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Morbid Angel > Heretic > Reviews > Slater922
Morbid Angel - Heretic

Are the cracks beginning to show? - 80%

Slater922, June 22nd, 2022
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Earache Records

After the release of Gateways to Annihilation, people were convinced that Morbid Angel had a thing going on. And even with an abrupt change of vocalists, it still seemed like the band was still gonna pump up classic records after classic records. However, that changed the second they released their 2003 album "Heretic". Now, let me say for the record that I don't find this record to be terrible, as I still view this record very highly. With that said, however, there are some problems with it that kind of bring the score down...

To see what I mean, let's check out the instrumentals first. On the first track "Cleansed in Pestilence (Blade of Elohim)", we can tell that things have changed a lot. As in, the production has gotten weaker. The guitar riffs sound more noisy and raw, and give the riffs a more evil and demonic sound. The drumming has also been downgraded in terms of sound, so the beats sound cheaper and tinny, making the blastbeats sound not as powerful as the previous records. The bass, however, has suffered the most, as in some areas, it's nearly inaudible. Now, on one hand, the weaker production actually does benefit the instrumentals, like in "Beneath the Hollow", where the chaotic riffs are enhanced with the weaker production. However, in other instances, the production also does weaken the overall sound, as their strength doesn't sound as menacing as in the previous records. In fact, had they continued with the same production as in the last record, I think it would've been improved significantly. Oh, and there's also some hidden instrumental tracks near the end, and they sound okay, but nothing compared to other instrumentals in earlier albums. And don't even get me started on "Drum Check", which is one of the most pointless tracks in Morbid Angel's catalogue. I mean, you could get rid of it, and nothing would change. Despite this and the weak production, the composition of the instrumentals still remains strong.

However, the vocals aren't so strong. I know, it's kind of weird for me to say that, since Steve's vocals in the last record were improved upon. However, I think that by taking one step forward, he also ended up taking two steps back on this record. A good example of this is in the track "Stricken Arise". His vocals sound distorted and utilize more screams, which sound okay, but the distorted sound effect hasn't exactly aged the best, as it makes his voice sound dated and even a bit awkward at times. Also, with the help of the poor production, his vocals sound a bit muted and don't have that might as in the previous albums. They're not terrible overall, but with the weird distortion and poor mixing, they somehow sound worse than in Formulas Fatal to the Flesh.

Heretic is not a bad record per say, as most of the instrumentals in of themselves are still good. However, it's the weaker production and unusual vocals that mainly drag the score down, along with a drum check track that doesn't benefit the album in any way. The band won't release another record until 8 years later with "Illud Divinum Insanus", which actually makes this album sound like Painkiller in comparison. But if you wanna check out Heretic, I would say yeah, but don't expect to be marveled.