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Weak and adrift compared to Altars or Covenant - 65%

morbert, April 9th, 2008

Man was I disappointed when this album came out. Like many others here on the Continent I got introduced to the phenomenon of Morbid Angel when Altars Of Madness came out. I played that album like a madman, eventually got my hands on the “Thy Kingdom Come” EP etc. Compared to everything earlier, “Blessed Are the Sick” was slick commercial crap. Listening back now after 16 years it actually has a few good moments preventing it from being bashed entirely.

First of all half the album was filled with old demo songs (“Thy Kingdom Come”, “Unholy Blasphemies”, “Abominations” and “The Ancient Ones” aka “Azagthoth”). Pretty weird it took them 2 years to come up with enough material to fill only half an album including a lot of obsolete instrumental intermezzos and intros. Sounds pretty much like writer’s block to me. To emphasize this, the old songs are also actually the best songs present.

Secondly some of the new songs were lame and doomy. Especially “Fall From Grace” and “Blessed Are the Sick / Leading the Rats” are weak sludgy songs which could be acceptable if Lord Of Putrefaction or Alastis (or some other really bad doom-death band) had written them but are very weak compared to the Morbid Angel standards. Other new songs like “Brainstorm” and “Rebel Lands” tend to sound more like Morbid Angel but are rather short, under-developped and immature compared to the compositional effeciency of their previous album.

Thirdly the vocals and production were cheesy. Dave Vincent does not sound like the Dave Vincent we knew from “Altars Of Madness”. His voice was less raspy and consisted more of low grunting. Rather disappointing and in those days generic already. His earlier raspy voice gave Morbid Angel such a character. This was now lost.

The production was too sterile and too clean for 1991 standards. The album just didn’t sound brutal enough. The drums were played with fury but they sounded harmless and triggered. The guitars sound deep, clean and the feeling of aggression and speed seems lost. This sound, together with the generic grunting by Dave Vincent made the album sound childish and radio-friendly compared to “Altars Of Madness”.

All in all this album sounds as if the band were trying to sound more mature. Did they try to prove something? Well, by trying to do so, they failed. Also because of the clear case of writer’s block of course. Morbid Angel are best when they are fast, furious and evil. Never change a winning team.

It still give this album 65 points because it features some great old songs which I love to have in my collection (even though the early demo versions sound more brutal and evil) but the rest of the songs, intermezzos and the production just doesn’t do it. The quality of their next album “Coventant” confirmed even more how weak “Blessed Are the Sick” actually was.