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Raw, sloppy, primitive, and awesome - 92%

UncleMeat, June 29th, 2009

It goes without saying that what Sepultura has turned into over the years is not only disgraceful to the name of a once-was-great band, but really just metal in general. However, this is not a rant concerning the shit-eating nature of their post-‘Arise’ material, but rather a review of my second favorite release from the band’s ’85-’89 golden era (my first being the ‘Bestial Devastation’ EP), as well as a way of hopefully justifying the album’s downfalls.

‘Morbid Visions’ is one of those albums that has to be looked at in a contextual manner. Yes, it is sloppy. Yes, the production isn’t quite up to par with people’s need for digital perfection. Yes, the lyrics are retarded. All of these complaints are perfectly justifiable for those who just simply cannot handle raw recordings such as this one, and whose ears have been tainted by today’s modern metal standards. However, for all of us who can in fact appreciate albums such as this one, in all of its sloppy, ugly glory, then ‘Morbid Visions’ really is a classic, and it will always be considered as such.

One of the main complaints this album seems to get is the production value. Well boo-fucking-hoo, you pussies. Personally, I would have preferred another ‘Bestial Devastation’-type production job, but this one still does not bother me at all. The vocals are perfectly audible, and have a dark, cavernous reverb effect on them. The guitar tones are rather thin and tinny sounding, sacrificing a bit of the heaviness this album could have achieved, but still do not deter from the malicious aura this album gives off, and as long as you can still hear the riffing perfectly, which you can, then you really can’t complain. The bass, although not quite as upfront and kick-you-in-liver as it was on the preceding release, is still there, albeit a bit buried amongst the reverberated murkiness. The drums are also perfectly passable for an older black/death album, despite sounding rather distant and of course the sloppiness in which they are played with. Basically, if you can handle ‘Bloody Vengeance’, ‘INRI’, and ‘Immortal Force’, or pretty much all the other classic Brazilian recordings, you can without a doubt handle ‘Morbid Visions’.

Where as ‘Bestial Devastation’ had a much stronger thrash-oriented, proto-black/death sound, ‘Morbid Visions’, despite its primitiveness, is pretty much a pure black/death metal album, with little in the way of thrash influences. Max’s vocals on here are a bit deeper then on the EP, but not my much. He also continues to use his brief, gruff growls, with the occasional drawn out last couple of words of a verse, which often is also given another layer with even more reverb on the original vocal track. This effect has been used by many, and each time its just as effective as the last. The riffing is still quite simplistic and hadn’t quite reached the level of technicality, for lack of a better word, as on ‘Schizophrenia’. But I feel it’s really for the better that the riffs on here are as simple as they are, as the band at this point obviously was not capable of impeccable, precise thrashing madness. They use lots of tremolo picking, almost in a black metal fashion, mixed with death metal-like palm-muted riffs and things of that nature. I think they could have been even more effective given the proper production job, but the way they were recorded actually gives off a rather eerie atmosphere. The drumming is the sloppiest part of the album, as well as the most simplistic, but he keeps up pretty consistently, and when he does lose his place, he seems to find it again a short while later. The fills and snare rolls are kind of all over the place, and the double-bass skills are pretty much non-existent, but this all adds to savage, bestial nature of the album.

Once you stop being a pussy get past the production and sloppiness, this is a pretty damn fine piece of early black/death metal done in the 80’s Brazilian tradition that many of us have grown to love. I know it may be hard for some to believe that a band who sucks as much as everything released after ‘Arise’ did was actually good at one point, but I still recommend you forget about all of that and worship at the altar of this amazing piece of old-school history.