If not the most lethal weapon of choice in Earache Record’s 2003 catalogue, MORBID ANGEL’s seventh studio offering makes me wanna head bang until I turn sick and throw up, but it also makes me wonder what went through their heads when recording the album. When Death Metal blossomed in the late eighties, MORBID ANGEL had already been going for a few years; they are among the oldest Death Metal bands today and have played a big part in the invention of the sound.
In the eyes of journalists, reviewers and fans of the genre MORBID ANGEL will always be looked at as an experienced and accomplished band with unsurpassed abilities, take the first track “Cleansed In Pestilence (Blade Of Elohim)” and name one band that has the same sickness of speed and technicality. “Gateways To Annihilation” was very sludgy, “Heretic” on the other hand turned out faster and more technical. The album takes off with a blast weaving through several good songs but then ends in a rather untraditional way, I’ll get back to that in a moment.
The songs are unmistakably MORBID ANGEL. Instrumentally the guys are virtuous, especially Azagthoth and Sandoval’s pyrotechnics put lots of rich details on the songs and Steve Tucker does a great job on the vocals and bass. “Stricken Arise” summons the ripping savagery found on the band’s earlier recordings, this is were I question if Sandoval should be considered as a part of the human race hehe.
The trio has always experimented with interludes and medieval ambience, on “Formula…” they had something like four instrumentals, on “Heretic” there are SIX!!! It’s not healthy to place six instrumentals at the end of a Death Metal album, I wish they were good, would’ve made sense then, but alas they’re pretty much worthless in this context. Eight songs and six instrumentals and on top of that, if you’ve got the limited edition, there’s a whole bonus CD with more instrumentals, oh goody gum drops!!! (sarcastic grin follows).
As with all MORBID ANGEL releases the sound is kept raw, puffed and greasy, hardcore fans will like it while others will tell you that the U.S. sanitation department could’ve done wonders by cleaning some of the rough edges.
After a year, I’m still not sure what to think of the album, there definitely should’ve been more songs and less instrumental conception, I can only hope the next album will be a fine return to majesty. Please, concentrate more on the Death Metal part next time ok guys? (Online December 25, 2004)