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Reestablishing the Crank - 95%

The Chairman of the Dig, October 7th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, Earache Records

I'm fed up. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning and I'm sick of trying to deny it. This is, hands down, my favorite Morbid Angel album and I believe it to be the most powerful in the entire discography. Yup, you've heard that right folks - I believe it even surpasses the mighty 1989 classic Alters of Madness as well as other seminal works such as Covenant (1993) and the subsequent Domination (1995). Your rib-collecting songs such as "Prayer of Hatred" and "Nothing is Not" are brutal yet at the same time as uplifting as anything I've heard in the genre. Many songs on here remind me a lot of Behemoth's 2014 masterpiece The Satanist - not so much musically, but lyrically and in that same spirit which seems to cry out and reaffirm their love for Satan (although I believe in this case they were aimed more at the Sumerian gods and Lovecraft's Ancient Ones).

At the very least it's the group's most underrated performance. Take the opening track "Heaving Earth" - which comes off as more of a conjuration than an actual song. Trey Azagthoth begins the onslaught with an opening riff which digs right through to the depths of the ribbery. Around the 15 second mark there is a total collapse of sanity as Steve Tucker erupts into the guttural assault like an absolute demon of the shred. Trey, demented now, blitzkriegs into more signature tremolo riffage (52 seconds in) like a Buzz-saw straight out of the loony bin. The unquenchable savagery is matched only by Pete Sandoval's pulverizing blast beats.

Slipping further and further past the brink of brutalization, they pummel onward into to what I believe to be the strongest track on the album. Crunching, squealing, and all out of fucks to give - "Nothing is Not" comes scraping in at only around 95 beats per minute. Like someone straight out of a sludge factory, Tucker displays complete command of the bash as he shifts, becoming a master of the dig. Meanwhile, Trey, delivering pinch harmonics like a twisted crank artist leaves the listener questioning reality: how can this many ribs be taken in one song? It's like they are saying fuck you the entire time and there is nothing you can do but lay there basking in the blood of the innocent.

At this point any thoughts of turning back are vanquished and they transcend space and time with the face melting "Chambers of Dis". The haunting instrumental "Disturbance of the Great Slumber" sets up another crusher in "Umalamahri" which is then followed by "Hellspawn: the Rebirth". Everything is coming together quite nicely now.

Slaughtering it's way into the nether, the album reaches it's crescendo with one of the final riffs (around 7 minutes in) to "Invocation of the Continual One" (which i believe is just a mash up of a bunch of different ideas Trey had lying around). The record begins to fade out with two more masterful percussion instrumentals in "Ascent through the Spheres" and "Hymno Rituales de Guerra" from Mr. Sandoval.

This is essential listening. I find myself coming back time and time again to this album throughout the years and each time it sparks newfound inspiration. People are sleeping on Steve but I'm more than happy to have him back, and word is that he and Trey will go back to their old brutal ways after their disappointing last album. Anyways, I could go on and wallow in nostalgia for hours about this record and this moment in my life. I'm just excited that Steve is back and I hope to hear "Nothing is Not" live - see you in the fucking pit. Hail Satan and Stay Brutal Bitch! \m/