Monday, 2 April 2012

MORBID ANGEL - Covenant (1993)

01  Rapture
02  Pain Divine
03  World Of Shit (The Promised Land)
04  Vengeance Is Mine
05  The Lion's Den
06  Blood On My Hands
07  Angel Of Disease
08  Sworn To The Black
09  Nar Mattaru
10  God Of Emptiness

Covenant is the third official full-length album by Florida based death metal masters Morbid Angel. It was released on June 22, 1993. This album represented Morbid Angel's first foray into mainstream metal, through their contract with Giant Records. The music video for "God of Emptiness" was featured on Beavis & Butt-head and received quite a lot of airplay on MTV. According to Nielsen Soundscan, Covenant is the best selling death metal album of all time, with sales of over 127,000 in the United States alone.

The style of this album is more akin to the slower style of the previous album Blessed Are the Sick. Covering a relatively large amount of ground for a death metal album, with tempo changes aplenty, disonnant solos, and tons of tremolo and alternate picking - The album couldn't really be considered "brutal" as a lot of death metal is, though it is at times very fast. Pete Sandoval was (and in many circles still is) known as the essential center of metal drumming. His work on 'Covenant' may be the pinnacle of his abilites. His speed is unmatched on tracks like 'Rapture', and his choice of rhythms is, as always, flawless when mirroring guitar or vocals, on, for example, 'Vengeance Is Mine'. Notable is his increased used of non-ostinato snare rhythms that function well at accenting the guitars. Trey Azagthoth's guitar work here is awesome, especially on "Rapture", "World of Shit (The Promised Land)", "The Lion's Den" "Sworn to the Black". Then of course, there's David Vincent and his brilliant guttural growls. This is the first album where his vocals are truly guttural and this fits with the music perfectly. Demonic, vicious, malevolent, and determined, Vincent growls his hatred against Christianity and his belief in Satan song after song, never once losing the intensity.

This album refined on Morbid Angel's craft in an amazing way. Many consider it Morbid Angel's last great effort, while some believe it's just another link in the chain. With no notable detractors aside from maybe not being terribly different than other releases (sound-wise), or perhaps even losing the old-school production that gave Altars of Madness such an evil-sounding edge, I'd have to recommend this to anyone who partakes in listening to death metal on a regular basis.

*Some early pressings of the album had a Parental Advisory logo on the cover. Future pressings of the album were produced without the advisory.

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