Morbid Angel - Altars Of Madness review




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Reviewer:
7.9

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8.84
Band: Morbid Angel
Album: Altars Of Madness
Release date: 1989


Disc I
01. Immortal Rites
02. Suffocation
03. Visions From The Darkside
04. Maze Of Torment
05. Lord Of All Fevers And Plague [CD version bonus]
06. Chapel Of Ghouls
07. Bleed For The Devil
08. Damnation
09. Blasphemy
10. Evil Spells

Disc II [DVD] [2006 Reissue bonus]
Live In Nottingham Rock City 1989
01. Immortal Rites
02. Suffocation
03. Visions From The Darkside
04. Maze Of Torment
05. Lord Of All Fevers And Plague
06. Chapel Of Ghouls
07. Bleed For The Devil
08. Damnation
09. Blasphemy
10. Evil Spells


There is a living continuum that flows through all of us, connects us together, but also lets us be who we are. It's just ever-flowing lava, and the inner rhythm that guides and commands us. It was always bound to happen, and somewhere in the musical mess of the 80's death metal was born. You could say the force of the universe gave us the creative mind to birth a genre of such musical genius that would later be labelled as one of the very few that still requires a substantial amount of talent to create.

In the early days, four-piece band Morbid Angel were one of the pioneers on the front of death metal. After a couple years since their inception they finally released their outstanding debut record Altars of Madness in 1989. They may have tried to play catch-up with fellow death metal band Death, but at the time I doubt they could care less. Altars of Madness was such a marvel in the way it combined the relentless riffing, spiraling solos, and purely evil-yet-enchanting vocals to create a brutal onslaught of death metal. They may have taken a couple cues from Death but it's unarguable how influential this band was. They set the bar for every other band to follow.

The lyrics are satanic, the solos are sporadic, and the drumming is inhumanly fast. This may sound familiar, but I assure you back in 1989 it was truly a breakthrough. However, it isn't exactly the late 80's anymore. Entering the year of 2011, I'm not sure it holds up in the same way. Even more is that Morbid Angel has composed some records that I'd even consider better in terms of quality than this. I give Altars Of Madness credit for practically being the reason why so many metalheads around the world wear the studs on their belts, and the patchwork on their jackets, and inspiring so many great metal acts in the process, but aside from a few classic standouts, most of the album is pretty repetitive and isn't the most pleasant listening experience.

Well... death metal isn't supposed to be pleasant, but even for someone who listens to metal on a daily basis, it gets a little boring. I will say the song "Chapel of Ghouls" has an incredible atmospheric section and "Maze of Torment" has a mesmerizing chorus and that "Blasphemy" is rather good on the lyrical front, but at the end of the day, it's lacking variety. There are moments in the songs that will strike you at first but once you listen to later Morbid Angel records, they'll begin to eclipse this classic. In other words, there is music that contains the same aspects but nails it better.

I cannot thank the men that started the death metal revolution enough, as they have sparked a flame in me. They have made me see another side of life; yet once I am done dissecting the endless riffs and pounding drums, I am compelled to give it a lower score than what is typically expected for this album. Don't get me wrong though, David Vincent sounds like an evil ghoul trapped in a echoey tomb, Trey Azagthoth plays a wicked guitar, and Pete Sandalov is practically a drum machine... and they'll only improve on the ever-building precipice that they now stand on.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8
Production: 6

Written by Ænigma | 25.03.2011


 


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Guest review by
Mega-Slayer
Rating:
9.8
Where do I begin to explain such a worthy debut? Well, I should start with the affect it had on me, and the metal community: I believe this had the biggest affect towards the influence of extreme music with it's relentless blasting, blasphemous lyrics, and heavy riffing. I mean this record contains any metal heads' dream that being if solos are your thing. Well my friend they are a plenty here, there must be 35-40 solos, and what impresses me is that there isn't really any similarity between any of them. Richard Brunelle and Trey Azagthoth make the greatest team, equivalent even to the mighty Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King, the solos and performance for a debut will really blow your mind. Trey had formed Morbid in '83 so his eagerness to release a record must've really helped as he poured his heart and soul in the composition and execution of the riffs and soloing.

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published 17.11.2006 | Comments (12)


Comments

Comments: 22   Visited by: 146 users
25.03.2011 - 01:59
@gent_-_orange
Great review man.... i think the rating should have been higher though... around the 8.5 mark. IMO this is not the best from morbid angel... That honour belongs to either Blessed are the sick or Covenant.
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25.03.2011 - 02:10
Ænigma
Written by @gent_-_orange on 25.03.2011 at 01:59

i think the rating should have been higher though... around the 8.5 mark. IMO this is not the best from morbid angel... That honour belongs to either Blessed are the sick or Covenant.


Well to me 7.9 is still a pretty good score, just not an amazing one if you know what I mean. And YES! I agree Covenant and Blessed are my two favs, and I'm also a big fan of Gateways to Annihilation \m/
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25.03.2011 - 02:18
@gent_-_orange
Written by Ænigma on 25.03.2011 at 02:10

Written by @gent_-_orange on 25.03.2011 at 01:59

i think the rating should have been higher though... around the 8.5 mark. IMO this is not the best from morbid angel... That honour belongs to either Blessed are the sick or Covenant.


Well to me 7.9 is still a pretty good score, just not an amazing one if you know what I mean. And YES! I agree Covenant and Blessed are my two favs, and I'm also a big fan of Gateways to Annihilation \m/


I guess i am sort of blinded by Nostalgia, This was the album that got me into death metal after all, you explained your points well so im not sour about the rating . Also Gateways is a killer record, Gateways and Formulas are IMO their most underrated albums, I Consider them at least on par with Altars and Domination.
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25.03.2011 - 03:25
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
A 7.9 based on the fact you don't think this holds up to the standards of modern day death metal? I seriously can't get on board with the Hour of Penances and the Demiurgs and the Hail of Bullets' of today putting to shame Mordbid Angel by virtue of sounding..."newer".

As for the production being a 6 - I'd definitely have to disagree with that as well. I think the original recording (I've got the physical copy of a re-release, but a digital version of the original release) benefits amazingly from the incredibly dank production.

Everything sounds totally fuzzed out and evil - the way death metal should sound, and in most cases these days, simply doesn't.
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Prettier than BloodTears.
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25.03.2011 - 04:15
Daydream Nation
Account deleted
Written by Troy Killjoy on 25.03.2011 at 03:25

A 7.9 based on the fact you don't think this holds up to the standards of modern day death metal? I seriously can't get on board with the Hour of Penances and the Demiurgs and the Hail of Bullets' of today putting to shame Mordbid Angel by virtue of sounding..."newer".

As for the production being a 6 - I'd definitely have to disagree with that as well. I think the original recording (I've got the physical copy of a re-release, but a digital version of the original release) benefits amazingly from the incredibly dank production.

Everything sounds totally fuzzed out and evil - the way death metal should sound, and in most cases these days, simply doesn't.


Completely agree with this comment.
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25.03.2011 - 06:22
Captain Obvious
Written by Guest on 25.03.2011 at 04:15

Written by Troy Killjoy on 25.03.2011 at 03:25

A 7.9 based on the fact you don't think this holds up to the standards of modern day death metal? I seriously can't get on board with the Hour of Penances and the Demiurgs and the Hail of Bullets' of today putting to shame Mordbid Angel by virtue of sounding..."newer".

As for the production being a 6 - I'd definitely have to disagree with that as well. I think the original recording (I've got the physical copy of a re-release, but a digital version of the original release) benefits amazingly from the incredibly dank production.

Everything sounds totally fuzzed out and evil - the way death metal should sound, and in most cases these days, simply doesn't.


Completely agree with this comment.


Completely agree with both of you.
----
Did you ever notice that the people who tell you to get a life are normally people who should be dead in the first place?
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25.03.2011 - 11:48
Deadmeat
Necrobutcher
How can one of the first DM albums have originality-8?

how can morbid angel have performance-9?

about the songwriting i can accept it, you may not love all the songs. but this album is awesome and have awesome songs to give them a 7.

the production i feel that is about 8 and not 6. but if you compare it with todays music you may think it is only a 6.

but mate when you write a review you MUST have in mind MAINLY the past of the album and the band that you are talking about and not the future. you wouldnt say these words back then, if you listened to this album when it came out.
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Υou've sold your human essence to the cold world of dead and empty things... You're SOLD!
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25.03.2011 - 11:50
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
Written by Deadmeat on 25.03.2011 at 11:48

the production i feel that is about 8 and not 6. but if you compare it with todays music you may think it is only a 6.



I would say comparing it to today's production on most death metal albums this would rate a 10 in my books and the modern ones a 7. Here the production adds to the evilness whereas most of the time nowadays it's too clean and stale and lacking all bite.
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Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

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25.03.2011 - 12:05
Deadmeat
Necrobutcher
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 25.03.2011 at 11:50

Written by Deadmeat on 25.03.2011 at 11:48

the production i feel that is about 8 and not 6. but if you compare it with todays music you may think it is only a 6.



I would say comparing it to today's production on most death metal albums this would rate a 10 in my books and the modern ones a 7. Here the production adds to the evilness whereas most of the time nowadays it's too clean and stale and lacking all bite.

yeah ok. on the other hand covenat has a much cleaner production but isn't it evil and violent too? if you get me...
----
Υou've sold your human essence to the cold world of dead and empty things... You're SOLD!
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25.03.2011 - 12:11
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
Written by Deadmeat on 25.03.2011 at 12:05

yeah ok. on the other hand covenat has a much cleaner production but isn't it evil and violent too? if you get me...


I don't find that one evil at all, and still find it not a good album. The best two by far are still Altars and Blessed for me. Covenant sounds too slick imo
----
Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

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25.03.2011 - 12:26
Deadmeat
Necrobutcher
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 25.03.2011 at 12:11

Written by Deadmeat on 25.03.2011 at 12:05

yeah ok. on the other hand covenat has a much cleaner production but isn't it evil and violent too? if you get me...


I don't find that one evil at all, and still find it not a good album. The best two by far are still Altars and Blessed for me. Covenant sounds too slick imo

it may not be that evil-comparing it with with the first one only- but the production surely helps it in a good way. also i cannot see the fact how blessed is better than covenant.... many people say it but covenant is closer to the violent and paranoid MA of altars of madness and that's the way i love this band sound!
----
Υou've sold your human essence to the cold world of dead and empty things... You're SOLD!
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25.03.2011 - 12:36
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
Written by Deadmeat on 25.03.2011 at 12:26

it may not be that evil-comparing it with with the first one only- but the production surely helps it in a good way. also i cannot see the fact how blessed is better than covenant.... many people say it but covenant is closer to the violent and paranoid MA of altars of madness and that's the way i love this band sound!


Blessed has way more atmosphere to it than Covenant and Covenant just wants to be violent and actually fails at that imo, like so many bands fail at being violent when they try too hard to. Just like brutal dm bands who although at cursory glance they sound brutal actually fail in every aspect
----
Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

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25.03.2011 - 13:27
Deadmeat
Necrobutcher
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 25.03.2011 at 12:36

Written by Deadmeat on 25.03.2011 at 12:26

it may not be that evil-comparing it with with the first one only- but the production surely helps it in a good way. also i cannot see the fact how blessed is better than covenant.... many people say it but covenant is closer to the violent and paranoid MA of altars of madness and that's the way i love this band sound!


Blessed has way more atmosphere to it than Covenant and Covenant just wants to be violent and actually fails at that imo, like so many bands fail at being violent when they try too hard to. Just like brutal dm bands who although at cursory glance they sound brutal actually fail in every aspect

nah. imo covenat has it all. brutality, extremity, violence etc. i think it approaches the term "the perfect dm album".
----
Υou've sold your human essence to the cold world of dead and empty things... You're SOLD!
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25.03.2011 - 18:47
Winterthrone
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 25.03.2011 at 11:50

Written by Deadmeat on 25.03.2011 at 11:48

the production i feel that is about 8 and not 6. but if you compare it with todays music you may think it is only a 6.



I would say comparing it to today's production on most death metal albums this would rate a 10 in my books and the modern ones a 7. Here the production adds to the evilness whereas most of the time nowadays it's too clean and stale and lacking all bite.


The production on this album fits MA 's style perfectly so it's a 10 for me too! This album is pure genius and should never be rated under 9 in my book. I mean it's a masterpiece of Death Metal. I think the reviewer forgot that without it Modern Death Metal wouldn't be what it is today, so it's kind of sillty to say it is pale in comparison to modern Death Metal albums...
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27.03.2011 - 01:38
Ænigma
Written by Winterthrone on 25.03.2011 at 18:47

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 25.03.2011 at 11:50

Written by Deadmeat on 25.03.2011 at 11:48

the production i feel that is about 8 and not 6. but if you compare it with todays music you may think it is only a 6.



I would say comparing it to today's production on most death metal albums this would rate a 10 in my books and the modern ones a 7. Here the production adds to the evilness whereas most of the time nowadays it's too clean and stale and lacking all bite.


The production on this album fits MA 's style perfectly so it's a 10 for me too! This album is pure genius and should never be rated under 9 in my book. I mean it's a masterpiece of Death Metal. I think the reviewer forgot that without it Modern Death Metal wouldn't be what it is today, so it's kind of sillty to say it is pale in comparison to modern Death Metal albums...


I realize it is a classic and has been highly influential but I am reviewing it as though a metal fan were to listen to it for the first time. It's definitely good, just not amazing to me. Also, I love the way Morbid Angel utilized the low production to make a more evil sound, but that still doesn't mean the production is of an 8, 9 or 10 calibur.

Then again, it's all a matter of taste. I personally like Covenant the best. I loved every second of that disc.
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27.03.2011 - 02:52
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Written by Ænigma on 27.03.2011 at 01:38

I realize it is a classic and has been highly influential but I am reviewing it as though a metal fan were to listen to it for the first time.

I'm hoping a (death) metal fan listening to this for the first time would find it better than a 7.9.
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Prettier than BloodTears.
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27.03.2011 - 08:57
Void_Eater
Account deleted
I'll disagree with you saying this doesn't hold up well. I'm 16, and this is one of my favorite death metal albums. Maybe you were implying that it doesn't hold up well after years of listening? Because as a young metalhead, I find this album to be fantastic. Pure death metal that remembers it's thrash origins, and takes full advantage of them.
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27.03.2011 - 13:59
Deadmeat
Necrobutcher
Written by Guest on 27.03.2011 at 08:57

I'll disagree with you saying this doesn't hold up well. I'm 16, and this is one of my favorite death metal albums. Maybe you were implying that it doesn't hold up well after years of listening? Because as a young metalhead, I find this album to be fantastic. Pure death metal that remembers it's thrash origins, and takes full advantage of them.

this album is a milestone and as a young metalhead you should love it not only for now but for the rest of your life!

it's awesome, it's one of the starters and one of the best. i am sure that by time you'll probably like it more than now (after you realize how shitty are many bands comparing them to morbid angel)....
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Υou've sold your human essence to the cold world of dead and empty things... You're SOLD!
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28.03.2011 - 15:23
Pap
This is absolutely the best album of Morbid Angel and a classic album for the genre. The sound is completely original, Morbid Angel studied well the Thrash metal sound of the era and took its basic principles one step beyond and at the same time they avoided being a bad clone of Possessed and Death that already had explored this field. The review is good but the rating is not according to my opinion. Originality should be definitely higher as for the production i don't think that we should expect something different, it fits perfectly to the morbidity and the aggressiveness of the music. This album is not as technical and mature as Blessed are the sick but it has all of the fury that has to characterize a genuine death metal release.
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29.03.2011 - 00:29
Ænigma
It was my first Morbid Angel album (except for a couple songs from Formulas & Gateways), and yet I was much more blown away by later albums. It's all a matter of opinion, and clearly the most popular opinion surronding this album is that it's a classic and one of the best death metal albums of all-time. I know it's a classic, as well as a very nostalgic album, but while evaluating the music I just don't like it as much as Blessed, Covenant, Domination, or Gateways.

Also I don't just hand out 10's or 9.5's to things I like.. I rate things very hard and that's probably why everyone thinks 7.9 means the album is subpar. No, I think it was innovative and all but the music doesn't hit me hard enough to make it an 8-9 for me.
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29.03.2011 - 01:39
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
I think we all understand 7.9 is .01 points away from being "great" by Metal Storm standards. The problem isn't your score in my opinion, it's your scoring process (calling this out for its production (when the production is one of the best in all DM albums), doesn't stand the test of time (meanwhile bands nowadays are striving to reproduce this same sound because that's what the fans want), etc. etc. etc.

At the end of the day, it's your review, your score, your logic. But it conflicts with a lot of opinions, and you're going to get a largely negative response because of it, especially with it being a classic album/band.
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Prettier than BloodTears.
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08.02.2012 - 18:15
@gent_-_orange
Written by @gent_-_orange on 25.03.2011 at 01:59

Great review man.... i think the rating should have been higher though... around the 8.5 mark. IMO this is not the best from morbid angel... That honour belongs to either Blessed are the sick or Covenant.

Shit what the hell was I thinking?, This album is an absolute classic in every sense, and this album is on par (or maybe a little lower) than Blessed.
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