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Although formed in 1984, it wasn’t until 1989 that Morbid Angel had the proper conditions to unleash their debut album. They even refused to release what it would be their first LP “Abominations of Desolation” because they weren’t satisfied with it. I’m glad they did. Altars of Madness may be very well the best extreme metal release of all time because both lyrically and musically this is just perfect. While, for example, Slayer’s “Show no Mercy” was also revolutionary but lyrically and compositionally it lacks technique and maturity. Morbid Angel’s contains the rawness and evilness of “Show No Mercy”, indeed, but twice as mature. Altars of Madness is Satanic, but it’s not dumb; it’s Anti-Christian, but not childish; it’s dark and obscure but it’s not cheesy. This is how an extreme Metal LP should sound like. When people hear this they do not laugh at this or mock it, this is a disturbing masterpiece released from the minds of two insane motherfuckers: Trey Azagthoth and David Vincent.
There are 4 Key elements on this album: the drumming, Trey´s absolutely maniacal solos and David Vincent’s raspy and thrashy vocals but at the same time very evil and brutal. When listening to this, the listener is almost transported to another dimension, another realm. This album is the only LP I’ve have heard that changes completely my state of mind. Man, those leads leads can make your ears bleed and Sandoval’s drumming sounds like Satan pounding with a hammer on a bunch of pathetic Christians. In my opinion, he is simply the best death metal drummer ever. David Vincent’s bass is not very audible except on “Suffocation” but that doesn’t matter. I will not forget Brunelle, he is a very talented guitarist too, to bad he quitted the band after “Blessed are the sick”.
Every song here is mandatory because every song is almost a story. That’s why this album is fascinating. Every song describes a feeling, an ideal or an event. “Blasphemy” and “Chapel of Ghouls” (who has a very good chanting section in the middle, maybe the best song on the album) are true anti-christian anthems; “Maze of Torment” is the band’s own definition of Madness and “Bleed for the Devil” is the band’s choice to grind on. The album is very fast overall, only slows down “Evil Spells” but that’s the most evil (the title says it all) song on Altars. There are no flaws or throw-away tracks and the production is impeccable, even more for a debut album. I have absolutely nothing to say negative about this Metal Masterpiece.
Highlights: Chapel of Ghouls, Maze of Torment, Damnation (great main riff and chorus!!) and Bleed for the Devil (this one makes you bleed, indeed).