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Morbid Angel - Formulas Fatal To The Flesh (6,5/10) - USA - 1997

Genre: Death Metal
Label: Earache
Playing time: 51:40
Band homepage: Morbid Angel

Tracklist:

  1. Heaving Earth
  2. Prayer Of Hatred
  3. Bil Ur Sag
  4. Nothing Is Not
  5. Chambers Of Dis
  6. Disturbance In The Great Slumber
  7. Umulamahri
  8. Hellspawn: The Rebirth
  9. Covenant Of Death
  10. Hymn To A Gas Giant
  11. Invocation Of The Continual One
  12. Ascent Through The Spheres
  13. Hymnos Rituales De Guerra
  14. Trooper
Morbid Angel - Formulas Fatal To The Flesh
After the more experimental, yet somewhat more accessible sounds of "Domination", the Morbid Ones followed up with a very "underground"-sounding successor. It also marked the first effort by the band without longtime bassist/vocalist David Vincent, in his place was Steve Tucker, from the rather unheard-of Death Metal-act CEREMONY. He definitely had some experience, but could he fill the shoes of the legendary Vincent? Such a task would not be easy.

One thing is immediately made clear on opener "Heaving Earth": the band has gotten MUCH faster since "Domination"! Sandoval's blasting is so fast it simply boggles the mind. The guitar riffs have been injected with an extra dose of technicality as well, and when the vocals come in, it is evident that Tucker has an altogether more guttural and dirty style as compared to Vincent, which, in my opinion, suits the music on this album quite effectively. He isn't trying to be something he's not, and that is to be commended. At times he does sound a bit muddy, but on the whole he fits in well.

I was really caught off-guard by some parts of this album though, like the almost jazz-like passage towards the end of "Covenant Of Death", or the obscure middle found in "Invocation Of The Continual One" - a long, dull, meandering throwaway if you ask me - not to mention the lacklustre instrumental tracks. All of this ultimately seems to be filler for the otherwise quite brutal album. Basically the last one-half to one-third of "Formulas..." could have been dropped without any objection from me.

I do, however, feel that the majority of "Formulas..." serves a specific purpose in MORBID ANGEL's career. It was to silence the critics who thought the band might go soft, or perhaps commercial, after losing Vincent, that's my speculation. But it simply lacks the emotional depth and memorability of "Domination", and upon first listen I was quite disappointed that the band didn't seem to focus as much on writing good songs. They seemed more intent on either going full steam ahead, or going overboard on the experimenting. In the process, I think a bit of quality in the songs got lost. Sure, most of it is pure MORBID ANGEL, fast and chaotic, but it lacks that certain something which made "Domination" so great (maybe it was Erik Rutan?).

In no way is this a bad album, but I would definitely expect more from the legends...

Gabriel Gose



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