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I recently obtained a vinyl copy of the Earache release of the album. And I must have spun it five times daily for the past week. It's just the music I have been searching for now. I heard it earlier, back in 1993, but by then I had already listened myself "deaf" to the versions on Altars Of Madness and Blessed Are The Sick. And therefore I never bought it. I was a fool. But that's a long story.
I am back at rediscovering metal after abandoning it for many years. Now "Abominations Of Desolation" is to me the greatest record Morbid Angel ever did. I like Mike Browning's vocals better than any other vocalist they ever had.
The main thing that drives me crazy about this record is... *fanfare* The riffs! And also the compostions. And the frequent and totally mindfucking outbursts of lava! I have always felt that Trey Azagthoth's riffs and compositions (and soloing) couldn't come from this planet.
And now, recently, in an interview with Mike Browning I read, I discovered that Morbid Angel's main source of inspiration was The Necronomicon. According to M.B. they were totally obsessed with it, they believed it was real, and they performed most of the rituals described in the book.
"Abominations Of Desolation" was recorded in May 1986 with Trey Azagthoth, lead guitar, Mike Browning, drums and vocals, Richard Brunelle, rhythm guitar, and John Ortega, bass. The main reason this line-up couldn't stay together is, according to Mike Browning's own rumours; he caught Trey kissing his girlfriend, and he was young and foolish and beat Trey up. And that was the end. Too bad!
How to tag this album is difficult. It is somewhat inside a black/death/thrash context. It doesn't matter. One could perhaps label it "black/death/thrash" and be done with it. The Iak Sakkath Invocation is a nice way to start things off. It reminds me a bit of Slayer's Hell Awaits intro. Then Chapel Of Ghouls attacks the church, crushes the holy priest, turning the cross towards hell and writhe with Satan's flames! One of the best songs on the album. The drumming hasn't been mentioned. There is a certain nice groove at work here (on the whole album). This is one of the last bits of an era where one could still feel some kind of 70's feeling about the sound and production, where the metal really sounds old. Yet this record sounds very futuristic, in riffs, rhythm structure, solos... Occult science fiction, blends nicely with my images of The Ancient Ones in "Illuminatus! Trilogy". Sometimes I feel like the demons invoked from Trey's riffs are not only demons but outer space beings as well.
The next track, Unholy Blasphemies is not THE highlight of the album, but it works fine. I love the kind of beats and sudden subtle small time changes frequently found in old Sarcofago and also in Beherit. This record should be a goldmine to anyone into Sarcofago's I.N.R.I., Beherit's Drawing Down The Moon*, Necrophagia's Season Of The Dead, Necrovore's eh, that thing they did, Slayer's Hell Awaits. If anyone feel a similarity in sound to the last record mentioned (one of the records that introduced me to "evil" heavy music in general), that might be because Morbid Angel liked the sound of Hell Awaits and got the producer.
*Beherit is not necessarily very similar to Morbid Angel, but in some hypnochaotic satanic psychedelic super madness way, there can be a certain amount of similarity, especially in the feeling, and perhaps mostly because of the lava, in Morbid Angel's case.
Angel Of Disease, I think, would be my favorite track on this album. And then I could say next best about almost all songs, except Unholy Blasphemies.
Is there a point in describing all songs? They can all be summarized in this: "Insane riffs from some insane planet with extremely frequent outbursts of lava, erm, lava = guitar soloing, so fast and wild and out of this world that it makes everything else in this world seem ridiculous and out of tune. Simple, "primitive", groovy drumming. Catchy compositions, as soon as I've heard the record a few times I find myself eagerly awaiting almost every riff change, and especially when they, as so often, change the groove excactly when the lava erupts, I find myself eagerly awaiting, and almost orgasming inside when I hear those screaming guitar solos on top of those weird (and dare I say the G word?) riffs that make me bubble inside, for darkness.
This evil satanic weirdness straight outta the Necronomicon is the unpolished supergem in the Morbid Angel book. Haha, to think they took it for real and performed A LOT of rituals. I love that. And also the fact that Morbid Angel was Trey and Mike's first band. A virgin band! Their bass player and vocalist Dallas was sent to jail for a long time, that was the reason for the first line-up change. Fuck the police. But blessed are they also, for they in some way contributed to the chains of events eventually leading to the "Abominations Of Desolation" line-up which kicks so much ass.
The lava! The lava! Oh my god! There is no way for me deliver objective review (like the very idea of such was not condemned a long time ago). If this is to be called thrash, it is the most "death metal" of all thrash records, if it is to be called death, it is the most "black metal" of all death metal records. The atmospheres provided by Trey's riffs creates some of the most psyched out moments of musical magic that this brain is likely to receive. So they can not be described by me. They are so beyond words for me it's ridiculous. And I think I like it that way. That I can not comprehend how any earthly being could compose stuff like this, just adds to the listening experience. Gives me a feeling of something mystical, unknown, unreal. The riff that can be described is not the true riff, anyone?
"The Gate/Lord Of All Fevers And Plague" and "Welcome To Hell" are perhaps two of my immediate next best candidates, and of course "Chapel Of Ghouls" or "Azagthoth". But I like this album best from start to finish. And then again. And again. Side A. Side B. Both sides have intros. That's pretty neat.
Even though there is a similar sound throughout the record and constant weirdness, evilness and assault on the senses (lava, anyone?), one can find many different styles of music incorporated into that sound. Someone complained about a riff that sounds happy? Well, that is what sets Morbid Angel apart from a lot of other bands, and that's perhaps what makes their music so otherworldly in the first place. And as a fan of psychedelic rock, I just can't go wrong with that particular riff in "Lord Of All Fevers And Plague"...
Just a little more trivia: Trey Azagthoth said in an interview that one of his musical influences (apart from Mozart, guitar heroes and early black/death/thrash bands) was backwards music, and that he often tried to give his riffs and compositions the same feel one would get from listening to backwards music, that eerie, almost "perverted" (in some sick sense of the word) or even "satanic" world of backwards music, what a joy! I am so happy that people like Trey Azagthoth and Mike Browning were born and decided to make the most satanic teenage savage insane black madness ever. Thank you, O Ancient Ones, wherever you are!
Let "Abominations Of Desolation" be the fucking destroyer of this feeble little brain!