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As another of Morbid Angel’s raving fans, it seems almost obligatory that I listen to everything they have to offer, including the atrocious Domination (which I happen to own, so sue me.) These two tracks had been floating around my play list for a few months now (thank god for SoulSeek), and they seemed to always be near the top. Hell, at one point I was listening to them every day. That is how badass they are. Classic fucking Morbid Angel at it’s best, even if it isn’t exactly what you would expect from them.
This being one of the first releases widely available from MA, it has somewhat raw production compared to its contemporary cousins Scream Bloody Gore and Seven Churches, but still miles above your average black metal production. Almost everything is audible in the mix, the only notable hider being the bass, although this was to be expected. Has there ever been a time where you expected to hear the bass over the guitar in any death metal album (short of Atheist of course)? No! This is a genre dominated by guitars, and anyone who expects otherwise hasn’t been listening very hard or long. But I digress… The guitar tone here is fantastic. It manages to achieve the perfect mixture of crunch, hiss, and chug without making too much roar, wail, or fart. No overdone chorus or reverb either. Just plain badass. This is what I wish to achieve some day with my own band, but it seems a lost cause. No manmade tone can match what MA has done here. Hell, I’ll even go as far to say that this surpasses Altars of Madness in terms of guitar tone. It is just that good. The drums stand out perfectly, and Wayne Hartsell is no slouch. Spot on perfect, with the adequate mix of blasting, fast double bass, and fills. No filler here, just perfection.
As for David’s vocals, they are a bit different that what you what expect for the time. Perhaps he was just trying to find his style, or just doing what felt right at the time. Whatever he had in mind, it is fucking perfect for these two tracks. Closer to his “Altars” style than his “Covenant” style, with a bit more black metal tinge to them. They exude pure evil. They make me cringe at every line. Often times, they make me cry myself to sleep and wet my bed.
As for the lyrical content, they are some of the best written death metal lyrics I have ever heard. Although I normally don’t even pay attention to the lyrics (I consider myself a riff man), this single is so great it made me look them up so I could sing along. Very well written, and even match the riffs perfectly. They just seem to fit.
Now for what you have all been waiting for. THE RIFFS. MY GOD THE RIFFS. THEY FUCKING RULE. Every single riff here is catchier than AIDS. Every one. Nothing disappoints, even the riffs that would normally just be trashy filler or throwbacks to extend a songs length for other bands. They are one with my spirit. They are so ungodly great that I cannot help but headbang to every single one of them. Not only that, they are quite varied as well, from melodeath style to old school Floridian style. OH GOD THEY ARE SO GREAT! Even the solos are topnotch. Fast, catchy, and technical, just as they should be.
Ok, so I may just be another Morbid Angel fan boy with nothing better to do than endlessly fellate them, but this is an absolutely essential piece of early death metal. Required listening in any form you can obtain them in, be they “Blessed are the Sick” or this single. Seriously, go download this, because you will never be able to find this in any store. You will not be disappointed.
If you thought nothing was rawer or more brutal than the first two Morbid Angel albums, try listening to their demos. Holy hell this is nasty. The Thy Kingdom Come demo features two songs off Blessed are the Sick and one off Altars (though you can get the other three unreleased songs online if you look hard enough) in a much more unpolished, but generally complete form. The songs are very similar to the versions that appear on the albums, but are notably bass heavy and highlight the guitar solos and vocals a bit more (all of the guitar solos are very audible and the vocals, though just as harsh as on the studio albums, are a bit easier to understand). This demo is obviously most interesting to fans of Morbid Angel, as it shows that the band was just as powerful in 1987 with shittier recording equipment as they would become at the end of the decade with their full-lengths. Since there aren't any songs on here that you couldn't find on one of their studio albums with better production, this isn't really an essential find, but for the dedicated fan, it might be nice to hear the stripped-down versions of some of their favorites.