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For every good rule there's an exception. And for late-80s thrash newbies, this album is it. Spectrum of Death was an extremely late addition to the thrash scene. Very bad. Late-stage thrashers tended to run the gamut from proficiently generic to “we figured out how to make the guitar go ‘chug-chug-chug.’” There were so few newcomers that really ended up making a difference in the scene post-1987 that I pretty much straight disregard all of them automatically. Stupid, stupid man, you almost missed out on Morbid Saint.
So this album is a groundbreaking masterpiece, right? No, dummy. It is quite good, though, and very unique nonetheless. I don't like to determine the value of metal by how “evil” it sounds...that's dumb as hell, and people who do couch metal in those terms have the most annoying habit of forgiving shitty musicianship. “It sounds like Satan flushing the toilet, it must be good!” Having said that, this album actually does sound evil. Convincingly evil…more so than about 90% of its third wave contemporaries, and even some of the bigger names, including Slayer. If released five years earlier, Spectrum of Death could have been a Slayer-killer (redundancy is redundant). Yes sir, a metal band with the word “morbid” in its name, “death” on the album, and a zombie on the cover, surprisingly, sounds evil! It's a shock to us all.
“Yeah, well, how's the music?” you ask, salty as fuck. It's really good, and refreshingly competent. Precise even for thrash (especially given what I'm sure was a shoestring production budget), but with enough grit and grime to sound like how that album cover promises it's going to sound like: a really angry cemetery. Like, a cemetery that’s got some real serious beef with the cemetery down the road. I wasn’t expecting much out of this album when I listened to it the first time, and I don’t know if that colored my judgment of how good this album it, but the music is incredibly satisfying. Strong riffs that’d put Dark Angel to shame, and some very, very underrated drumming are the real standouts of Spectrum of Death. I’m not usually a big fan of screeching vocal work, but nothing would fit the music and feel of the album better. Musically, Spectrum of Death hits a sweet spot between thrash and death metal, which is why it stands out against all the other third wave thrash bands. As an added bonus, because Morbid Saint took a few more cues from the then-emerging death metal scenes than from the existing thrash scenes, Spectrum of Death still sounds fresh a few decades later, or, at the very least, not dated. In a lot of ways, this album was probably way ahead of its time. Props.
OK, so no new ground broken, but unique in its own way. Morbid Saint came on to the scene with a voice of its own in a crowded field and managed to put out a rare late-thrash gem. Spectrum of Death is the best thing to come out of Wisconsin since...well, never mind. My name is Big Robot Monster and I approve this album.
I remember the first time I have heard “Spectrum of Death” all the way through; my ears were ringing, and I was left in a complete daze as to what I have just listened to. Never before have I heard anything as intense or heavy in my life at the time, with some few exceptions. My only experience with thrash outside the big four at the time were Dark Angel and Exhorder, and I sought to find more bands and albums similar to them – ones with gritty, raw yet immense production, tons of complex, varying riffs and tempos, generally blistering speeds, pounding blast beat and double-bass drumming, wicked guitar solos, a total lack of constraint, and a keen control of great musicianship and assiduous craftsmanship. Recommended were Demolition Hammer's “Epidemic of Violence”, and Morbid Saint's “Spectrum of Death”, both of which delivered, and have changed the way I listen to thrash ever since.
What we have here sounds like a caustic thrash outpour of early Sadus and Kreator, with a dash of Dark Angel and some death metal influences thrown in. Don't let their teutonic-esque sound fool you, though. They are not German, but rather a rare breed of thrashers from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, an unlikely and humble location for a thrash band to hail from in the late 80's. The chainsaw guitar tone is gritty and piercing, the drums are immense – drummer Lee Reynolds destroying his snare and uses jarring ride cymbals to his advantage, and everything just sounds so vile, grimy, and immensely fucking heavy. Unfortunately Tony Paletti's bass is virtually inaudible. Vocalist Pat Lind sounds like a demonic cross between Mille Petrozza and Darren Travis with his nasily cackle. The screeching monstrous banshee vocals can't help but picture that Eddie-looking monster on the front. The lyrics on songs like “Beyond the Gates of Hell” and “Damien” deal with typical material of hell and Satan, which I never cared for in thrash, but it's understandable all things considered. Overall the lyrics appear to be better written, more complex and less focused on rhyming half the time when compared to other thrash bands dealing with similar lyrical topics during that time period.
Morbid Saint are not as technical as the aforementioned bands Kreator or Sadus. Instead they focus on sheer, raw thrash brutality with an intensity and prose that borders on death metal. That's not to say they do not cram a ton of riffs down your throat, because they certainly do. This is best seen in the song “Assassin”, whose constantly changing riffs, rhythms and tempos carry the song in a sensible, memorable way – while still managing to be absolutely chaotic. This shows a common style of guitarists Jay Visser and Jim Fergades, which stacks and shifts relatively straightforward yet expressive thrash riffs and rhythms, one after another to create hellish vibe of jarring mayhem. They often interject chromatic tremolos, mini-shreds, and frantically skipping pulsed patterns to effectively create a sense of chaos, as heard on the aforementioned song as well as “Scars” and “Crying for Death”. Their solos squeal viciously and shred chromatically – whose stout expressiveness is enough to make Kerry King blush.
“Damien” and “Crying for Death” are the most intense brutes on the album, both of which clock under four minutes. “Damien” is the fastest, showcasing tremolo-picked perfection and incredibly rapid vocals that conjure Slayer's “Jesus Saves” or Dark Angel's “The Burning of Sodom”. “Crying for Death” is one of my all-time favorite thrashers, with the opening packing on many memorable riffs before spiraling into the crushing verse – a massive descending riff, surging tremolos and venomously spat vocals that deal with unrelenting pain. “Scars” has similar crushing intensity, but is much longer as it cycles through its sections of varying tempos several times. The lyrics seem to deal with heroine abuse and overdose.
“Beyond the Gates of Hell” is incredibly anthemic – packing on riffs, multiple expressive solos, tempo changes and borderline tuneful, memorable vocals you could shout along to. Oddly, the chorus is fairly upbeat sounding when compared to the rest of the album; this is not the only time the album seems to have a somewhat more optimistic vibe – the bridge section in “Damien” sounds almost like a declaration against Satan. “Lock Up Your Children” is more uptempo, with its crushing ascending riffs and lyrics that warn against evil saints.
“Burned at the Stake” is an intense little thrasher. It fits in with the rest of the album but doesn't stand out at all. The instrumental title track has a very spooky vibe to it, especially due to the lo-fi production. I feel these two songs are not as memorable as the rest of the album, although they are not bad by any means.
I highly recommend this album for those who love the heavier side of thrash, and enjoy bands such as Kreator, Dark Angel, Demolition Hammer, and Sadus. The band has also released a demo with an identical track order, a full-length demo named “Destruction System” and some relatively new material on their reissue “Thrashaholic”, which are also worth checking out.
You just found the crown jewel of thrash metal gems. The buried treasure that's been waiting under the Metal Mountain for eons and eons. The dark secret that too few have been able to uncover and bear witness to its mind-bending, faith-shattering omnipotence. Only truly worthy metalheads know of the awesome, insurmountable, crippling force that is Morbid Saint's thrash masterpiece, Spectrum of Death.
When it comes to thrash albums there can be a whole plethora of different atmospheres and styles just in the one genre. Metallica and Anthrax show traditional, sometimes mid-paced chuggers while bands like Toxik and Megadeth focus on utter technicality. Then there's Wehrmacht and Dark Angel who exist to destroy you with supersonic armor-piercing velocity or a band like Razor who adopt a more speed metal approach. Of course, then you have brutal thrash bands like Kreator, Sodom, Demolition Hammer, Slayer, and Exodus. Morbid Saint can be best described as a perfect mix of the brutality of Kreator and Demolition Hammer, the speed and technicality of Dark Angel and Megadeth, and the awe-inspiring riffing prowess of Sodom and Exodus.
You, the reader, asks, "Wait a minute.....how can a single thrash band be THAT good, that technical, that brutal, that just plain evil and sound like high profile thrash bands like Megadeth, Sodom, Kreator, Exodus, etc.?"
Well, don't ask me 'cause I really don't know. This album was created to make you submit to its merciless assault and reap your soul in the process. In my mind, this is the single most intense thrash experience any person can endure without the music technically falling into death metal even though it comes very fucking close. Now that I've hyped this album up enough, let's get to down to business and breakdown this magnum opus of THRASH METAL.
Well, as you can tell from my fanboy ranting, the boys from Sheboygan do not disappoint in any department on Spectrum of Death. The production by the legendary Eric Grief is perfect. Every instrument, every vocal, and every effect is spot on. This album sounds like it spawned from Hell and killed its master, Satan. The guitars cut and weave through every song with undeniably insane riffage and an explosive tone. There is not one bad riff or idea on this album. I REPEAT. There are NO fillers, no 2nd rate riffs, and no part of this album that isn't designed to detonate your eardrums save for the eerie Spectrum of Death instrumental before Scars.
The guitar tone on Spectrum of Death is a mix of the chugging, bass heavy on Sodom's Agent Orange and the searing treble of Exodus' Bonded by Blood, to get an idea. Just a complete, well-balanced overload of crushing, ripping force coming from a Mesa Boogie head. Fergades and Visser have paralyzing rhythmic and lead chops and are easily up there in the legendary realm of tightness and cohesiveness as Holt/Hunolt, Mustaine/Poland, or Hanneman/King. Every solo is extremely fast and somewhat technical, but is mainly pentatonic runs and tremolo abuse all over the place. On Beyond the Gates of Hell, you hear Slayer or Rick Rozz of Death-sounding abuse or on Crying for Death and Assassin you got just a breakneck solo full of minor key runs and augmented pentatonics. Think Gary Holt or Eric Meyer/Jim Durkin on a mix of methamphetamine and cocaine. The soloing also reminds me of King/Hanneman on the Haunting the Chapel EP.
The bass is also well-produced and you don't have to listen hard to hear it. That's always a plus! To keep up with Visser and Fergades and the speed demon behind the kit, you gotta have chops and Paletti definitely has them. The bass complements the thunderous drumming (especially on the cymbal crashes) exquisitely, making the rhythm section of this album just another reason why it is so goddamn perfect.
Pat Lind's vocals are in a league of their own. Although there are some reverb effects on his voice at times, the man sounds like he's clearly possessed as he sings. There is something inhuman and supremely eerie about Pat's howls and molds the hellish atmosphere the album displays. The closest comparison I can put on Pat's voice is Mille Petrozza, but more controlled and not so much nails-on-chalkboard at times. Pat spits out the lyrics with so much hate and pure evil, giving everything he has and taking your soul on his journey.
Did I mention the lyrics are awesome? You literally feel like you're being dragged down into the darkest pit of Hell hearing Pat issue your demise in every song. Who am I kidding? Pat never lets up on any of these tracks sitting a top his throne, issuing death warrants and eternal damnation. His strongest two performances are on Damien and Beyond the Gates of Hell, but no effort by Pat is below 110% on Spectrum. "Beyond the Gates of Hell....lurking in the dark....forever I will be......Beyond the Gates of Hell.......".
And now, Lee Reynolds. Good fucking God......how?.....just how....is this guy not famous or forever honored in the realm of the greatest drummers of all time? I have to give this guy his own paragraph for his mind-blowing precision, power, technicality, and pure unadulterated speed. Now I wasn't around back then so I have no idea how popular in the underground this album was, but how is this guy not venerated, at least in thrash circles, as one of the best, IF NOT THE BEST? Hands down, Lee Reynolds is the best musician on this album. Running through drummers in my head, he runs fucking circles around Menza, Benante, Reil, and plenty of others. Visser, Fergades, Paletti, and Lind all have the skill and chops to keep up with Reynolds, which is just plain insane. Reynolds holds forever commanding authority over every song he plays and is CLEARLY the backbone of this band. Everything I've said so far about Visser, Fergades, Paletti, and Lind is null and void without Reynolds. The surgical time changes, the vicious force he puts behind every snare hit, every double bass kick, ingenious fills, and ultra dynamic feel he has is what every listener should take note of when experiencing Spectrum of Death. Just listen to the time changes and RHYTHMS in Burned at the Stake, Assassin, Crying for Death, and Scars. Unreal. His double kicks are thunderous, concussive, and unrelenting and his snare attack is unbelievable and is comparable to John Bonham or Chuck Biscuits. As for a comparison, imagine a brew of Gene Hoglan on Darkness Descends/Leave Scars, Chris Witchhunter on Agent Orange, and Igor Cavalera on Schizophrenia to imagine how Reynolds plays. I can't even single out songs where Reynolds is the best because the whole album showcases him and his undeniable prowess behind the drums. I'll be damned if I didn't give Lee Reynolds the credit he deserves on this masterpiece. He is what all thrash drummers should aspire to be. Impeccable technique, hard hitting, creative rhythms, and stupefying fills. He is not human. I truly believe him and Gene Hoglan are the best in the genre.
I won't delve too deep into the songs, however every single one is a thrash hit. Scars, Burned at the Stake, Crying for Death, Beyond the Gates of Hell, and Assassin are my personal favorites. Assassin might be the greatest thrash song ever recorded. All of them are fast, crushing, and evil. The Spectrum acoustic interlude is also a nice addition to begin Scars. It's up to you to find and listen to the greatness that lies ahead. Brace yourself, maggot.
Fans of Death, Dark Angel, Demolition Hammer, Slayer, Sodom, Kreator, and Possessed will love this album. Kudos to Eric Grief on the production, too. Check out his review of the album on Metal Archives - it's a good read!
Fucking buy or die! The album is a masterpiece.
The mid-90’s will always be remembered as the period when thrash became totally brutal and unleashed. Many albums became legendary and set the rules of the still primitive subgenre. A lot could be mentioned, but the huge influence of Slayer’s masterpiece “Hell Awaits” definitely made a difference from the rest. It’s easy to notice how essential was that record for the consolidation of thrash, when you listen to bands like Morbid Saint. But don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mean at all they were just another group of crazy kids trying to emulate Araya and co. This album proves that young underground bands, disciples of Slayer and other big ones, became serious rivals for their admired heroes with surprising raw metal albums like this, back then.
Yes, this stuff reminds me a lot of Slayer, not only the sinister lyrics. The riffs inherit a considerable inspiration from Hanneman & King, just listen to that complex execution and development during the songs. Absolutely straight, incendiary riffs and hooks that create an astonishing blackened thrash climax. This is one of those old school bands that refused to be simple and predictable, rather ambitious and difficult in their own way as you can notice in the admirable skilled arrangements, advanced song-structures and constant alterations of the riffs. Apart from that, what makes this music so memorable is the completely frantic tempos in each tune. There’s no time for mid-tempos, quiet rhythms or slow breaks, everything here is truly dynamic, fast and loose. Including the vocals, of course. Pat Lind didn’t seem to have any problems with singing so rampant, under pressure, he’s never out of tempo. So all those elements made Morbid Saint reach an spectacular level of brilliance and violence. Tracks like “Assassin” or “Crying For Death” speak for themselves. They’re the finest display of epic merciless thrash, the ideal cuts to headbang with. The instrumental passages show certain difficulty, at times slightly progressive and very rich. This stuff is pretty solid, based on remarkably consistent musica bases, featuring correctly chosen riff variations and rhythm changes that give these numbers that necessary continuity and sense. The result of these guys professional ways is magnificent, like Lock Up Your Children or Scars demonstrate clearly, far from generic thrash of other underground bands of those days. Other tunes, like “Damien” (inspired by 1976 Richard Donner’s horror classic movie “The Omen”) and “Burned At The Stake” are more simple and direct, still outrageous and rough, though. In conclusion, a suprising cult masterpiece of speed, aggression and brutality you’d better listen to, if you’re into thrash.
The passion the band put on their performance is unique, it made this sound completely powerful, plenty of energy and attitude. These musicians aren’t the typical beginners performing a chaotic tribute to the Big of thrash. They had the skills, abilities and talent to make something unforgettable. Guitar lines by the combo Jay Visser-Jim Fergades are precise, focused and strengthful, far from clumsy or uncontrolled, even in the fastest moments of the record. The pickin’ parts aren’t impressive, but their speed and proper definition are not sloppy or mediocre as the common trend back then. The rest of personnel is in the same level. Singer Pat Lind, who might remind you of ex-Dark Angel’s Don Doty, offered a satisfactory vocal work with his grotesque tone and characteristic modulation. A melodic voice would’ve ruined this, so he was the right guy for the job, providing these numbers of wickedness that fit the nature of this material perfectly. Lee Reynolds is one of those drummers whose names will never be specially remembered, but whose contribution was vital for that early phase of thrash, just like Ventor, Tommy Sandmann, Mike Sus, Ron Sumners, etc. He’s quite effective with the double bass-drum beatings and his drum rolls include some grace and imagination, at times. Bass is not there, blame it on the sound engineering and final mix. But the production is actually pretty decent and gave guitars their appropiate presence, texture and dirty distortion, particularly. The double bass-drum parts are luckily loud, not weak, easy to hear. So most of things worked out here, fortunately making this album reach a higher level than other records of that same year, ruined by incompetent production and wrong sound engineers. And lyrics are predictable, obviously evil, giving the group a dark imagery that increased their popularity. Although their words are not that typical or drenched on cliches, if you compare them to what others wrote by that time.
Another masterpiece or pure mid-80’s evil old-school thrash you can’t miss in your collection. These guys rivalized with the Teutonic brutality itself, focused seriously on velocity and bestiality. It’s so unfair Morbid Saint didn’t get as far as they deserved, they were still active until their last show in December 1993, but languished in obscurity during a bunch of years after, along with other unlucky vintage thrash acts. However, the immortal legacy of “Spectrum Of Death” will be always admired, respected and influential among the subgenre fans. As you read these words, I’m sure there’s a lot of thrash maniacs breaking their necks headbanging to this worldwide. You won’t be able to resist the temptation to join them, since the very first seconds of the album. Still skeptic? I recommend you to check it out yourself.
In reality, “Spectrum Of Death” is the same age as me. It was first released back in 1988, and while considered a thrash classic, for some reason Morbid Saint never got big. They are one of those bands that everyone should know, but not many do. Well, thanks to the amazing people at Relapse Records and the recent resurgence in popularity of thrash metal, Morbid Saint is back to the forefront of metal.
Deep from the pits of hell (aka Sheboygan, Wisconsin) comes Morbid Saint. What set them apart from the wave of other thrash metal bands in the late '80s was their truly unique-to-thrash sound. Pat Lind’s vocals were unlike anyone else's. The intense riffing and trade-off solos from Jim Fergades & Jay Visser give them the intensity of Slayer and the technicality of Megadeth. Lee Reynold’s insane double bass and sheer speed would make even Dave Lombardo gasp. Tony Paletti, who was the recording bassist for “Spectrum Of Death”, beefs up the sound with his rhythmic bass lines.
This album is a complete thrash-terpiece! It has everything thrash metal should have: speed- filled riffing, intense solos, powerful drumming, and lyrics that are just pure evil. The final track, “Beyond The Gates of Hell”, stands out to me as possibly their most evil song. The solos at the beginning set up the insanity, while the main riff is just so heavy! And the lyrics, describing a prison-like hellish afterlife, round out the brutality. “Scars” is another song that seems incredibly personal with stories of abortion, suicide, abuse, and rape. Of course there are some thrash standards, like songs about witches (“Burned At The Stake”) and the Antichrist (“Damien”), but this doesn’t take anything away from what is quite possibly one of the greatest thrash metal albums of all time. This is a definite Must Have for any true thrasher! For fans of early Slayer, Venom, and Kreator.
Taken from my review at metal-temple.com (link below)
Years ago, back when I was getting into the genre as a young, naive metalhead, thrash metal was probably one of the most extreme forms of music I had set my ears upon. And like many other people I’m sure, the apex of brutality lay with Slayer, “Reign in Blood” was unlike anything else ever heard, the most brutal and maniacal sounding noise ever put to disc. Then came Teutonic thrash, Sodom, Destruction and the ilk and not long after Morbid Saint crawled out of the abyss of underground thrash and propelled it to a completely unheralded level of brutality and evil that few bands have ever come close to matching. Simply put, “Spectrum of Death” makes “Reign in Blood” and “Pleasure to Kill” sound about as offensive as the fucking Beach Boys.
The fact that “Spectrum of Death” still remains much of a mystery to many casual fans of thrash metal is due to a myriad of various reasons, they had their problems and most notably the lack of distribution and backing of a decent label severely scuppered their ability to get “Spectrum of Death” the recognition it deserved, and is still much of a problem to this day with even shitty bootlegs fetching crazy prices on eBay. If you were to try and pin a sound on “Spectrum of Death” I would say the closest thing would be that it was the fastest, most aggressive and homicidal thrash album never to come out of 80’s Germany, I mean this had about as much in common with American thrash at the time as The Beatles did. I’d maybe even go so far to say that “Spectrum of Death” could be filed in along with the likes of Possessed as a very primitive form of the early stages of US death metal, and it’s understandable when you realise Chuck Schuldiner was a huge fan of the band, bagging them numerous support slots along with Death.
Musically it’s an album that’s basically unrivalled in terms of vicious, bone grinding ferocity. Take the intro to the classic opener ‘Lock up Your Children”, the pulverising double kick and breakneck riffing is just flat out insane; and then you have Pat’s vocals, you’d almost believe that was Pat on the fucking cover, a demon tore up from the bowels of hell spitting blasphemy with an aggression that would rip the flesh from your bones. The shorter songs such as ‘Burned at the Stake’, ‘Damien’, ‘Crying for Death’ are all infested with an absolute mountain of face cleaving riffs and unbridled drum work that’s somewhat comparable to being caught in a furnace of broken glass; they’ll leave you utterly exhausted, blanketed in bloody lacerations and needing extensive neck surgery . If that isn’t a sign of a good thrash album then you’re probably better off listening to “The Black Album”.
With the drumming, it’s the ‘not-give-a-shit’ looseness of the timing that really gives the album that psychotic feel; it’s incessant, imposing and so punishing I’d rate this as the finest drum performance any thrash metal album in history, quite a statement. Similarly the guitar work spewed forth by Jim and Jay is a continual bombardment of saw toothed riffs and incinerating solos flailing wildly all over the place. It’s the longer tracks on the album that really set it alight though, ‘Assassin’, widely regarded as the best on the album has tempo shifts galore ranging from fast to hyper-fast and together with that break at 1:12 it’s enough to cause a seizure. The best thrash song ever? Probably. ‘Scars’ is similar in its execution, inhuman vocals expelled from the maelstrom of riffs and drums; it’s probably fair to say Pat Lind sounds like Mille Petrozza on crack. Oh and then there’s the breakdown in ‘Beyond the Gates of Hell’, a fitting closer to the album that in case there’s anything left standing makes sure it’s levelled to dust by the end of the album. Find me a chorus in the whole genre of thrash with as much wretched conviction as Pat screaming “Beyond the gates of hell, looking through the dark, forever I will be, beyond the gates of hell” and you’re a better man than I. Pure unadulterated evil.
Thrash has never and will never reach this level of ferocity ever again, many have come close, for me only Dark Angel and Demolition Hammer have threatened to usurp the throne of Morbid Saint in terms of sheer unhinged brutality. It’s everything thrash metal should be and unfortunate they never got the recognition they deserved when it mattered, when the album originally came out. What more can I really say about this iconic slab of thrash metal that hasn’t been already? It’s just been rereleased on vinyl by Relapse and CD by the band themselves, so now you’ve got no excuse.
"Spectrum of Death" is the definition of an obscure classic. When it was originally released in 1988 by Wisconsin's Morbid Saint, the album made but a ripple on the growing thrash scene despite having the force to scrape the skin off an elephant's ass. Hearing this for the first time was like having someone rip out and then crack my sternum in two, only to beat me unconscious with large chunks of my bone fragments. Only something so bestial, deadly, poisonous, and dripping with tough-as-nails riffs and destructive snarls could come from an 80s thrash band, and there's no album more vehement that you'll ever experience than Morbid Saint's first and only record. The sinister guitar work is like witnessing a madman slamming his head into a wall until his brain seeps out, the percussion a tornado of sonic booms, and the disgusting grunts of Pat Lind leading this battalion of acid-soaked mayhem. "Spectrum of Death" will floor your ass quicker than you can cognitively possess the impending storm of ravenous, frenzied thrash flying at your face.
Lasting at thirty-two minutes within its eight slices, one would think that this record would be a quick jab of metallic bliss. In and out, simple as that. Sorry kids, but Morbid Saint does not let you go without finishing your meal. And by meal, I mean they literally shovel blazing riffs by the handful down your throat, even before your stomach can process just what in the hell is going on. Listen to "Assassin" and "Scars" and tell me how many riffs there are. Maybe four hundred per song, playing it safe. Now without the exaggeration, these dudes had a goddamn vault of perfect thrash riffs hiding from everyone, and each track salivates pound after pound of fiery licks that demand you bang your head. Technical and cunning, it's impossible to not be completely captivated by the electricity of Morbid Saint's guitar work. You'll despise this album if you hate awesome riffs.
As already stated, Pat Lind lends his shattering rasps to the slaughter and his vocal performance is a seminal portrayal of an ideal thrash vocalist: unique, mighty, hazardous, and critically demonic. Every other facet (drums, bass, solos) falls into place somewhere between the net of cracking guitar work and Lind's viperous strikes, sounding fierce overall. Point is, the men of Morbid Saint knew thrash from end to end, and it didn't hurt that they were fantastic songwriters as well; see the layers of "Assassin" or the seizure-inducing butchery throughout "Damien" if any doubts still persist. Plus the production is rare and raw, a perfect fit for this menacing piece of destruction. You honestly have to hear how intense this is; thrash has never looked so lethal.
There's nothing about "Spectrum of Death" that grants Morbid Saint a crown of innovation, yet everything they touched raised the bar; they gladly stared at the standard of thrash right in its disfigured eye and topped what everyone else was doing with monumental ease. Morbid Saint was never included among Slayer or Exodus as one of thrash's finest guardians, unfortunately, but interest in the record has steadily increased over the years, and now it rightfully resides in a comfortable position on thrash's food chain. Hell, the amount of intrigue even inspired Morbid Saint to fully reunite and finish the onslaught after years of inactivity, and once again, a stray found its way back its dismembered, hellish, bestial excuse of a home. So beautiful. You will never experience totally intensity until "Spectrum of Death" has shattered your eardrums, and you will listen to it. Satan demands it!
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
I am going to keep it straight and simple about why this album is the perfect thrash masterpiece. I will also explain why I am putting this album above any other thrash masterpiece. This album has a raw sound in the guitars and in the vocals of Pat Lind, that it is incomparable to other thrash albums. This album is sharp, fast, brutal and makes you panic as it reaches mach 10 speed. The songs here are NOT short, fast palm muted songs, which last 2 minutes. Instead they are fast, with many tempo changes along with progressive and even epic material. The guitars of Jim Fergades and Jay Visser demonstrate maturity on the guitar as the riffs are mind blowing, complex and the guitar solos’ notes are bent out and played through, unlike playing the notes as fast as possible with a wah pedal. Lee Reynolds plays the skins very well and is the base of the tempo changes that makes this album unlike any other thrash masterpiece.
Songs like “Lock up your Children” “Burned at Stake” and “Damien” are short and fast songs, but leave the listener on the edge of their seat and wanting to split their neck, with the sharp guitar riffs and the buzzing guitars like Sonic the Hedgehog burrowing through tunnels with chainsaws running. They may be short songs, but they are complex and feature tempo changes that never leave the listener bored.
The epic songs on this album are spectacular and I am always finding new guitar riffs or tempo changes that astound me. “Assassin” is one of the best thrash songs I have ever heard. This song is over 7 minutes, but has a great deal of riff changes, drum changes and speed changes. The song is thrashy right from the get go and when Pat Lind enters, it sounds like you are being dragged down to hell. They change the tempo numerous times; 1:12, 1:52 and 2:52. At the 3:45 they change their speed and go on a frenzy with the guitars buzzing and the double bass demolishing buildings. At 4:28 they make the coolest riff on the album. The most memorable part of Pat Lind’s vocal performance can be found at 5:59, where he goes on a rapid-fire rant and at 6:16 where he collects himself and the rest of the band ends the song.
Another Epic song is “Scars” in this song the band manages to make the chorus bombastic, memorable and even epic. The song features dark and ensanguined lyrics and has a great deal of tempo changes that leads to the chorus. This song will pave the way for the 8th and final track “Beyond the Gates of Hell” is the final track and will have the listener in engulfed in the flames of hell. The verses are slow and painful, i.e. Slayer’s “Postmortem” However, the chorus picks up fast and is memorable and powerful. The last verse features hellish voices screaming that will have a lasting impact on the listener and have them begging for more Morbid Saint.
My favorite track on this album is “Crying for Death.” This is the most violent and chilling song on this album. The song begins with guitars that sound like a chainsaw and drums that make you clinch in disbelief that time is short. The introduction to this song is so fast that it sounds like a hurricane in a volcano. Between verses the guitar riffs make you begin to hesitate like a time bomb is on the verge of detonating. The refrain makes you feel like Satan is in your presence and there is no way to rid him.
I would definitely consider this album better than any other thrash album created by troika of Slayer, Dark Angel, and Kreator. You might claim that Morbid Saint did not recreate the wheel and they have no originality. The truth is they took albums by the aforementioned bands and made it faster, more brutal, more powerful and made the listener feel like they were in hell. And how about Pat Lind? Pat Lind’s voice is the closest thing I have heard to someone being demonically possessed. He is definitely consistent throughout the album as he can manage to keep the same vibe with his voice as you are traveling through the legions of hell.
Buy this album now!
I still remember the time when I was hell bent on discovering the best bands out there either by collecting tapes or CDs. One fine day I walk into a record store and find this album with the cover art of a skeletal demon with the band name Morbid Saint and the release known as “Spectrum Of Death”. To be very honest I hadn’t the slightest idea as to what this would sound like. The label known as “Grindcore” kind of forced me to believe that this was either early death or something of a quasi grindcore along the lines of Napalm Death or Repulsion since this was also released in the year 1988, when death metal was still a fledgling genre. I still purchased this and gave it a spin as soon as I got home.
The starting riff was an instant pounder and I could feel a sudden rush of adrenalin the moment I heard it. I said to myself “These riffs are sharper than a razor”, purely because the crunch and hardness were almost unbelievable. When the vocals came in, it felt like screams coming right from the bowels of hell because these were some of the most vicious vocals I had ever heard. These were no low pitched growls or high pitched banshee wails but something that defied all probabilities of falling into a particular category. After listening to the album in its entirety, I was pretty much convinced that these guys must have been one of the hardest thrash metal bands of their time.
My curiosity didn’t end their though. After a few years, when the internet was starting to create a buzz across the planet, I looked up to see if I could get my hands on some valuable information pertaining to Morbid Saint. I was surprised to find that “Spectrum Of Death” had become one of the most sought after albums of modern time and that the group were from Wisconsin and had gathered a huge cult even back then. The situation these days is that this band’s become one among thrash metal followers all time favorites. It’s not too hard to guess why. The music is brutal, faster than Slayer or Dark Angel and the vocals once again are more like a harsher version of Kreator’s Mille Petrozza. The riffs carry that bludgeon of the teutonic style while still managing to retain a decent amount of rhythm similar to the bands of the bay area but without any influence of punk or crossover.
The tracks in here are all headbanging feasts sparing you no time to give your neck a rest. The opener “Lock Up Your Children” has that maniacal main riff and double bass thuds during the chorus likely to leave your ears permanently damaged for all eternity whereas “Burned At The Stake” is a short blast of frenzy with stunning riffwork and screeching solos. The follow up “Assassin” proves that these guys were not all about mindless thrashing as this one has a great deal of mature songwriting on it with an excellent thrash break in between alongside catchy lyrics. “Damien” is perhaps the fastest and thrashiest song on this album with over the top vocals and violently fast drum work. The remaining half of the album carries the same level of insanity with slowing down noticeable on only the 42 second instrumental which is pretty much the throwaway track around while the closer “Beyond The Gates Of Hell” has lyrics that can only be surpassed by the best death metal songwriters around.
Overall, a wonderful treat of an album for thrashers that came out just at the time when thrash was being played the run of the mill conventional style with almost every second band trying hard to sound like either of the acts that comprised the big four of thrash. The production is a bit on the messy side, but ideal for such rawness as a highly polished job may have not helped the band retain the sound they eventually got. These Wisconsin boys have created a magnum opus of sorts and it is highly and I mean highly recommended to all listeners of brutal metal. This is true cult and not the second wind of black or death metal.
Statutory Warning: Neck braces and hearing aids may be required upon listening for the first time.
I'm at a loss for words at how to start this one, because I do believe this album has just BLOWN ME OUT OF MY FUCKING SEAT AND THROUGH A WALL. Goddamn, what a powerful tour de force of Thrashing insanity this is, and they manage to keep the plot and write a perfectly coherent album, too! Morbid Saint's Spectrum of Death is a long revered Thrashterpiece in the underground, and for good reason: it's a completely fucking balls-out, heavy, thrashing wall of noise that will floor you with face-melting solos from the front-lines, crunchy, unstoppable battalions of riffs, all hungry for bloody, ravaged human flesh, drumming that rains down like cannonballs on the enemies, pounding and relentless, the bass, surrounding the enemy like acid-drenched barbed wire, cutting and slicing until there is no tomorrow, and the vocals of Pat Lind serving as the commanding general throughout the whole thing, remorseless and vicious, always on top of everything and never missing a beat.
Phew. Yes, if you haven't guessed yet, this is a good album.
As a Thrash album, this is impeccably good, with songwriting above and beyond the norm, being fast and pummeling, yet also sort of melodic and even epic at times, when they decide to slow down to a mean, gritty stomp (that is still quite fast, just not hyperspeed-fast like most of the rest of the album) after one of those aforementioned face-melting solos. You don't get the feel these guys were just a bunch of punks who didn't know how to play their instruments. No, Morbid Saint were the real deal; talented musicians and songwriters pumping out high-octane slabs of bad-ass stuff that holds the flag of true Metal high and keeps it there for the blazing thirty-two minute endeavor that is this album. Yes, Spectrum of Death is a measly thirty-two minutes, and yet I wouldn't ask for it to be any longer. This album speeds by you so fast that you barely have time to comprehend what you just heard, and yet, you find yourself loving every minute of it. At least, you will if you've got any Thrashing bone in your body. Stand at attention!
The songs here are all fast, brutal and loaded with youthful, angry vigor. There's no real point in talking about all of them individually, because they are all good, no exceptions. "Lock Up Your Children," "Buried at the Stake," "Crying for Death"...there are too many good songs here, all of them loaded with jackhammering riff patterns and drums that will make even the most hardened metalhead's head explode right there, and that isn't even mentioning the mammoth duo of longer tracks in the form of the riff-monster "Assassin" and the more calculated epic of the seven minute journey through Hell "Scars," which is my pick for best song on this thing. They even had to put in a calm, melodic intro in the middle of the onslaught to make sure the listeners didn't all fucking die before it was over. That about says it all for Spectrum of Death, one of the finest monuments to Heavy fucking Metal on this planet. Get this if you like the genre in the least, you will not be disappointed.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
In the late 80's there was a record. A record that defied the laws of physics and was, for a fact as stated by many famous physicists, heavier than lead and faster than a speeding bullet. This record was known as Spectrum of Death. Released by Shaboygan(ian?) band Morbid Saint in the venerable year of 1988, we are greeted instantly with the full force and fury of "Lock Up Your Children".
From the start, you will notice that this album doesn't have a very varied train of thought. It's plan of attack is "kill, kill, kill" and rarely ever strays from this. Even the production is its own one-minded beast. Anyways, the first song on the record is surely one of the best here, if not one of the best thrash songs ever written.
Vocalist Pat Lind is definitely the first thing you will notice on this record. Even though the many other reviewers for this album refute the similarity between his vocals and Mille Petrozza's of Kreator, it is obvious that the only difference is reverb drenching and a tad more growl in Pat's hellish voice. In fact, the whole band itself seem to take influence from Kreator, and teutonic thrash in general. That's where the name of this title comes from, for the semi-curious.
Now, onto the album.
The guitars, easily the most prominent of instruments here, are astounding in their reverb-y and chuggingly heavy glory. The fret-wizardry of Jim Visser and Jim Fergades permeates throughout this record, and it is more than a good thing. They weave tales of vicious ferocity that would cave even the strongest man's head in. Pretension aside, the guitars are pretty cool. The bass is fairly obvious to my obviuosly expert ear, but it isn't too interesting beyond being a root-noter.
The drums are...just...wow. When I first heard this album, the slightly weak keeping-in-time abilities of the drummer made me a little worried, but it must have been the first-time-in-studio jitters. He is just pure aggression, which is the primary focus of this album, as I've said at least five times earlier.
The songwriting is perfectly concise, shifting between the thrash monster of the opening track, to the grudgingly heavy cut "Assassin" we are treated to a purely maniacal songwriting genius, most likely coming from the guitarists and vocalist. The greatest thrash chorus, and overall song in general, comes in the form of the first track and just simply astounds me every listen. The almost liquid transition is just thrash gold.
HEAVY. Meaty. Grinding. These are the words that come to mind when you say "production" with Morbid Saint in mind. The guitar tone is set in stone and never releases your throat as it pummels you deeper and deeper into the album with the finishing blow of "Beyond the Gates of Hell". The drums are slightly high in the mix, with the classic snare sound of the late 80's being very prominent. The bass is, for lack of a better phrase, invisible behind he guitars. The most prominent thign here are the vocals, fantastically done by Mr. Lind, of course.
So, to conclude this whole...thing, Morbid Saint revolutionized the thrashing wheel with this slab of evil, grindy, thrashing metal. For fans of early Kreator, Sodom, and serious/evil thrash or black metal in general.
‘Spectrum of Death’ is no longer an unheard-of, overlooked metal album from the past, but a perfect embodiment of 80s thrash-metal. Over the past five or so years, it has been garnering so much well-deserved acclaim in the metal underground that I feel critics ought to get rid of the album’s ‘Most-Underrated-Album’ tag to something along the lines of ‘Iconic-Thrash-Metal-Album’. It really doesn’t make sense now by calling it ‘underrated’ because quite frankly the band’s popularity has risen so immensely that wherever you seek help for thrash-metal recommendations, Morbid Saint’s ‘Spectrum of Death’ will be the first to be mentioned. I can draw parallels with another band, Witchfinder General, which found tremendous fan-support only years after the band became defunct. Posthumous band worship isn’t an uncommon occurrence these days. Like many other metalheads, the lackluster of contemporary thrash metal drove me on a quest to go back into the past and unearth some of the finest masterpieces in this genre. I rank ‘Spectrum of Death’ the best thrash metal album in the twenty years since its unholy conception.
With ‘Spectrum of Death’, Morbid Saint doesn’t reinvent the wheel of thrash metal, but it is its simplicity and its sheer adherence to the true essence of the genre that makes it such a brilliant album. I can sum it up in two words – Fast and Brutal. Now you may think that these two often spoken words are synonymous with most thrash releases, but trust me, you haven’t heard ‘fast’ and ‘brutal’ if you haven’t listened to this album. It’s fucking fast and fucking brutal. What else do you need in a thrash album? Morbid Saint perfectly combines two seemingly different styles (European and Bay-area) of thrash metal into their own brand of thrash. You’ll know what I mean when you hear Pat Lind’s vocals kick in when he asks you to ‘Lock up your children’. The vocals are raspy and bear a certain similarity to Mille’s from the early Kreator albums. It is by no means a mimicking of vocal-styles; Pat is in a league of his own. In my opinion, his evil rapid-fire screeches are some of the best in the genre. The vocals are perfectly complemented by the rest of the band. The musicianship is astoundingly brilliant. The guitar-riffs are so fucking precise with its execution, that it creates this sonic thrash onslaught second to nothing you would’ve ever heard. That is coupled with Lee Reynold’s amazing drumming, which again is ‘fast’ and ‘brutal’.
Some people have commented on the production by calling it below-par. I will have to disagree with those comments because I feel the production is spot-on with the rawness, the entire mix and the whole 80s vibe that you can feel once you play this album. The rawness is a very important ingredient which completes this album. Imagine ‘Spectrum of Death’ being produced in today’s world. Doesn’t sound too enticing now does it? That’s what I mean by the production being spot on the album. Like I said earlier, it captures the true essence of the 80s thrash metal genre.
I refrained from dissecting each song up and praising it to death because that would tempt you to listen to certain tracks first. It wouldn’t do justice to these 32 odd minutes of relentless, furious thrash because it deserves a full 360 degree spin on your player. From the addictive intro riff of ‘Lock up your children’ to the neck-snapping ‘Scars’ to the hellish screams at the end of ‘Beyond the gates of hell’, the album encompasses whatever there is to hear in thrash metal. You could call Morbid Saint, a one-hit wonder or a band that lost its way due to unfortunate circumstances, but there is a no denying the fact that when it came to delivering the goods, they were fucking fast and fucking brutal. This is going to remain a timeless classic thrash metal album.
And lock 'em up very tight 'cause you do NOT want them to be around when you put this album on! Children and small woodland animals are known to explode in the presence of the mighty Morbid Saint! What we have here is ass-kickery of the highest order, hell this even beats Schizophrenia for sheer brutality! But what makes Morbid Saint so good?
Morbid Saint hails from the American Midwest. Sheboygan, Wiscaahnsin (hehehe) to be exact. You certainly wouldn't expect thrash from there, let alone one of the best thrash albums ever! This album has riffs in spades, not to mention the monster that is Pat Fucking Lind. To top it all off, there's not a single bad cut. Really.
First and foremost, Pat Fucking Lind. I swear to God, this man is a real demon. Alright, there are effects on his vox (mostly reverb/echo,) but his voice still sends chills down my spine every time I put this album on. His growling is different from what the Floridians came up with, Lind's growls are more high-pitched, borderline black metal even. The vox is absolutely vicious on the faster songs like "Lock Up Your Children" and "Damien." On slower songs the vox seem to lose the ferocity and that is a real downer.
The riffs are another highlight. The riffs herein are of no mere "Angel of Death" brutality, they kick pretty much any riff you throw at them except of course Dark Angel's, but that's another review. Listen to the first riff of "Lock Up Your Children," yep the riff before they kick to high gear, that one riff pretty much clocked me in the colon and made me its bitch. I swear, if that riff was human I'd marry it! Then comes the verse riff, oh dear lord! And then the chorus riff, Jesus Christ! Whoa, better calm down. In all seriousness, the riffs in that ONE song alone is worth your money. But good riffs are not only found on the first track, Morbid Saint can actually make an entire album of good riffs. I repeat, an entire album of good riffs! And you thought they were a myth, no sir! One of the best examples of those fine riffs is in "Damien," the verse riff. Hell, the whole damn song is a good example.
The production here is top-notch, it's brutal but you can still hear the bass (my what a novelty!). The drums are pulled forward and the guitars are front and center. The tone is absolutely awesome, thanks Griff! The bass is really audible, you can actually listen to them for the entire length of the album, but why would you? The vox, as I said before, has some effects on them but that only adds to the awesomeness, plus the vox are mixed real loud so the instruments won't overpower it.
Yep, what we have here is essential brutal thrash from America's Heartland. This is one anomaly that I would love to have continued. It's really that good, too bad they only made another record (and it wasn't even released publicly!) I highly recommend tracking down a copy, trust me, it's worth every cent.
Holy shit! Here we have a total German-inspired thrash metal album from U.S.A.! The power of this group is unbelievable and even if the production is not that great, we can really taste the goodness of pure thrash. The first thing that came to my mind is "Kreator". The vocals are very similar to those by Mille or even more screamed, while the music can be seen as an Extreme Aggression influenced one.
The first track features good tempo changes, also during the fast parts. A perfect sledge hammer song, directly in the stomach. “Burned At The Stake” is even faster and more pissed off with hyper fast, tremolo picking style solos. “Assassin” is a 7 minute thrash attack with always great bass drum work and raw guitars. As always the solos are in Slayer direction with changes on the scale range while the following “Damien” is filled with early death metal influences. Brutal, schizophrenic and blasting.
“Crying For Death” is the most violent track…total drums madness with lots of breaks where we find the only the drum sound to destroy everything. The guitars sound here reminds me Darkness Descends album and even the song structure is more focused in those directions. Twisted. After the instrumental title track, it’s time for “Scars” to destroy my stereo. Anyway after the stunning “Crying For Death” now it’s like listening to Bon Jovi…
The final “Beyond The Gates Of Hell” shows whistling solos and fast bass drums in the beginning, followed by a pure Slayer mid tempo. The refrain is great, one of the best here supported by high dose brutality by a group that surely deserved more attention in thrash metal. Astonishing album.
Now, much like my metal breatheren, I am always on the hunt for new music be it old school obscure bands that made the majors seem like wimps or genres which I have not yet listened to and am intrigued and intrested how it might sound while keeping an open mind. Well fuck the later for now because whenever I'm in the mood for some Thrash metal I'll pop in the usual Teutonic, Canuck, Bay Area, or the occasional UK Thrash and let the riffs start flowing. Quite lately I've been running low on the Thrash guage and needed something to fill up on, so I did my research and came across this.....
I wish there were more bands like this, but then that would take away from Morbid Saint individuality and place in the Metal universe. They may not be famous, but goddamn they kill and that's all that matters when it comes to this style of music. I mean when ones like to mention really violent Thrash one automatically thinks of the usual suspects such as Dark Angel, Kreator, Vio-lence, Razor etc. But judas goat almighty....this is fucking LETHAL. This is way more agressive than what those bands were putting out at the time and at the height of Thrash metal's reign. Not to forget this is also right before Demolition Hammer and Merciless(Swe) just started putting out their first handful of demos. No, not agressive, just the sound of a thousand nuclear missles filled with plutonium annihilating every in sight. Hell, quite literally this is the sound of Thrash metal hell! I mean you're not going to come across Thrash like this every day of the week. Vocalist Pat Lind is doing his best Mille impression and he goes for broke making Mille himself sound like a pansy in some parts on "Spectrum Of Death" giving certian lines and parts that extra force, that extra "umph" in his vocal shredding. At some points he reminds me of a rabid mutated pitbull waiting to chase you down. Both guitarists Jay Visser and Jim Fergades should have been kings in the Thrash sector of the Metal universe but unfortunately got overshadowed by certian 'others'...I'll leave you up to decide whom I'm referring to...but their riffs are the ones that sound like razors cutting through your flesh. I wouldn't be too surprised if their fingers were bleeding for 5 days straight after recording this album. Bassist Mike Chappa is perfectly sandwhiched between the two providing that extra throbbing bass lines. Lee Reynolds drumming on this is mind-blowing....this guy needs to be charged with assault and battery against his poor drumset. Even down to the production, it's damn near perfectly mixed.
Ever wanted to know the musical equivelency of Joe Pesci taking a baseball bat to your skull? You want to be castrated with silver fishing wire and have your balls handed to you on a paper plate? Take a listen to cocain-flavored cuts such as "Lock Away Your Children", "Crying For Death". Want to hear how to perfectly meld German Thrash Metal with old-school DM? "Burned At the Stake" is the combo of Possessed fistfucking Hobbs Angel of Death/Exumer with some excellent Slayer-esque breaks. Killer stuff. "Assassin" starts off with one of the best headbanging inducing riffs ever heard in the Great Lakes area.... after a crunchy "Raining Blood" worship part it soon morphs into some demented fucking riff worship. "Damien" is completely schizophrenic-inducing madness...while "Beyond The Gates of Hells" is downright evil sounding! The title track is a mere instrumental that doesn't detract anything away from this album which would be kinda hard to do because what Morbid Saint has accomplished here is really a milestone of blackened Thrash of the highest caliber.
And you know what? I even enjoy the Eddie worship-like album cover. Not too many bands can get away with that.
This album sounds like a pure combination of teutonic and bay area thrash.
It has these harsh vocals which get close to the death metal style, like Kreator for instance, and the riffing is fast, raw and heavy like Sodom or Destruction but has a feeling of Dark Angel and Vio-lence.
'Lock Up Your Children' opens with heavy opening riff at pretty fast tempo which sounds very crude. The chorus is catchy somehow with his simple lyrics and destructive riffing, it keeps on a very lethal feeling for the whole time and never letting up. The lead guitar sounds note to note like Slayer's 'Reign In Blood' with
it's unclear direction and extreme changes within the scale range which makes it sounds rushed, raw and destructive as well. Great opener, and also the best track of this album.
The rest of the tracks sounds very chaotic and aggressive as well. There aren't bad tracks, each track has it's own raspy riffs and killer lyrics which makes it sound like a pure piece of destructive thrash with dabs of old school death metal.
However I don't feel like giving this album more than 76, because this is really what it's deserves. It's a good album for sure, but it doesn't groundbreaking or even barely unique. It does what dozens of other thrash albums does, and does it pretty well.
If you don't own this album, yet you still call yourself a thrasher, then hang up your leather and burn your Testament records because this is the album that separates the men from the boys. Every time I hear a modern band of wimps calling their music thrash I always turn to Spectrum Of Death. Every time I see posers acting like they know what's what, I always turn to Spectrum Of Death. Why?
I will tell you why.
This album...this fucking album, is a classic piece of extreme thrash metal. Think about that for a second. What other albums do we give the 'classic' title? Reign In Blood, Darkness Descends, Pleasure To Kill to name a few. Well let me tell you now, I am putting Morbid Saint's 1988 debut album; Spectrum Of Death, amongst those masterpieces of metal.
The first thing that will probably hit the casual listener, is the production. Its harsh, raw and piercing. For us serious thrashers, low grade production is something we have come to love. It acts as a deterrent to those who like the kind of metal that is too clean for filthy production and also means that there is no way that the band will be trying for a hit with production so low key, therefore, it must be coming from the heart. Unless of course the production is actually terrible. Luckily this isn't.
Eric “Griffy” Greif's production job is absolutely perfect for this band.
I love every aspect of the sonics of this album. From the razor wire guitars of Jay Visser and Jim Fergades, the cement mixer bass grumblings of Mike Chappa, Lee Reynolds terrifying, pulsing drums to the unique and throat shredding vocals of Pat Lind, its just pure brilliance.
Each song is amazing. There is not one section of this album that I would skip, the classic opener, Lock Up Your Children is the only way to be thrown into this pit of raging metal, headfirst. Every track, from the brutal beginning to the final death throws of Beyond The Gates Of Hell will leave your jaw hanging with shock upon your first listen and your head banging by the second and every other listen after that. Only during the 40 second instrumental title track; Spectrum Of Death are you allowed to rest. After that, the pain continues.
There is no point going into a track by track review, as every track is a killer dose of lethal thrash. Each track features riffs by the bucket load, electro-shock guitar solos and lead breaks that will send shivers down you ruined spine. Drums and bass so heavy that you cannot help but be floored with the raw power. And vocals so awesome that any hope of mercy will fade to nothingness. The almost inaudible lyrics are also fantastic, go and learn all of them and you will find out what Morbid Saint are all about. Its a sick place, let me tell you.
There is also another reason for me not giving you a track by track review. That is because of one track that puts all others (not just on this album but in the entire metal genre) to shame, and that's saying something with an album of this quality. This track is so brutal, epic, technical, heavy, fast and memorable, that I will dedicate a small paragraph to it.
Assassin. Put it on now and turn it up...loud. Go on, do it. This is a seven minute slab of absolute metal heroics. There are hardly many songs out there that can stand up to this monster. The whole song is a highlight, its almost an album in itself. A classic album at that. Which riff is better? The intro riff? The one at 1:12 or the one at 1:52? (Check that drum change!). What about the double bangers at 3:43 and 4:29? Lets not forget my personal favorite, the total stomper at 5:52 with the rapid fire vocals? Each of those riffs could be songs in themselves, they are that good. This song will assassinate you, no pun intended. Its one of the best songs ever written. Seriously.
Anyway, I have reviewed this album as best I could, its been hard because its so good that I cannot praise it enough. The rest is up to you, listen to it if you already have it or hunt it down if your pathetic life has not yet been blessed by Morbid Saint. They have a Myspace now so go check that out as soon as you can.
Spectrum Of Death - one of the most underrated and brilliant albums ever written. Now onto Destruction System. It's almost as good...
“…kill the white rabbit before it kills you…”
Ravaging. Merciless. Bloodthirsty. Wisconsin’s Morbid Saint constructed a filthy, flame-blackened thrash machine, dipped its spiked tires in liquid curare, welded twin scythes to the hood, eviscerated it of its wimpy factory exhaust and jammed a mike stand onto the accelerator, letting it roar angrily into downtown Bay Area thrash. White-eyed fans of Defiance, Viking, and even Testament didn’t have a chance. Germany would fare a little better (and you should have seen the ramp).
Unfortunately, the quintet unleashed their debut to the fanfare much like an event taking place at four in the morning on Easter Sunday in the middle of the Yukon, therefore most pedestrians didn’t have to worry about the lp’s stampede. Instead of ripping through the underground’s main drag, it detoured down side streets and back alleys where one will find those fans shuffling through the debris in search of ambiguous releases buried under the surface. While the date was near perfect, it was the distribution-lacking label, the microscopic Avanzada Metallica, they signed with that caused them to relish obscurity. Licensing the eight-songer to the rather crummy Grind Core label in ’92 seemed like a good thing, but still didn’t wave flags for the band. If, say, Combat had gotten its hands on this, I would bet my brother Spectrum of Death would be pulling confetti out of its hair even today.
I bring Germany to the forefront ‘cos Morbid Saint's sound follows a recipe of the country’s deadly thrash din: the ripping Mille/Kreator-Exumer-Assassin-Destruction-Angel Dust vocal vehemence, the ferocious riffage, scalding solos…emphatic bands that could spit and snort just as loudly as these Americans, but that’s not saying Dark Angel and Agent Steel couldn’t stand stolidly in their wake.
Hellish, scraping vocals of Paul Lind and a rhythm section that can derail trains collide within a one-dimensional production expected from a near-DIY release; nevertheless, the brew infuses this slab with inherit flesh-shucking power songs like the lethal “Burned At the Stake”, inaugural stomper “Lock Up Your Children”, and deliberately punishing “Beyond the Gates of Hell” hold like signs at an anti-abortion rally. There’s no stopping side two’s speeding opener “Crying For Death” and its thick wall of septic thorns that will shear the life from your body if you choose to stand in its path. The speechless title cut levels with pummeling double bass fortifying more moderate paces, but aggression doesn’t leave the scene of the slaughter. “Assassin” roars to life with rhythmic and tempo changes galore, meanwhile “Scars” is a touch more methodical with its shifting structures, yet doesn’t pull any punches.
Besides the mix, there is really no weak spot on the lp except that maybe, and I mean maybe, Phil Lind sounds too much like his German counterparts, as well as, say, Darren Travis of Sadus and Martti Payne of Metal Onslaught for people. Believe me, I’m not complaining. Good luck finding this on cd.
(Ed. - believe it or not, now on iTunes.)
Seriously. The album just doesn't get the credit it deserves.
I'd also go so far as to say that Pat Lind is one of the best thrash vocalists I've heard. Seriously. Just totally fucking catchy, and totally fucking badass. Most importantly is how well Morbid Saint can write a damn good thrash riff. And not only are they incredibly catchy and badass, but totally vicious as well. This is shit you just can't help but bang your head to.
Anyways, Morbid Saint have been compared to many different bands, and you really can't pinpoint a specific band that could tell you exactly what these guys sound like. Like Boris said, a bit of an American-sounding Destruction with some bay area influences thrown into the mix, namely bands like Dark Angel. As a matter of a fact, Dark Angel is probably the best comparison, what with often chaotic wall of riffage that acts like a hammer bashing your brains in. (But that's a good thing for metal to do. Remember that *NFlames) And while they don't shy away from showing their bay-area influences, they really do have a very unique and original sound all their own, which I'd best describe as a more melodic Dark Angel with excellent death/thrash vocals. Enough with the comparisons...
Anyways, the album is consistently thrashy throughout with no oddball tracks in the mix, except for the title track that isn't even a minute long, This, however, is a good thing, especially considering how perfect this album is. You just wouldn't want anything added or taken away from this LP. Standout tracks would include "Lock Up Your Children" (and excellent opener, really showing their Dark Angel influences in terms of atmosphere and drumming, but also with quite a bit more melodic style), "Crying for Death" (best described as a drop kick to the balls. Again, that isn't a bad thing for metal to do, *NFlames), and "Beyond the Gates of Hell" (excellent album capper which showcases their more melodic style the best). Hell, all the songs are great, but the best song is...
"Assassin". The opening riff is one of the catchiest, most head-banging riffs you'll ever encounter, and the song doesn't let up. This is where Morbid Saint really get to show off their songwriting abilities, as the song clocks in at about seven minutes, never lets up, and has so many goddamn twists and turns it'll make you shit your pants with exhilarated glee while, at the same time mind you, beat the living fuck out of every living thing in the general vicinity. It's just that awsome, what can I say?
Needless to say, this is one of those long lost thrash classics people forgot about, but is essential to any thrash fans collection. Well-written, catchy, great vocals, and fun as hell. If you don't have this album, get it immediately. Stop reading this review. Please, stop fucking reading this, fag, and get to downloading this piece of greatness this instant.
OK - so I am the producer of SPECTRUM OF DEATH...does that mean that if I say it is one of the greatest thrash metal albums of all time that I am patting my own friggin' back? Not necessarily...
It was this very page of Encyclopaedia Metallum that coaxed me into re-investigating an album that I had not heard in years, after reading the three brilliant reviews of it (thanks, metal brethren - I salute your wisdom). In 1996, a former friend of mine named Joe King, who was looking after lots of my music career shit while I was in Europe, stupidly allowed my beloved possessions to be carted off to the dump, and I lost much of my career's memorabilia, including copies of master tapes, demos, photos, etc. (I hope that asshole, who went underground after that - lucky for him - rots in hell) So, anyway, I fucking had to go on the net a couple of weeks ago to buy a Grind Core copy of MORBID SAINT from Wherehouse Records in California. Do I mind, sitting here in 2003, having to pay for a c.d. I produced almost 15 years ago? NO - it was worth every penny, pence, shilling, euro, scrap of bread, etc. to get hold of this nearly flawless work of thrash history.
When I made the album with the band, we were trying to be as raw, dirty, evil and true to the group as was possible. Ultra limited budget. Very few guitar overdubbing and drums that are nearly precision-perfect and unbelievably they are almost all "first takes". I tried for kickdrum cannons, not the cheesy, clicky high-end kicks prevalant at the time (mostly coming out of a certain Florida studio, popular that year) - this is evident on CRYING FOR DEATH, for instance. That's not a fucking drum machine - that's his feet creating a sonic cauldron of explosions. Vocally, there is a lot going on if you listen carefully - backwards use of the 2" tape (ahh the days of tape!), effects, evil voices that underpin the main vocal, strange digital delay timing and panning, etc. Though it is raw, there is actually much more going on than is at first obvious...try and listen to this with headphones for the ultimate in brain surgery and demonic possession at the same time!
Unfortunately my life at the time was chaotic, I was an egomaniacal idiot then, and I couldn't help MORBID SAINT more than a few gigs opening for DEATH, who I managed until 1992, and hooking the master tapes up with a Mexican label, Avanzada Metalica (released by them in 1990) - they in turn did a deal with Grind Core who put it out in the USA with almost no fanfare in 1992. If you possess a copy of this brilliant and one & only release by this fantastic band, you are a rare and lucky son of a bitch!
Is it original? Hardly. Does it take thrash metal in a direction it had never been at the time (late 1988)? Not really. Is it groundbreaking? Probably not. BUT...what it IS is a brutal, honest, pure and perfectly executed evil thrash metal masterpiece by a band who were not posers, but sincere and dedicated masters of mayhem in a State that gave us all Jeff Dahmer and Ed Gien. Where a fridge full of deer guts is a common site along with the Pabst Blue Ribbon. Listen to ASSASSINS - when that change comes in at approximately 1.12, I always feel as if a metallic army of flesheating killers is storming down the hill in front of me, and that's the exact feeling that I had while staring at them playing it through the window from the control room into the studio. The opening part of CRYING FOR DEATH is so fucking fast and heavy that drummer Lee Reynolds could easily have had a duel to the death with Slayer's Dave Lombardo. When those children's voices (or is it??) creep in to your aural cavity towards the end of LOCK UP YOUR CHILDREN, chills come down my spine (even though, of course, I know for a fact that it was really just us making those noises...uh, or at least I recall...). Or the strange voices in DAMIEN. Or...well, you get the picture. This c.d. should sit along with the other thrash gems and it is a fucking shame someone doesn't re-release it just for the goddam sake of it.
Hmmm.....that gives me an idea....
p.s. thanks for inspiring me to re-discover this - even if nobody else ever reads my notes here, it was great to just think about the mighty MORBID SAINT and the making of the glory that is SPECTRUM OF DEATH, for just ten minutes, and Encyclopaedia Metallum gave me that opportunity
Damn, this is some fucking awesome thrash right here... never mind the album cover, this is not Aces High or anything (not that there would be anything wrong with that). This sounds like a more American-sounding Destruction, or maybe even Exumer... but again, more bay-area sounding, like an Exodus, except with Schmier-esque vocals combined with riffs that are a pummelling version of Cracked Brain meets Eternal Devastation. This is some fast fucking thrash and it's a real goddamn banger all the time.
The absolute fucking highlight. There's one part of Assassin that is just so insanely, incredibly overwhelmingly thrashy that I cannot begin to process it correctly without going into cranial convulsions. Oh my fucking Jesusoidal trashcan!!! Imagine the best of Destruction thrown together into one six minute Orgy, and then make it even better, complete with Unconscious Ruins intro gone berserk!!
More highlights... "Scars" has that wicked middle break, and "Lock Up your Children" is a fast, furious and fun opener and "Beyond the Gates of Hell" has a bit of a Possessed "Death Metal"-demo sound to it.
If you like thrash - and who doesn't?? - these guys must be checked out. As good as Bonded by Blood or any of Destruction's output, with a slight taste of Exumer as well. Also, Hypnosia kinda sound like them, though the Pleasure to Kill influence isn't quite as strong as that of Destruction. Indispensable thrash. Especially for ASSASSIN.