Morbid Angel premiered a new song off of their yet untitled upcoming record at a recent live show in Orlando. Current frontman Steve Tucker:
This song is probably the most warped thing we’ve ever done. This song is called “Warped”.
Morbid Angel (Trey Azagthoth and Steve Tucker) have finally found a new drummer: Scott Fuller of Annihilated and Abysmal Dawn. Instead of Morrisound, the band is currently recording a new album with Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal) at his Mana Studios and the drum tracks have been laid down. Expect digital, plastic sounding sterility.
Former Morbid Angel frontman Evil Diamond Dave Vincent formed a Morbid Angel cover band, I Am Morbid, with the last Morbid Angel drummer, Tim Yueng, to tour South America with. Apparently the whole country music, honky tonk bar band schtick hasn’t been working out for Evil D. The transition from Necromonicon to NASCAR failed to bring fruit financial rewards.
Nirvana’s Nevermind turned twenty five yesterday but since we at the Death Metal Underground condemn pop-punk Boston worship, we will celebrate a different anniversary today. Morbid Angel‘s Blessed Are the Sick was released twenty-five summers ago. Blessed Are the Sick was the last Morbid Angel record focused on inwardly improving the music rather than compromising it for commercial appeal to a mainstream market. The band had been obsessed with refining and expanding upon their compositions since Trey Azagthoth shelved the release of 1986’s Abominations of Desolation and fired then drummer/vocalist Mike Browning.
Morbid Angel (Trey Azagthoth and Steve Tucker) released a crazy press release on their Facebook page yesterday claiming to be “working on some super Inspired Over The Top Shit” and stating that they have signed a contract with German label UDR Music. Despite needing a drummer, the band promises to strike “a consistent chord of dark, dissonant death-metal empathy with their loyal fanbase.” Hopefully Trey and Steve’s new collaboration will be more Formulas Fatal to the Flesh than Gateways to Annihilation.
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.
Morbid Angel have been booked as one of the headliners for Maryland Deathfest 2017 despite having only two members in Trey Azagthoth and Steve Tucker. The crusty, SJW-infested parking lot festival announced the initial round of bands this week on their Fuckbook page:
Akercocke (UK) – Exclusive U.S. appearance!
Behexen (Finland) – Exclusive U.S. appearance!
In The Woods… (Norway) – Exclusive U.S. appearance!
Morbid Angel (with Trey Azagthoth and Steve Tucker)
Sargeist (Finland) – Exclusive U.S. appearance!
Terrorizer (World Downfall set)
Conceived in rehearsals between 1984 and 1985, Abominations of Desolation was completed and recorded by 1986, showcasing the most concentrated and solid (in composition) release either Trey Azagthoth or Mike Browning have put out until now (or likely to ever release, for that matter). I hesitate to use the word refined here as that would imply a correcting of minute details at every level, which this album obviously does not posses. The next three albums make use of this material and refine it in different ways and distinct directions, filling out the rest of the albums with some good ideas and mostly filler.
On Altars of Madness, the most significant changes to the music besides the studio production (including tone and what no) and vocals were to tempo. The composition of the songs themselves remained the same. Basically they were played much faster and the drumming was made more “tight”. The new songs that were not taken from Abominations of Desolation were essentially inferior filler, although the songs were not necessarily bad, just not as good as the earlier material. There are two things to be said regarding the tempo changes. On the one hand, Altars of Madness is mandatory study material for any true fan of the genre and even more so for the aspiring death metal musician because it is a textbook example of excellent technical accomplishment of flexible death metal compositions. On the other hand, accelerating so much destroyed the original character of the songs which no longer sounded mystically infused with darkness but rather comically colorful. The tempo also obfuscated the structural features rather than highlighting and exploiting them, lending a flatter and more pop-oriented sound that emphasized hooks in the middle of a maelstrom of madness.
In 1991, Morbid Angel released Blessed are the Sick, which sees the band attempting to regain the spirit they lost in Altars of Madness in search of a more professionally competitive tone and production. The early songs used in this album were not as distorted, retaining their original aura, but they were re-recorded with very soft and mellow guitar and drum sound. The new songs composed for the album also matched the dense atmosphere and dynamics of the older songs. A concept orientation was adopted and the result was the artistic peak of Morbid Angel, presenting the highest refinement of the material in balance with a whole-work oriented album rather than a simple collection of songs. Here we find the best of Azagthoth’s collaboration with Browning meeting the best of Morbid Angel’s later work. While Altars of Madness came out as slightly comical, Abominations of Desolation seemed dark and serious about its occult nature and Blessed are the Sick made a serious attempt at recovering that.
Then came Covenant, the last album to use seminal material from Abominations of Desolation. This album is a strong attempt at bringing the best from the two previous albums, it is Morbid Angel attempting to summarize, solidify their voice, carving a new path after having released their magnum opus. This is always the most difficult album in a classic band’s career. It often results in an emphasizing of technical aspects while the band tries to discover how they can continue after they have achieved greatness. The result is often undeniably outstanding material that lacks spirit. It happened to Yes after Close to the Edge, the greatest and most ambitious organic expression of who they were. Becoming self-referential in Tales from Topographic Oceans and then, not knowing where to go artistically, Yes used the best of their technical abilities to produce their technical highlight: Relayer. Covenant is Morbid Angel’s Relayer.
I am tempted to say that the best work these two artists ever did was together. It is a pity that personal problems had to come between them. Same sad story of Celtic Frost’s, who also never reached its early heights after the dynamic duo at its center separated. It is hard to tell how each of these artists complement each other, but judging from their projects away from each other we can observe that without Browning, Azagthoth becomes streamlined and even sterile, while without the latter Browning indulges in an adventurous music full of life that is unfortunately musically crippled by a lack of discipline and organization. Perhaps this is also related to a merely technical appreciation of Mozart by Azagthoth and the excited yet musically uninformed admiration of Rush on Browning’s side.
Complaining about the production and tone in Abominations of Desolation and overlooking the whole composition is like missing a great book of classic literature because you do not like the cover and the font in which it is written. You can complain about the font, but the font is not the organized information that literature is. So it is that production values do not make up what music is, only a medium. This does not mean that we should not criticize this, but it seems to me that it is over the top and superficial to say that, for instance, Altars of Madness is superior because the tone and production is better there. In fact, since the best songs in that “first” album are taken from Abominations of Desolation, and the rest are second-rate filler in comparison, I would say that in terms of content this early output is the best release to ever come out under the name of Morbid Angel.
The extent to which the artist’s belief in what he says and does, and how much he is actually familiar and imbued with the material, affects the final result of the music. While the young band fervently believed in the Ancients and the Arabic magic spells referenced in their lyrics, the more “mature” band only held on to these in a more tongue-in-cheek, ironic or perhaps metaphorical sense. Abominations of Desolation concentrates and summarizes all the power Morbid Angel had to give at that point which unfortunately only dissipated in future releases. This 1986 release, and no other, is the embodiment of what Morbid Angel is.
Underground death metal band Morbid Angel has compiled tracks from a live concert appearance at Nottingham’s Rock City on November 14th, 1989 into a limited 12″ vinyl release entitled Juvenilia.
The recording, of which 1500 copies will be made, will be released on Record Store Day, which falls every year on April 18. If you want a copy in the US, you have to meet up with Morbid Angel bassist/vocalist David Vincent at Waterloo Records in Austin, TX on Saturday, April 18, 2015, beginning at 3 PM.
Cosmic guitarist Trey Azagthoth commented on the title, “”‘Juvenilia’ says it all; works of one’s youth; early works of an artist or author.” Emerging from the hazy days of 1989, these live tracks show Morbid Angel at the time of its first album, Altars of Madness.