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(My first review!)
This demo album, though undeveloped and seemingly the work of teenagers experimenting artistically, contains most of the better Morbid Angel songs on the first three albums, including Angel of Disease -- the only good one from Covenant, in my opinion. For anybody who enjoyed BATS and especially Altars of Madness, this album is worth having to explore the origin of Morbid Angel's songs of harsh evil and brutality.
The album begins with an impressive theatrical summoning from the Necronomicon full of the "Iak Sakkath" chant, followed by an evil reverse-speech containing the usual lines of "I am the God of Gods" and other such things.
It quickly breaks into a slower version of "Chapel of Ghouls" -- and the first thing one will notice is the harsh, raspy, somewhat nasal voice of Mike Browning. He sounds very mean, but it won't impress anyone as remotely supernatural in nature. It is easier to understand than Vincent's, however, and the lyrics -- most of them are slightly different in ways -- are quite evil, although that makes me chuckle half the time when I hear things like "vomiting on the cross."
Though many of the songs sort of drone around in their sound, in a slower but nevertheless crushing sound in comparison to the later versions, the solos come out clear and are as blazing fast, dissonant, and insane as anything Azagthoth puts out in the future, and really stand out.
Angel of Disease, the only good song on Covenant, is on track 3 -- and since this album was recorded in 1987, this only sets back the date for when Korn could have copied the riff at 1:45 for Ball Tongue for those who would deny it. Since Covenant is only worth buying for that song, buy this instead.
Track 4, Azagthoth, is the older version of "The Ancient Ones," and has different lyrics in many places, though much of the song is the same. It's not nearly as catchy as the BATS version, but is good nevertheless.
Track 5 is "The Gate," which is a guitar and drum intro with Browning's evil laughter that breaks into a Lord of All Fevers and Plagues, which retains its solos and sounds very evil, even if the tempo is slower. It also has an almost happy-sounding riff that seems out of place and was moved later, but continues on as normal.
Track 6, Hell Spawn, really shows off some fast, fanatical drumming, screaming, and picking, and unfortunately wasn't done on either AOM or BATS, when it could have been very awesome. The somewhat repetitive chants of "I am Hell Spawn" is the only downside to this song -- it is awesome, and as fast as any of the later stuff.
Abominations isn't much different than on BATS, and is good.
Demon Seeds is good, but sounds a little too much like a Kreator song, and doesn't have the best evil lyrics, and seems a little redundant with the "twisting minds," "burning crosses," and "crushing Jehovah's church," but it's still loads better than everything after BATS, and about half that album too. It's fanatical, and brutal, but not the best one of those.
The last song, Welcome Hell, is a slow, dragging version of Evil Spells, with a speedup into a repetive chorus of "Welcome to Hell" instead. At about 3:45-4:20, there's a nice surprise that unfortunately wasn't in the AOM version -- it just goes insane and forces you to headbang!
This album would be in third place, after Altars of Madness and Blessed are the Sick -- anything else really isn't worth having. It's worth a buy, or at least a listen, if you're a Morbid Angel fan.