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Morbid Angel - Blessed Are the Sick
Review: Seeking to outdo the intensely conceived and designed Altars of Madness, Morbid Angel moved their music from continuously flowing speeding death metal to counterpoint creations using rhythmic and textural offsets to reflect the cyclic conflict of epic battle.
Violent and contorted, these riffs use all of death metal's lexicon plus add muffled chords to end phrases, single-note harmonization, and different types of chords in fast combinations to create an abstract, challenging, and ambiguously multifaceted sense of composition.
Like progressive rock bands of the previous decade, Morbid Angel use elongated and cryptographic song structures to repeat patterns occurring over a wide span of events. In the style of older witchcraft bands each motion in the song corresponds to an alteration in a vast world of ideas, and in that capacity can introduce a range of items corresponding to its structure and to the greater harmonic structure of each song. With respect to that mode of composition Morbid Angel acquit themselves brilliantly by extending the chromatic nihilism of a Deicide into a classical structural level.
Song tempos range from creeping decadent dirges of doom to rippingly fast infernal battles of blasting snare and riveting guitar riffing. Azagthoth's guitar establishes dominance from the beginning with an almost parasitic ability to manipulate the music around it, creating centerpieces of harmonic motion which overlay and resignify the rest of the song. Other individual performances are strong, from Commando Sandoval's endurance battering (a conglomeration of jazz and grindcore styles) to David Vincent's lucidly clear, strikingly savage and vividly distorted vocal to accompany his fearless of complexity bass playing, and the classical and lead contributions of second guitar Richard Brunelle.