have to rate a 9,5, though, is Trey’s hairdo:

A cockerspaniel? Trey Azagthoth?

Vocals

7,5. David Vincent later turned out to (become very, very gay) grow a distinct personality in his voice, but here he sounds… eh… well.. young. Nothing wrong with that, but also nothing really awesome. It’s a good semi-growl, but as mentioned, he became much, much better on the following albums he was on.

Bass

4. You can actually hear it at times, but it’s the same Morrisound problem as always – it’s too damn low in the mix. It sounds like it’s just there to compliment the guitars instead of actually being a bass. Not that it matters, bass was never anything anyone cared about in Morbid Angel’s music. And according to MA’s discography – not even the band itself care too much about the bass, or it’d be louder.

Drums

8,5. Considering the age of this piece, it should probably be a 9,5, but I never felt that special feeling with Pete. He shocked the metal world with his stamina, his speed and his accuracy. He later turned into a drum icon for death metal, and I guess rightfully so. But I was never the hugest fan of his style, as mentioned. Nonetheless, I know when I am impressed, and Pete sure impressed me at the time. By today’s standards Pete is doing nothing revolutionary here, but guys – this was 1989… The sound is decent but, as mentioned, there’s no punch in them drums. Well, there’s no punch in anything on this album, as said previously. Either way, Pete’s doing a great job. Always has, probably always will. If he doesn’t let the drugs kill his talent (and finally himself) like so many other great drummers. Doc, anyone?

Lyrics

7. Simple, blasphemous and satanic. The way it should be. Before Trey Alotofzmack decided to party with the Ancient Ones and have them write the lyrics for him, the message was a bit easier to understand. You don’t have to be Einstein to understand that MA wanted things to be clear from the start:

Ghouls attack the church
Crush the holy priest
Turning the cross towards hell
Writhe in Satan’s flames

Any death metal fan that can’t quote those lyrics by heart is not a death metal fan.

Cover art

10. Yep, yep. A perfect 10 it is. One of the most legendary covers ever. I wonder how many metalheads have got some of that shit tattooed somewhere on their bodies. Dan Seagrave used to be king.

Logo

8. It is a classic, though it looks like a fucken cartoon with all the imaginable metal clich├ęs you can think of; a pentagram, an upside down cross, devil tails, a lollipop, a bum, Lindsay Lohan and Mickey Mouse. We get the point, you guys are fucken satanic by default. I think the only thing missing in it is a pair of hands doing the horns up shit. That, and maybe some MsPainted headbanging dude. Either way, it’s a classic.

Booklet

I wouldn’t fucken know coz I only own the goddamn LP, as with most classics put here. I wonder how many times I have said exactly that in a coverage of a classic… The LP’s packaging is decent though (and the cover sure looks even better since it’s bigger), I’d give it a 7.

Overall and ending rant

8. Not one of my all-time death metal faves, there are a lot of albums I rank higher than this one, but I remember the impact Morbid Angel had on me back in 1989 and I always listen to this album with a huge grin on my face. Morbid Angel had their own style even back here and they have kept that style during the years, even if all those small useless instrumentals and shit they later incorporated tarnish the band a little. There’s nothing of that to be found on “Altars of madness” though. There’s nothing to be found but insane and classic death metal. And that’s more than enough.