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Riding such a cloud of deserved, infernal hype as they were, I was honestly surprised it took as long as it did for Morbid Angel to issue an official live recording. Entangled in Chaos was recorded during the 1996 European tour, and unfortunately it was only released in Europe itself through Earache, so those of us interested in the States were forced to either pay steep import prices or get really lucky. I was blessed to find myself in the latter category, grabbing it cheap out of a festival bin a few years after the fact. This was also pretty important at the time because it was basically the 'swan song' for bassist/vocalist David Vincent, at least until he rejoined the cult in the 21st century.
The recording benefits greatly from the Trey Azagthoth/Erik Rutan combination, pretty much the band's prime in power. The guitar mix has a coiled, fluid power to it which sounds great, with some searing flange and reverb, especially when placed so highly in the volume; what's more impressive is how the leads resonate, whether sloppy or structured, with even more character than most possessed on the studio recordings. Sandoval is just as precise a menace as a concert attendee would have hoped, and Vincent's voice sounds ominous with an extraworldly hue, much to my satisfaction. All of the musicians truly sound up a storm here, even if the bass feels mildly subdued. Tom Morris and Trey did a fine job mixing and mastering it, so you really fear like you're present at the shows.
The track list is fairly well balanced from the first four studio albums, with a slight and welcome favoritism towards Altars of Madness: "Immortal Rites", "Maze of Torment", "Lord of All Fevers and Plagues", "Chapel of Ghouls", and "Blasphemy" are all represented, with "Chapel..." and "Lord..." offering the most entertainment on the entire album. From Blessed Are the Sick they have gathered the title track and "Day of Suffering", and even though that's not my fave material by the band, they sound fitting to their environment. The Covenant selections are "Sworn to the Black", "Blood On My Hands" and "Rapture". As it was their most recent offering, it does make sense that they'd only include "Dominate" from Domination, since most consumers would be more interested in the earlier material in the stage setting.
I was a little disappointed that they didn't at least offer us "Eyes to See, Ears to Hear", being in the minority who actually really likes that album. But if you, like me, view "Blessed Are the Sick" as the spiritual precursor to "Caesar's Palace", then you'll appreciate its lumbering magnitude as an acceptable substitute. All told though, it's an understandable roster of tunes that exhibits the cult's exorbitant level of dynamic ability, and Entangled in Chaos is a successful proxy for those who had no opportunity to be there. Not necessarily a world class live recording, but certainly a function and accurate effigy of blazing hymns.
This is the only live album by the greatest death metal band of all time, and as such the expectations would be high for the first-time listener. However, this album is severely flawed to the point where there is no reason for this to exist.
The rather minor flaw is the track listing. Having five tracks from Altars of Madness is a good choice, though it's still a shame that Suffocation and Visions From the Dark Side didn't make it on to the album. Only one from Domination being present is a good thing, too. However, there are way too few from Blessed Are the Sick. And Angel of Disease, the only true classic from Covenant, is missing, while the title track of Blessed are the Sick is presented without the Leading the Rats part. Chapel of Ghouls also has the last part ("Demons attack with hate..." onward) missing.
But there is a much bigger problem -- the vocals. Now, David Vincent's vocals on Altars of Madness and some of the tracks on Blessed Are the Sick are my favorite voice in death metal -- I prefer him to John Tardy, Martin Van Drunen, Don of the Dead or any other great death metal vocalist. You could tell from his possessed hissings that he was under evil spells, seeing visions from the dark side while bleeding for the devil. Here, he presents his vocals in the style similar to that of his vocals on Covenant -- but they are even more annoying. In addition to being generically guttural like he was on Covenant, his vocals sound as if he is trying to appear "tough." And while singing Covenant in this style wasn't particularly offensive since the songs were composed and produced in a way that is more accommodating to such a style (though singing that album in Altars of Madness style would still have been infinitely better), singing tracks from Altars of Madness in such a style is totally unbearable. This album is a desecration of their own legacy and an insult to David Vincent's self. Furthermore, his vocal lines are slightly different rhythmically, such as holding certain notes, as if he is trying to actually sing. The atmosphere that had been so strong on the studio-version songs, to which he had contributed much by effortlessly and naturally spewing out blasphemous words as if a demon possessing him was guiding his tongue, is utterly ruined on this record by his terrible vocal performance that sounds too forced.
But after all, this is the only live album, and there must be something that makes it worthy for at least the fans of Morbid Angel, right? No. It would hardly have been recognizable as a live album at all, were it not for the crowd's applause at the end of each song or David Vincent saying "thank you very much" in a very bland way. The interaction between the crowd and the performers resembles something one would expect to find in a jazz concert more than it does one that could be expected in a death metal gig. There is one passage in Blasphemy in which they actually do something different from the studio version of the songs, but that is just David Vincent saying something in his terrible growled vocals. Trey Azagthoth solos alone in the beginning of Blasphemy, but it only lasts about ten seconds and can hardly be called an Azagthoth solo time. There is another instance in Blasphemy, in which he solos independently, and a solo (the last one in this shortened version of the song) from Chapel of Ghouls is elongated, but they all last only a few seconds. The production, while not being very problematic on its own, is too professionally done and robs the album of any raw live energy (if it had any). Entangled in Chaos is a failure as a live album, and thus the possible argument of "it should have at least some value since it is the only live album of the band" loses its grounds.
Still, the material is classic, and even with such a horrible vocal delivery, the riffs and solos remind you that Morbid Angel rules, and I cannot give this a lower score for that reason. However, this should not be taken as anything similar to a recommendation. There can be no harm in avoiding this -- just stick to the studio albums instead of wasting your time on this and being offended. Or, better yet, check out some live bootlegs that capture the true essence of Morbid Angel and sheer raw power of a death metal show. Entangled in Chaos is of no value.
This is probably the most important band in the world to me. Not only because they put out some of the best music in the world, but they were one of the first to do so. If Death invented death metal, then Morbid Angel polished it up and perfected it.
This release brings some of the best from the early albums. It's not a real "greatest hits" CD, but close to it. The fact that it's live makes it even better because death metal is best that way. It showcases the immense talent of the metal gods Trey Azagthoth, Dave Vincent and Pete Sandoval. Also this was part of the time Erik Rutan played in Morbid Angel, his glory years. Of course my favorites are the Altars of Madness songs, which are so much better on this album than on the actual Altars of Madness CD. The poor and stale production just didn't do them justice. They are such inspirational songs and to hear them in top notch live quality is just awesome. The songs from Covenant and Domination are not that much different from the studio version, but are good none the less.
If this is something essential or not is up to each and everyone of us to decide for themselves. If you ask me I would say it is because I love live music and I love Morbid Angel. The fact that this is executed in a master like fashion just makes it better. I'm not going to get into the technical bits of the songs, that you can read on the individual reviews of the studio albums.
Bottom line is this is the best live performance I've ever encountered on a record. Why I don't give it a full score is simply because it contains some of, but not all of my favorite songs.
Okay, so perhaps David Vincent wasn’t down and out quite yet (as much as he should have been). While ‘Domination’ was the last studio release with the former bassist/vocalist, he still had one more release, in this case a live album, in him. ‘Entangled In Chaos’ is the first and so far only live release by Morbid Angel, and it is certainly an odd duck in their catalogue for this and numerous other reasons. On top of this is its rarity; ‘Entangled In Chaos’ is only available on important to the United States.
Recorded on their ‘Domination’ tour, ‘Entangled In Chaos’ is surprisingly bereft of songs from that album. Only the title track is present from that release, and even it is the final song on ‘Entangled’. The rest of the tracks are composed of songs from their first three releases; although this is a welcome feature, it seems counterproductive from a promotional standpoint for Morbid Angel. Perhaps even they realized that the songs on that album were mediocre at best; either way, this LP is all the better for such a decision.
Really, there’s very little to distinguish this as a live album. There are bursts of crowd noise in the beginning and end of songs, but they are quickly washed out by the music. The production has more space and obviously has the tonal properties of a live venue, but apart from these elements and slight changes in the songs (‘Blessed Are The Sick’ cuts off it’s second ‘Leading The Rats’ movement and is much faster; ‘Blasphemy’ has a small break with one of the only instances of crowd interaction on the release), there’s nothing really to distinguish it from a studio album from Morbid Angel; provided you hadn’t heard the originals, of course.
‘Entangled In Chaos’ is practically a laundry list of Morbid Angel classics. The material present leans heavily towards “Altars Of Madness’ and ‘Covenant’; only the title track and ‘Day Of Suffering’ are present from ‘Blessed Are The Sick’. Most of it, however, is played in the style of ‘Covenant’: fast, ripping, blackened music with an emphasis on violently rhythmic confrontation of its listeners. All the performances are technically and spiritually top-notch. It seems amazing that after such a terrible album in ‘Domination’ that Morbid Angel could come back with the fury of old, but here is the proof that they were simply not dead yet. What provoked such a change? Perhaps the natural energy of live performance ignited the fires in Morbid Angel which had laid dormant for their fourth LP. Either way, their performances are very fine.
The quality of this album is helped heavily by the production. The instruments are brutally sharp, though at the expense of some tonal depth. This is particularly evidenced by the drums: tom fills that would once have maintained some sense of melody now tear through the soundstream, the percussiveness having been increased manyfold over previous releases. All the instruments, particularly the vocals, have a slight echo to them, better reflecting the space of the venue. However, the instruments are obviously not as melodically lucid as they are on studio recordings; make of that what you will. This is an album that showcases the brutality of Morbid Angel, not their elaborate melodies. Vincent’s vocals are, unfortunately, similar to his performance on ‘Domination’, and although hearing the older tracks in this new style is interesting, it is not as good as it could be.
I suppose the importance of a live album can be measured by its importance in a band’s catalogue as a whole. Is ‘Entangled In Chaos’ a mandatory release? Probably not. It’s rather high cost and lack of general reverence from the metal scene make it less than essential. But for people who are interested in hearing Morbid Angel live and raw, or simply those who want everything that Morbid Angel put out (such as myself), it’s an excellent purchase.
Drawing on material from their first four albums, Morbid Angel offered up an extremely well executed live album with "Entangled in Chaos". Running just under forty minutes, fans of the band won't find themselves bored in the least with the eleven tracks offered here. With four cuts from "Altars..", and two cuts from "Blessed..", the band's earlier material is equally represented alongside their newer material at the time. Regardless of which era one prefers, the instrumentation is top notch and the sludgy sounding reproductions of classics like "Lord of All Fevers and Plagues" and "Immortal Rites" serve only to build on the originals. David Vincent's vocals are occasionally buried under the guitars, yet they are wonderfully done. The drums aren't hampered at all by the production, which was a problem for me with live albums from other bands.
In closing, the only negative aspects involve the minimal deviation from the album versions of the songs, despite the different guitar sound utilized for the earlier tracks. Also, as mentioned, the vocals occasionally get lost in the mix, something that particularly annoys me. As a fan of just about every Morbid Angel album, I can't recommend this enough. Rarely is the live environment of a band captured so accurately.