Friday, 17 August 2012

MORBID ANGEL - Gateways To Annihilation (2000)

01  Kawazu
02  Summoning Redemption
03  Ageless, Still I Am
04  He Who Sleeps
05  To the Victor the Spoils
06  At One With Nothing
07  Opening Of The Gates
08  Secured Limitations
09  Awakening
10  I
11  God Of The Forsaken

'Gateways To Annihilation' is the sixth studio album by the death metal band Morbid Angel. It was released on October 17th 2000 via Earache Records and was produced by Jim Morris. This was the first album in which Steve Tucker contributed lyrics and music to the band. Dan Seagrave painted the album cover. The first Morbid Angel album cover he had painted since "Altars of Madness" back in 1989.

Imagine what life must have been like for poor Steve Tucker. Granted, the choice to accept the job opening of bassist/frontman/David Vincent replacement was all his, but a more unenviable position than that is virtually inconceivable in the world of death metal. However, the dude really shines on this album and proves to these ears that he is made of the morbidity required for said Vincent vacancy. His vox are low, they’re brutal, they’re fucking hateful, and considering the hostile reviews of Mr. Vincent’s recent return, some may be wondering what ol’ Steve is up to these days. Tucker has indeed penned all the lyrics of Gateways, with the exception of Azagthoth’s “Secured Limitations,” which is pretty much the “Angel of Disease” of this album.

Stylistically, this hearkens back to Blessed Are the Sick with a touch of Domination, in that it largely operates on a slower, fundamental tempo. Lurching, but so very determined and vast in scale, tunes like "Summoning Redemption" and "He Who Sleeps" retain a curious versatility despite their reluctance to spend considerable time in the acceleration zone. Tucker's voice has truly shaped itself here to become the ponderous bludgeon that can stand in for David Vincent, and the weighted fiber of the guitar tone possesses both a hard edge and a cystic resilience with great depth to it. The leads are exotic, alien sirens which splash upon the lifeless, terrestrial surfaces as if they were birds of prey striking through the vast vacuum of nothingness. In a sense, there is this cohesion throughout the album, from "Summoning Redemption" through the closer "God of the Forsaken", which makes it more difficult to distinguish individual pieces than it would be on Altars or Domination, yet this does not deter its quality.

In the end, the album suffers from being just a little too slow and too long for its own good and drowns under its own weight in parts, however there's just too much quality here for this to be a total fail. Regrettably, 'Gateways to Annihilation' won't have the replay value of previous Morbid Angel releases but it's a solid if not amazing album from true innovators of the death metal genre.

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