“Altars Of Madness” (remaster) by Morbid Angel

Artist: Morbid Angel
Title: “Altars Of Madness”
Label: Earache Records
Release Date: 3/14/2006
Genre: Death Metal
Rating: 4/5

In honor of their legendary debut release “Altars Of Madness”, Florida’s Morbid Angel has issued a remastered edition of the album that includes a live concert DVD from the same year of the albums birth. “AOM” was not just a debut album but is one that is considered a legendary piece of music from the Death Metal genres early years. Morbid Angel were not a band that sounded like the Death Metal bands of today in any fashion and when they began had a very strong Thrash Metal undertone to them. There was blast beat drumming and dark vocals but when it came to the guitar one would find that there was also a tremendous amount of technical skills placed in to the tunes with careful and stylish riffing. This ended up presenting a band that had much more musical approach to them and showed signs that the genre had a lot more going for it than many would have allowed to accept. It was definitely extreme and not your brothers NWOBHM when it needed comparison. The members of the band at their earliest time was David Vincent (bass, vocals), Trey Azagthoth (guitar), Richard Brunelle (guitar) and Pete Sandoval (drums) and like most of the bands that would follow in their footsteps the lyrical composition was rife with strong Satanic and Anti-Christian beliefs. It held some similarities to Black Metal but Death Metal was not quite as underground as that genre would be at this time. While it was still growing and had some serious momentum in the European countries, there was no one as influential to the form in the US as Morbid Angel would end up being.

As you listen to tracks like “Evil Spells” and “Maze Of Torment” you hear the common threads from the European stuff but you cannot deny the technical side which we said made this a newly morphing brand of music. Morbid Angel were among the best at what they did back then and without them we would most likely never see bands like Cannibal Corpse and Unleashed coming into existence. In 1989 I was not following this scene at all, but in listening to it so many years later I was impressed at how strong the album stands up against the bands of today. One can easily listen to this and the recent works by Behemoth and see where the influences actually lie. I found this especially interesting considering that Behemoth began as more of a Black Metal band. I can also see how Slayer took some influence from early Morbid Angel and I admit that it is quite a bit of fun listening to a legendary release and seeing who learned from the efforts on it as they made their own careers. Azagthoth is a great guitarist all around and by today’s standards in Metal it is great to see how he began when one looks back on how he was then as they launched their own brand of mayhem. The re-mastering process sounds great on this classic piece of Metal and while most Metal heads should already own a copy, the included DVD makes this a worthy purchase. There are three bonus tracks on the CD and as opposed to being unreleased trinkets they are instead re-mixes of three of the albums existing tunes. The booklet that is enclosed features lyrics and photos as well as updated comments from Trey.

DVD: The DVD that is included in this anniversary edition is called “Live Madness 89” and presents a show from Nottingham Rock City on 11/14/1989. The footage is rather rough and the sound a tad raw but this is ok since we get to enjoy a classic set from these guys from their very early label years. You can’t go wrong with that for a start and then when you realize that this is a liver performance of the entire CD from beginning to end that makes this edition worth adding to one’s Metal arsenal. As you watch the concert you can enjoy and appreciate the intensity in which they delivered their music and how proficient they were at the craft very early on. One can also see how they would end up inspiring the scores of Death and Black Metal bands in the future.

Track List:
1. Immortal Rites
2. Suffocation
3. Visions From The Dark Side
4. Maze Of Torment
5. Lord Of All Fevers And Plague
6. Chapel Of Ghouls
7. Bleed For The Devil
8. Damnation
9. Blasphemy
10. Evil Spells
11. Maze Of Torment (re-mix)
12. Chapel Of Ghouls (re-mix)
13. Blasphemy (re-mix)

Official Website: www.morbidangel.com

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