Cathedral’s Creeping Death

Death metal had been well established for years by the early 90s. The genre was rapidly becoming an arms race of technicality with many bands attempting to use studio trickery to make records far beyond their musical ability in attempt to compete with their best contemporaries, e.g. Morbid Angel. Many brought in hired shredder studio musicians like James Murphy with drum tracks copy and pasted together onto tape from drum samples and “played” live with triggers activating those same pre-recorded samples at the slightest touch. At the same time, good grindcore bands were turning into second-rate death metal ones or worse, lame “melodic hardcore” which turned hardcore punk aesthetics into slit your wrists whine pop.

Lee Dorrian, vocalist of Napalm Death on the b-side of Scum and From Enslavement to Obliteration, was disgusted by Napalm Death writing material incorporating the worst, bouncy hit people aspects of death metal in an attempt to reach a wider audience and quit the band in 1989. He soon formed Cathedral with Gaz Jennings and Mark Griffiths over a shared love of older heavy metal bands such as Black Sabbath, Candlemass, and Witchfinder General. Demos and an album on Dorrian’s old label Earache quickly followed.

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Bolt Thrower, Carcass, and Morbid Angel Vinyl Represses

Earache Records is repressing the vinyl LPs of Bolt Thrower, Carcass, and Morbid Angel from the original tapes due to popular demand and inflated Ebay and Discogs prices. I reviewed the “Full Dynamic Range” remaster of Altars of Madness last year which sounded great. All are available for pre-order from Earache’s webstore and digital versions of most are on Earache’s Bandcamp page.

Morbid Angel – Altars of Madness Full Dynamic Range Edition

Morbid Angel - Altars of Madness cover

Morbid Angel recorded what was supposed to be their debut album in 1986. Compositionally excellent and novel, Abominations of Desolation was a Manhattan project of death metal as a truly musically distinct sub-genre. However, band leader Trey Azagthoth and then producer Dave Vincent were unhappy with the recording. Azagthoth quickly fired drummer/vocalist Browning and bassist John Ortega, and shelved the album, which Ortega later released as a bootleg. Vincent and Azagthoth had a point though: Browning’s drumming was shaky and he sounded like a wimp. His drumming lacked power, never making use of blast beats while his vocals could have come out of a whiny fourteen-year-old.

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Reissue Radar: Morbid Angel – Altars of Madness (1989)

altars of madness

Earache Records is doing another one of their brief, ultra-limited record sales. This time, they are releasing Morbid Angel’s classic Altars of Madness on vinyl; they claim that this release will be one of their “Full Dynamic Range” remasters, which purport to not be afflicted by the brickwalling that took over popular music with the advent of digital recording. Needless to say, this is certainly a classic of death metal, although many on DMU prefer the versions of the songs here that appeared on Abominations of Desolation. Anyone who isn’t fortunate enough to grab this vinyl and wants a version of this album with improved dynamic range regardless will probably have to scrounge up some cash for an original pressing.