Formulas Fatal to the Flesh
This is a great, living album.
Morbid Angel came down to three people on this album. The real
anchors of the band, Trey Azagthoth and Pete Sandoval, are still there.
Steve Tucker was added as the bassist and vocalist for Formulas.
The greatest change, however, was in spirit, not personnel. At first,
it seems less disciplined and more out of control than the last two
albums, Covenant and Domination. It seemed somewhat uncoordinated to me
when I first listened to it, and was put off slightly.
But after a few listens, I came to recognize the greater vibrance and
enthusiasm on this album. It far more living than Covenant and Domination.
The feel of the songs is much closer to Angel of Disease, in which there is
free shifting between very different riffs and tempos.
Part of the reason for this may be the recording approach. I heard that much
of it was recorded live, rather than track-by-track, but I don't know this
for a fact.
Much of the feel comes from the composition. It is far more liberal with
structure than before. They seem to do anything they want whenever they want,
but not in a stupid way. The same thing goes on at album level; long songs
and instrumentals seem to pop in without premeditation.
And then there's the playing - looser, more energetic. Perhaps
because of the greater space afforded to a three-man band, they are able
to individually go for the throat while maintaining cohesion.
Steve Tucker's vocals are more raspy and less dense than
David Vincent's were, which make them less imposing, but at the same time,
fits in with the less constrained and more moving playing style they have
Pete Sandoval sounds very heavy, impressive, and spirited. His blasts live.
On Domination (and possibly Covenant), he played against a click track. On
Formulas, he clearly did not. The slight tempo variances that may have come
about as a result are worth it.
Trey, as always, riffs intensely and with feeling. His soloing style does
not really do much for me, but they usually work. He does a lot more
squealing on this album, especially on Nothing Is Not. The anchor riff of
that song resembles toherworldly creatures undergoing some rhythmic, searing
torture. There are also interesting start/stop "broken" rhythms in the song.
Along with Nothing Is Not, the strongest songs are the first two, Hymnos de
Guerros, and Invocation of the Continual One. Hymnos de Guerros is a great
polyrhthmic solo on what sounds like tom toms. Invocation of the Continual
One is eleven minutes. I didn't think I wanted to hear an eleven minute
Morbid Angel song, but at that point in the album, it is powerful. The
listener's attention span is expanded and prepared at that time. The riffs
in the song are much simpler than on the rest of the album, but very
effective, possibly because of the contrast.
The last track on the album is pretty worthless (just some gunshot sounds
organized into boring rhythm), but that's its only real flaw. The lyrics
are great; they are all about being beyond humanity. They make you smile
and want to roar along. And Sumerian sounds great when filtered through
death metal vocals.
© 2000 abasmagorsulpherion