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Among Morbid Angel's catalogue, Gateways to Annihilation is often cited as their best post-Covenant (if not post-Altars) effort. While I might not agree with such an assertion, I must admit that it certainly is their most atmospheric, due to the increased emphasis on Trey Azagthoth's and Erik Rutan’s colossal, torturous riffing alongside the cavernous bellow of Steve Tucker (who previously fronted a pretty average death/thrash band named Ceremony). Trey also lends a hand on the song Secured Limitations, but it turns out to be no more than an embarrassing and tacky black metal shriek – a poor imitation of former vocalist David Vincent in his heyday. Remember that guy from 1349? Yeah, Trey sounds something like him but more... childish, confused. Anyway, his solos can get rather irritating too. Such exercises in atonality were justifiable back then, and a number of those found here are quite intense, like the haunting cries of At One with Nothing, but mostly they only serve to needlessly prolong the tracks – Summoning Redemption, the worst offender, is about three minutes longer than it should be, all because Trey needed to desperately scratch his fretboard itch. Fortunately, Pete Sandoval’s drumming is as dexterous as it’s ever been, demonstrating remarkable restraint on the agonising dirge He Who Sleeps, but still capable of flattening cities when required on God of the Forsaken.
The album draws a lot of its sound from the two that preceded it, but goes about it in a much more refined manner. At One with Nothing picks up where Where the Slime Live left off, channeling a similarly brooding aura, and the subtle but definitely noticeable booms (timpani? I can’t really tell) add a tremendous boost to the low-end frequencies of Opening of the Gates. Also of note are the spacy leads and frighteningly consistent galloped chugs on I. While the former is nothing new for the band – this ‘echo chamber’-type lead guitar tone has been kept relatively constant since Domination – they’re now executed with a very stern professionalism. The album ends on a destructive note with the unforgiving God of the Forsaken, a whirlwind of monolithic chords, light-speed blasting, and what is possibly the best solo on the album; if there was one track to represent Gateways, this would be it.
Though its flaws prevent me from being as fervent in my praise as most others (I for one actually prefer the rawer style of Formulas Fatal to the Flesh), the monumental air of Gateways to Annihilation cannot be denied. Yes, Mithras would shamelessly take this template, slice off all the fat that came with it, and inject a huge dose of vicious brutality all while maintaining its epic scope (thereby approaching perfection on Worlds Beyond the Veil), but they have this album to thank for starting it all.
While almost every single Morbid Angel album up to, and including, 'Domination' met a scene rapt with anticipation, eager to explore the enthusiastic guitar pyrotechnics or death metal innovation that was doubtlessly contained within, it seems that the 'official' fervor surrounding this band had dimmed ever since the departure of David Vincent and the solidification of Morbid Angel's approach to songwriting. Did 'Formulas' really contain anything new? And yet, were there that many death metal albums released at the same time than can be seen now as somehow more 'groundbreaking', or, at the very least, worth listening to? With their decision to pursue a more personal, subjective, and completely 'Azagthothian' direction now at least two or three years behind them, I don't think this band can really be compared to any other - what's the point? What would you learn from doing so? No, they might not be the hardcore innovators they once were (listen to 'Altars of Madness' again), but they still don't have any competition at all when it comes to determining the direction of the death metal scene. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Morbid Angel: the death metal institution. Because of this, I was both anticipating this new record and somehow dreading its release - what could it offer? Where could Morbid Angel go from the last record? Would they finally decide to turn in a more commercial direction, out of sheer exhaustion or boredom?
From the very first song, you will see that this is not the case. The production and guitar sound are what hit you first: Eric Rutan and Trey's seven-string Ibanez guitars being bent and twisted back and forth to sound out massive, sweeping, low-end rhythm work: slow, masterly, rumbling, almost a subterranean lumbering and swaying; churning muted chords crunch and slice over flooding waves of sonic star-gazing, filled with truly cursed/darkened harmonizations, poetic in their elaboration of doom - their version of an evil Van Halen 'brown sound'. This is possibly the heaviest and slowest they have ever played. It is perhaps notable that Rutan [I think?] gets the first solo of the entire album half of the way into the opener 'Summon Redemption'. Having half-exhausted himself in Hate Eternal, he returns here older, wiser, and more bitter than ever. It echoes in his playing. For once, Morbid Angel refrain from trying to break speed records with Sandoval's kit - his blasts serve mainly to back up the slower rhythm riffs, setting up that 'contrary' constant blast/lurching rhythm guitar style that I believe Morbid Angel first displayed prominently, if not invented: the grinding snare/bass drums behind slow, arching guitar work that makes these riffs sound twice as agonized, twice as unnatural and sinister. The best example of this is the second song, 'Ageless, Still I Am', where the expert guitarists constantly weave in and out of harmonies to produce some of the darkest melodies in this band's history.
In addition, their lyrical vision seems to have narrowed: back again are the lunging, thrusting imprecations against God and/or Christians and the other sick hypocrites of the world. Where before the music served as a lethal lightning strike behind Vincent's tales of destruction and redemption, Morbid Angel now come only to suffocate with a tidal wave of total contempt. They will choke the world into unconsciousness and then euthanize it, and Azagthoth, in his misanthropy, has moved far beyond the gleam of Tony Robbins' teeth into a lightless place - his melodies are alien, inhuman, they seep into the listening sphere like Zyklon-B and steal the life from your limbs. His solos are utterly insane: they sound like creatures crying in the night as they die, the bleating of sacrificial lambs, the songs of birds, or his Lovecraftian namesake piping blindly, madly, at the center of the universe. They are almost completely free of traditional reference points - try to trace their evolution or progression.
One can only wonder what their next tour - with Pantera, no less - is going to be like. How will it go? What will the reactions be like? How will the Fraternal Brothers of Durst react to songs that are meant to crush and bring them to despair? I hope to witness it. In the meantime, this is once again a fantastic album from the Fathers, and quite possibly their darkest/most obscure creation yet... be sure to seek it out.
I would definitely rate this Morbid Angel's best composition, but unfortunately, there's a couple of problems with the album. Firstly, the production sounds a little plastic, with Pete Sandoval's snare sounding a bit unnatural, along with other instruments. Secondly, the base drums on "Opening Of The Gates" are apparently quantized by Trey to sound like 16th notes, rather than the original triplets that were on the album (much to Pete Sandoval's disdain). Those are my only problems with the album. Glad I got the negatives out of the way, now for the positives, and why I consider this Morbid Angel's best album composition wise.
This album may at first seem slow and plodding, especially considering the past albums by Morbid Angel, especially albums like Covenant and Formulas Fatal to the Flesh. Those albums usually incorporated blast beats as a staple of most of the songs, and the lack of blast beats on this album may annoy some (although there are plenty of blast beats on this album). But remember this: In the death metal's early years, blast beats weren't as present as they are today, with Altars of Madness being one of the first death metal albums to include blast beats (and World Downfall, if you consider that death metal). Death metal bands that did implement blast beats usually included them in key parts that expressed a songs more more intense parts, like in Chapel of Ghouls off of Altars of Madness, or Dead by Dawn by Deicide, off of their debut. That's generally how this album handles blasts. Ageless, Still I Am (My favorite song off of this album) handles blast beats extremely well, I think, generally having them apart of the chorus.
The songs you'll most likely find to be the most slow and plodding will be songs like He Who Sleeps and At One With Nothing. They generally take a more atmospheric brutality approach to the music, like early Vital Remains albums. Listening enough to the songs, you'll get to know and love them, and feel the atmosphere that the song writers were trying to convey.
The faster songs on the album are very groovy, like the intro to To The Victor The Spoils. The riffing is generally dark, and the production makes it sound very dark. God Of The Forsaken is the last song on the album, and it's where Pete Sandoval shows us that he's the king of blasting. Opening of The Gates is one of my favorite songs off of the album, but while the 280 bpm kicks sound nice, what's the price? Artificial base drums? This is definitely a negative on the album.
This album is a bit underrated to me, definitely deserving more praise than it's gotten. I would recommend it to any death metal fan.
As we all know this late in the year 2011, the mighty Morbid Angel have caused quite a stir with their latest, the “I” album. I’ve listened to the thing, but I am frankly a bit scared to sit down with it proper, as it is quite clearly not the straight ahead death fucking metal that we wanted. Correction, NEEDED.
Here we have the “G,” so let us travel back eleven years to a stranger aeon in the weird life of Morbid Angel. “Kawazu” is one of the best intros to any metal album. It’s creepy, tepid, with an almost Om vibration to it, and it is fucking morbid. Gateways to Annihilation is steeped in the standard lore of the great old ones, and this Kawazu perfectly captures the eternality of nature in a time before (and after) the age of man. While I understand the school of thought that shuns this band’s synth segues and intros, I personally enjoy them all. Yes, I too wish to be bludgeoned into oblivion by Pete the Feet, but these bits of experimentation allow the listener to drink in moments of divine alienation. As the song of the locust fades away the crushing ensues with “Summoning Redemption.” The very first thing I noticed about the production here was the fake-sounding snare. It just doesn’t sound real at all. “Drum replacement” is a process of evil in the music biz that has been going on since the 70s and now it happens all day every day, in all walks of music, metal being no exception. Just listen to any modern death metal band and you will hear drum replacement. Studio polishings aside, and regardless of the moral debate on triggering, it’s still Pete doing what made him legend. From start to finish this album is heavy as fuck with each player offering a fine performance, including Steve Tucker.
Imagine what life must have been like for poor Steve Tucker. Granted, the choice to accept the job opening of bassist/frontman/David Vincent replacement was all his, but a more unenviable position than that is virtually inconceivable in the world of death metal. However, the dude really shines on this album and proves to these ears that he is made of the morbidity required for said Vincent vacancy. His vox are low, they’re brutal, they’re fucking hateful, and considering the hostile reviews of Mr. Vincent’s recent return, some may be wondering what ol’ Steve is up to these days. Tucker has indeed penned all the lyrics of Gateways, with the exception of Azagthoth’s “Secured Limitations,” which is pretty much the “Angel of Disease” of this album.
“He Who Sleeps.” Fuck my weakling, earthling, puny and pathetic ass, this song DESTROYS. Since the Blessed days, Morbid Angel have been known to indulge in the doom, and “He Who Sleeps” is a heaving hybrid of DM and ancient doom that writhes in the sludges of time immemorial. This is unquestionable heaviness, as that of dreaming Cthulu awakening to swallow the empire of man in a single breath of all-consuming rage. From thence, Commando Sandoval and crew procede to blast their way through speed metal rippers such as “To the Victor, the Spoils” and the double bass devastation that is “Opening of the Gates.” The feet of Pete are on fucking fire here as bpms of demoniacal speeds slice through the hallucinogenic lead guitar work of Trey Azagthoth. Morbid are tuned quite low on this album but the thrashing riffs and tremolo speed-picking remain razor-sharp. The guitar trippery of “Secured Limitations” leads us into the creeping solemnity of “Awakening,” which is reminiscent of Domination’s “Melting” or “Dreaming.” Again, if you have a problem with a wee bit of variance in sonic texture or these artists’ inclination to break the metal mold, fuck off.
The tenth track “I” is one of Tucker’s finest lyrical renderings as well one of the more profound musical offerings found on Gateways. Utterly nihilistic in an active and almost Eastern sense of the word, “I” is a bold assertion of the Morbid’s mastery of reality.
“I am the void of light, silence, I am the dawn of time
I am the all you see, emptiness, I am the non
I am the air you breathe, treachery, I am your wine
I am the soil and seed, mundane, I am the in between.”
Gateways to Annihilation closes with “God of the Forsaken,” a definite gem in the Morbid Angel catalogue. Here we are treated to the finest of blast beats, shredding, and deathly destruction at the annihilating end. Trey’s solo at 2:45 is one of his best ever; the expression he conveys with his axe is of the purest and most liberating form and it cements the man’s immortality in the genre. There are few players with the ability to express such dreamlike states with a guitar, and when you combine that with the diabolical drumming of Pete Sandoval you have what is called a juggernaut. Listen to this album and you may hear where modern death metallers Behemoth and other such newbs got their sound.
Of all the Morbid Angel full-lengths, from the rightfully acclaimed (Altars of Madness) to the mediocre (Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, Blessed are the Sick) to the sadly underscored (Domination), I feel as if Gates to Annihilation is the most sure of itself. The experiments had been written and performed, the crowd's reaction noted. Deep in their sweltering Floridian bunkers, Trey Azagthoth, Pete Sandoval, Erik Rutan and no-longer new guy Steve Tucker knew that what they wanted to produce, a solid balance of their previous five full-lengths and an atmospheric slug-fest that was perhaps their best at interpreting the cosmic horrors and human isolation that their lyrics produce. Call it a 'broader view' of what such tantamount summonings and rendings in the fabric of space/time would produce.
The very crawling, battering rhythms created through the record forge mental images of long dessicated alien environments. Haunting brutality, twisted spires of rock and other elements that would no longer be scryed upon by the living or the sane. The cover image by Dan Seagrave is one of his personal finest, and in my opinion the best Morbid Angel have featured on any of the full-lengths, trumping even the iconic Altars of Madness. It really makes one sit back, think, and then if he/she thinks too hard, slowly start to lose grasp of reality. In a nihilistic universe of twisted occult aesthetics, Elder Gods stalking their next food source, and untold horrors that the 3-dimensional mortal simply cannot bear, it's really the whole package. Add to that the fact the production is so amazingly well-balanced, dual leads zoning over the intense punishment of the bottom end, and you've got an album forged to KILL EVERYONE.
Stylistically, this hearkens back to Blessed Are the Sick with a touch of Domination, in that it largely operates on a slower, fundamental tempo. Lurching, but so very determined and vast in scale, tunes like "Summoning Redemption" and "He Who Sleeps" retain a curious versatility despite their reluctance to spend considerable time in the acceleration zone. Tucker's voice has truly shaped itself here to become the ponderous bludgeon that can stand in for David Vincent, and the weighted fiber of the guitar tone possesses both a hard edge and a cystic resilience with great depth to it. The leads are exotic, alien sirens which splash upon the lifeless, terrestrial surfaces as if they were birds of prey striking through the vast vacuum of nothingness. In a sense, there is this cohesion throughout the album, from "Summoning Redemption" through the closer "God of the Forsaken", which makes it more difficult to distinguish individual pieces than it would be on Altars or Domination, yet this does not deter its quality.
Any gripes I have with the album are minor at best. For one, I dislike the scratchier, snarled vocals on "Secured Limitations". I feel that they distract me from the overall consistency and it would have been a better experience without them. For another, several of the repetitions of the riffs do come off a fraction too droning and monotonous. Granted, that's half the point of these things, but a few added dynamics would not have hurt the album's case. Otherwise, this is one of the best of Morbid Angel's albums, a dark, belligerent, savvy enterprise which proved beyond the shadow of the doubt that the new lineup was functional and formidable. I'd choose this over Blessed Are the Sick, Covenant, Formulas Fatal to the Flesh or Heretic any day. A poignant harbinger of Armageddons yet unseen.
After the seemingly directionless and free-structured ‘Formulas Fatal to the Flesh’, Morbid Angel return to a more simplistic, formulaic approach not too dissimilar to ‘Domination’. But while ‘Domination’ sounded fresh and inspired, ‘Gateways’ comes across as plodding and by-the-numbers with the end result sounding like a collection of 'Nothing is Not’ and ‘Where the Slime Lives’ clones with the album slowly dirging its way through tracks rarely raising the intensity levels.
However, while disappointing in its almost doomish approach, this is still Morbid Angel and the band hasn’t written a bad album in their whole illustrious career. Tracks such as ‘To the Victor the Spoils’ and ‘Secured Limitations’ still rock as good as anything MA have done in the past and there are still glimpses of the band’s greatness scattered across the album.
Also Steve Tucker has taken a more active role in the lyrical creation this time around and we are greeted once again with the more familiar occult/satanic tinged themes and messages. Steve’s vocals are also now given more freedom to move and the slower pace helps him put more of a personality into his delivery.
In the end, the album suffers from being just a little too slow and too long for its own good and drowns under its own weight in parts, however there's just too much quality here for this to be a total fail. A solid if not amazing album from a true innovator of the death metal genre.
Ah, what could be a more stirring event in human history than the advent of a new millenium. After closing the theoretical book of the one thousands, the metal scene (and most of civilization) was unsure as to its new direction. The achievements of the past years of the genre’s existence were, in a way, shut off from this new era, forcing a redevelopmment of metal’s sound even though previous classics were still in sight. Perhaps this is an unnecessary distinction to make, but an argument could be made that metal before and after the year 2000 are radically different beasts simply due to the symbolically changing aeons.
Morbid Angel released their sixth studio album, ‘Gateways To Annihilation’, in October of 2000. Narrowly having escaped the fate of so many of their colleague’s post-Earache crash due to the consistency of their previous album ‘Formulas Fatal To The Flesh’, they were, now that the foundation of their sound had been repaired, willing to push their self-imposed boundaries as they had on previous albums. Thus, ‘Gateways To Annihilation is, at least in goal, a return to the form of their first three LPs, though their sound had most certainly been modernized at this stage.
However, such modernization is in this case not to be viewed with such suspicion as modernization typically is in the metal scene. ‘Gateways To Annihilation’ is the album that ‘Domination’ should have been: one where mainstream appeal and extreme metal converge appropriately, resulting in an album that can work with Pantera fans as well as those of Deicide. The sound of ‘Gateways To Annihilation’ is appropriately thunderous and anthemic without sacrificing brutality and transgression like ‘Domination’ did. In a way, one could say that this could be a fantastic album to introduce a non-metaller to death metal, due to its bombastic sound and otherworldly atmosphere.
‘Gateways To Annihilation’, while not reaching the sublimity of the first three albums, is the closest that Morbid Angel has yet achieved to returning to the brilliance that defined works such as ‘Blessed Are The Sick’. Heavily influenced by that album, ‘Gateways To Annihilation’ can stand tall along with such previous behemoths, and in occasions reaches those towering heights. Perhaps if this was released in 1992 it would be as critical as those had been; maybe such brilliance was a product of the era moreso than the music itself. Either way, ‘Gateways To Annihilation’ functions neatly as a bridge between old and new, not only for Morbid Angel but for the metal scene as a whole.
We open with the familiar tones of an ambient track, though this is certainly sparser than those we’ve heard in the past: ‘Kawazu’ echoes for slightly over a half minute with what sounds like a biblical plague of frogs or locusts before ‘Summoning Redemption’ storms in like an ancient Sumerian beast of legend. It’s a stunningly dogmatic song even by Morbid Angel standards. Many of the sonic themes of this album are explored on this lengthy first track. First and foremost, we can confirm the alternating styles of Morbid Angel releases: fast and technical alternates with slow and epic from album to album.
When it comes to instrumentation, Morbid Angel excels on this album, particularly on artistic vision. Erik Rutan makes a second appearance on this album, very much aiding the incredibly thick and crushing guitar tone present on this release. The thickness gives the illusion of this album being slower than it is, even at extremely high tempos like on ‘Opening Of The Gates’. The atmosphere is much like that found on ‘Blessed Are The Sick’ grandiose and luxuriously unfolding. However, this release also has the blistering intensity of that album, creating a good contrast with the sludgy aesthetic.
Guitarwork is less dense on this release, and chords drift off moreso than on previous releases. Drumming instead replaces this with extremely pronounced kick drums under slow, sinuous hand grooves. This well may be the apex of Pete Sandoval’s musical skill; witness his unbelievable performance on ‘Opening Of The Gates’ to see just how incredible this man is. Steve Tucker has also improved dramatically as a vocalist, with a significant increase in lucidity and power, fitting the production of the album. Despite the increased emphasis on atmospheric, bludgeoning power, the band is still capable of blasting furiously on songs such as ‘To The Victor The Spoils’.
There’s an undeniable power to this album remniscient to the first three. It seems that a palpable aura of power radiates off this release, that one can hear seeping through on songs such as ‘He Who Sleeps’, with it’s willingly simplified patterns designed to elicit genuine reactions in its listeners. ‘I’ and ‘God Of The Forsaken’ are utterly devastating tracks that remember the best of older death metal while still retaining the modernity of this release. ‘Gateways To Annihilation’ is a truly brutal and assertive album in an age of compromise.
Overall, ‘Gateways To Annihilation’ is the best Morbid Angel album after the mighty trinity. While a number of people have doubts that this band could return after they fell in 1995, they have proven with this album that they could and they have. ‘Gateways To Annihilation’ is brilliant work, and not to be missed by any appreciator of death metal, modern or not.
I'll be charitable to this album, as it falls between the uninspired mess of "Formulas Fatal To The Flesh" and the utter shit pile of "Heretic". And it certainly has moments of greatness to it--Steve Tucker really stepped up to the plate on this album and delivered in terms of becoming a more integrated part of the band with his songwriting skills being far more showcased this go round.
The album on the whole is a far slower and more doom-ridden affair than "Formulas..." was, probably a reaction to the more frantic and blasting approach taken on that one, and it benefits from that. The riffs actually breathe and stretch their wings out, so to speak. Trey's riff arrangements stand out more, with his trademark syncopations coming out clearly and audibly--that is, two guitars playing variations on the one riff, one of his other trademarks. The sense of menace and barely contained chaos is back on this album in spades, with atmosphere and vibe returning in a major way. The dirty, lower-midrange guitar tone is pretty righteous as well, and Messrs Rutan and Azagthoth deliver their usual excellent leads on top of that.
Pete Sandoval gets a paragraph all to his bad self. The drum sound is excellent on this album and you can hear his lethal technique very well with his usual hyperactive style. Of course the kick drums are triggered, and the jaw-dropping inhuman bursts of double kick in my favorite song on this album, "Opening of The Gates" amaze every time despite their very obvious clatter. That also happens to be a faster song with ear-grabbing dissonant riffing, and he gets to shine with a very brief solo near the end of that tune as well. He is still a god and that song alone should show you why.
Overall, as mentioned, the songs are slower on this album, with a very oppressive feel throughout. You feel as though a building is resting on your chest or something when you're listening to this album. You even may have difficulty breathing, the heaviness factor is so profound. Every so often little bursts of speed break through the walls of riffs to lighten things up a little--one of the best songs on the album, "Ageless, Still I Am", benefits from this on its chorus as tantalizingly brief spurts of blast beats keep you jumping up and paying attention. That song has some excellent riffs on the verses, reminiscent of black metal high-end tremolo picking layered underneath the dense 7-string riffs. But I could do without Trey's attempts at black metal screeching on "Secured Limitations", which suffers from rather weak lyrics on top of those annoying vocals. Sorry, Trey, but stick to the guitar and you'll do better.
This is very much a 7-string album, and Trey really exloits the sonorousness of the instrument's lower registers with the slow tempos. I always thought that bands that tune down that low (B flat in MA's case) ought to exploit that to the fullest instead of playing fast riffs that mush out on the lower strings and make a wall of incoherent noise. MA did this and how on this album.
Tucker also came into his own as a vocalist on this album, his harsh shouting and roaring coherent and understandable, yet still ugly. I still will admit a bias towards the mighty David Vincent, but Tucker holds his own on "Gateways..." far better than last time around. His lyrics are also a bit more accessible than Trey's were on the last album.
All in all, this is the best album MA did without David Vincent's Unholy Grail of Death Metal vocals, believe it or not. They showed that Tucker could hang, that they could still write a good album, and I respect them for that. Not quite their best, but still worth a listen or three in the long run, this album is.
This album is bereft of any elements that would catch any partially intelligent being's attention. It all sounds the same, and I was trying my absolute hardest to enjoy this album, but every time I pop it in to give it another chance, the band rejects my attempts. All instruments here are coherent, and maybe that's the issue right there - you realize how overtly BLAND everything is here, unlike in, say, "Covenant."
Maybe my expectations were too high, but something tells me that it's just a pure lack of effort here. If you release 10 songs (with one intro track) after so many years of being a solid band, it's inevitable that you're going to run out of ideas and become somewhat desperate, facing an inevitable decline and not wanting to accept it. However, this is worse than that. Morbid Angel needs to call it quits now. There is not a single standout track, aside from the intro, which one might say is a perfect summary of the album.
There is nothing interesting here, just a bunch of boring recycled songs reeking of an artist's desperation to release another good album, but not read what people are saying about them. After listening to "Covenant" and then this album, I began to feel nauseous - maybe people are right and death metal IS dead. This is hardly even death metal, in fact. The riffing is common, recycled chugga-chugga riffs without any effort or emotion in them, creating absolutely no atmosphere, and never bothering to even attempt to grab the listener's attention. The drums? Blastbeats, standard beats, nothing special. The vocals are essentially the same, but they never stood out in the first place.
This is a sad sign that the end of metal is here.
metalhead in the world! While I have been listening to metal for over 20 years for some reason I have never listened to Morbid Angel. Then a few weeks ago I decided to give them a try so I picked up Blessed Are the Sick (considered by many their masterpiece) and Gateways to Annihilation. I know many have put Gateways down (except for The Punishment Due, of course) so I did not expect much. But, now I can honestly say that this is one of the most magnificent metal albums I have ever heard. Yes, its that good!
The album starts with the evil buzzing intro of "Kawazu" which is a perfect build up for what is to come - "Summoning Redemption". This song is so heavy and brutal that words cannot describe it. The other thing I also notice is that the vocals are incredible. Steve Tucker's death growls are not only intelligible but are quite brutal and evil. Best death metal vocals I have ever heard.
After that great start, one might expect things to go downhill. Nope! Next up is "Ageless, Still I Am". My God, this is just as heavy and brutal! The guitars are buzzing but distinguishable which is another reason that this is not your standard death metal. Much praise to Trey and Rutan. The lyrics are awesome as well. This is not the ordinary satanic praises or slitting guts type. These are well thought out lyrics that are delivered with bad intentions by Tucker - "Your Fathers tried to slay me, Your Brothers fell before me". Brilliant, absolutely fucking brilliant.
The greatness does continue with "He Who Sleeps" with one of the most catchiest choruses ever heard in the genre - "Forgive me Father? I am not your God...". I sang this to myself for a week straight. Next is "To the Victor the Spoils" where the speed is increased. This is where you truly realize how great of a drummer Sandoval really is. Just fast and powerful and Tucker seems to be shoving the lyrics down your throat. The guitar solo is menacing. Another classic song.
"At One With Nothing" stomps its feet right through your skull then hits with you a doom like riff for a breather then it wails like a banshee then back to some more stomping. Try not to headbang to this one. Then there is a guitar lead that is unexpecting and quite unusual but that is some of the brilliance of Morbid Angel. Don't expect the normal course for a metal song. This band is beyond that.
"Opening of the Gates" opens with a slow heavy riff then it hits high gear with some more great vocals by Tucker. "Secured Limitations" is next. This is evil, plain and simple. There are duel vocals with Tucker and I believe, Trey. The duet works because as heavy and brutal as Tucker is, Trey's vocals are shrieking and possessed. He sounds like he's enduring an excorcism. The guitar solos are also incredible in this song, mixing beauty and evil. Another masterpiece.
Then comes the instrumental "Awakening" to let you catch your breath before the two final brutal songs "I" and "God of the Forsaken". "I" kicks you in the teeth and Tucker's vocals cement him as one of the premiere vocalists in this genre. "God of the Forsaken" is a great closer as it a very heavy song and is a bit of a reminder of what this album is about - "For the Voices that summon me, have grown immense..."
I know I seem to be gushing over this album like a 10 year old school girl over the latest In'Sync album but I cannot help it. From the first time I heard this album, I was floored and still am with each listen. The musicianship is top notch. Tucker deserves much more respect for what I consider the best vocals for this genre. I hope we hear from him in the future. As for Trey, Sandoval and Rutan, just perfect execution. The songwriting is original and brilliant and the lyrics are mesmerizing to say the least.
This album is a metal masterpiece and should be praised by more people. Let go of your preconceived notions that post-Covenant Morbid Angel is nothing to look into. Do yourself a favor as a metalhead, buy this album now and experience its greatness.
Morbid Angel's 7th release, keeping with their tradition of each album being released in alphabetical order - G is the latest. This album is seriously heavy stuff, not for the faint of heart.
The guitars are tuned down really low, and the guitar sound is really chunky and crushing. The overall pace of the riffing is quite slow, with heavy power chording crushing you skull, and sometimes fast chugging bringing a bit of much needed pace in places. Trey obviously went more for malevolence than the previous releases, but the riffing does get quite technical in places. Quite a few short, crushing riffs that all string together so cause a chaotic atmosphere, built up upon very dark bass play and monster drumming. The soloing is still trademark Trey Azagthoth, with the squealing leads emerging from the destruction him and Erik Rutan ruthlessly create. The lead play is perfect for such a deadly album, and puts the final piece in this jigsaw of evil. The rhythm play is excellent though, with some excellent riffing made for head banging.
Pete Sandoval is a complete MONSTER on the drums here! He completely amazed we with the speed he can play double bass. I have never heard double bass as fast - he must have been on something! The drum rhythms superbly complement the heavy riffing, and turn the songs into skull crushers. As usual, he does an excellent all round job on the sticks, but the double bass and blast beat speed just astounded me. It's inhuman the way he drums, and I still consider him one of the best drummers in the world.
Steve Tucker follows on brilliantly from his first appearance on Formulas Fatal To The Flesh. Really low, malicious bass play, with killer guttural growling. All these elements combined turn this album into hell on earth! Steve doesn't growl for a great part of the album, as it's much more instrumentally based than lyrically.
This album will rip you open and compress your cranium. Their most brutal album to date, and a trend of growing brutality is obviously showing. Maybe they'll call the next one "Heavier Than The Last One!" If you like really down-tuned, crushing death metal with flesh ripping drumming, yet a great deal of coordination, this album is for you. One of my favorites!