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Morbid Angel are one of the very first wave of death metal bands that during the 80s and the early 90s set the Earth aflame by their great music. Their debut is still regarded as a milestone in a particular way of doing such a vicious genre because it’s quite different from albums by Obituary, Cannibal Corpse or Deicide. It introduced new elements in an already newcomer genre like some keys sounds and the less impulsive- raw approach.
“Altars Of Madness” was recorded in 1989 (with a pause to record the Terrorizer tracks that would have composed World Downfall) by an all stars line up that featured, among the others, the eccentric guitarist Trey Azagthoth and the inhuman drummer Pete Sandoval. At the time it was so difficult to find such good players in the growing death metal genre and this great line up was completed by the vocalist, Venom worshipper, David Vincent and the second guitarist Richard Brunelle.
“Immortal Rites” already shows a totally different song writing: more focused on the complicated riffage and technical drum structures. The up tempos are a bit left alone to let the most “progressive” influences grow in a premeditated orgy of strange riffs and various tempos changes. If the following “Suffocation” is more canonical in death metal style, in “Visions Of The Dark Past” the odd guitars are again well stuck.
Brunelle is a more classical shredder in the solos, but always good and quite technical too, instead of Trey that already shows a more personal and mature approach with lots of strange melodies and techniques. “Maze Of Torment” is a truly gem made of continue up tempos, sudden blast beats and a good refrain. The technique level is always so high and the fuzz, strange, distorted guitars sound (with an hint of echo) makes this CD even more obscure and weirdo.
In “Lord Of All Fever And Plagues”, if you pay attention, you can hear the continuous syncopation on the snare drum by a restless Pete “Commando” Sandoval, while he’s martyrizing the bass drum. Vincent, with his Cronos tonality, invokes each and every forgotten, mythological God. Like in “Chapel Of Ghouls” the guitars patterns are more “relaxed” during some solos, giving you the ideas of taking part in an occult celebration.
The speed restarts in “Bleed For Devil” made history, such the blasting “Blasphemies” in a brutal mixture of distorted, dissonant riffs; restless, technical drumming and excruciating vocals. Overall, this album already dug a definitely different path in a newborn genre like the death metal was in 1989…that’s still nowadays unbelievable and, even if I prefer the Covenant album, I must admit it’s definitely worth owning.