Friday, 9 March 2012

MORBID ANGEL - Altars Of Madness (1989)

01  Immortal Rites
02  Suffocation
03  Visions From The Dark Side
04  Maze of Torment
05  Lord Of All Fevers & Plague
06  Chapel Of Ghouls
07  Bleed For The Devil
08  Damnation
09  Blasphemy
10  Evil Spells

In the vein of genre crossing bands in the field of thrash and early death metal came one of the most monumental debuts from a band who is still making waves today. It was without doubt, a game changer...

Morbid Angel burst onto the scene with Altars of Madness, a collection of 10 songs, which took the sounds of bands like Possessed and Death to the next level. These are the roots of modern day death metal, sprouting and nourishing countless bands for over a decade now. UK music magazine Terrorizer ranked Morbid Angel's 1989 debut Altars of Madness first in its list "Top 40 greatest death metal albums".

There are several reasons why Altars of Madness still gets so much airtime and magazine space today, this is an album that presents a complex hybrid of two subheadings of heavy metal: thrash at its most popular, and death metal at its origins. Combining classic style guitar soloing with crushing drum blasts and guttural rasps, Morbid Angel were not doing anything original necessarily; but it was the clean cut sound, complex song writing, structuring and the all around kick-ass nature of their debut that won David Vincent and the boys their much deserved acclaim.

No matter how many times I play the opening track Immortal Rites it still manages to send chills up my spine once the chilling and majestic guitar bridge kicks in. It’s one of many truly “metal” moments that make me fall in love with this disc over and over again.
Songs like Blasphemy and Chapel of Ghouls have that familiar brutal death vibe to them that becomes more apparent in the band’s later works. On the other hand, the album is jam packed with memorable thrash solos that will absolutely floor you; this is a well crafted, precision attack on the senses.

The standout track undoubtedly, is Maze of Torment, which reaches out and pulls together every aspect of the Morbid Angel sound and pieces it together into one diabolical romp. A catchy guitar intro along with some cymbal crashing gives way to an angry double bass assault that continually resurfaces throughout the duration of the song to whoop you again and again, alongside some standard soloing and pummelling slowdowns. This song is also a monster when transferred onto the live stage, always performed with barrel loads of energy and never ceases to be a crowd-pleaser. 2006 saw a dualdisc release with the 2003 remaster on the audio side and Live Madness 89 recorded at Nottingham Rock City on November 14, 1989 on the DVD side.

Looking back on the legacy of Morbid Angel it is an undeniable fact that there is a reason why they are so successful. Such a shame that they have now gone on to tarnish that legacy with techno and substandard nu-metal flirtations...

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