Sound: Many people consider Morbid Angel's debut album Altars Of Madness to be the bands defining masterpiece and while Altars has taken it's place among the great metal releases of all time, if someone asked me to recommend an album that defines death metal I would say to buy the 1993 album Covenant. The first album released without lead guitarist Richard Brunelle, the classic 3 man line up of Azagthoth, Sandoval, Vincent pound out a barrage of blasphemous brutal death metal that has not been bettered to this day.
This album contains all of the best elements of death metal, fast possibly inhuman blast beats courtesy of Pete 'The Feet" Sandoval, fast tremelo picked riffs with the occaisional slimy sludgy mid paced grooves (namely God Of Emptiness), guttural vocal barks courtesy of Dave Vincent that will offend christians in a way that only he can achieve. I was super impressed with the variety on this release as compared to Altars which was 95% fast where as this features 1 slow and sludgy song and a couple of others that rely on grooves as opposed to blazing tremolo picked speed fests.
01.Rapture: a great opener that begins with a fade in to a fast riff and that pace does not let up for the length of the song. I really love the solos in this song they possess a quality that before this album I would not associate with Trey Azagthoth. Melody they really flow well and compliment Dave's guttural barks. Vocally the song is about embracing evil.
02.Pain Divine: wow the tremolo picked riff that leads into the 1st verse of vocals is f--king awesome the main riff accompanying the vocals isn't too shabby either. But without doubt the standout feature of this track is Pete Sandoval's drumming which best demonstrates why many consider him to be the greatest drummer in extreme metal, his blast beats power through this song and carry the riffs along. Vocally the song is about pain.
03.World Of Shit: a wall of sludge greets your ears as this track begins and Dave Vincent unleashes a torrent of anti christian abuse and condemns the sheep-like mentality of the religion and how it's followers are "gene dead from birth" and "god's holy f--k" the lyrics are probably my fave on the album and are the most evil MA has ever written. The solo is like 'rapture' in that it is really melodic and catchy. The song is half slow/groovy and half fast/thrashy all in all a ripper
04.Vengeance Is Mine: damn still no let up, f--k off it's another great song is what it is. The lyrics are about taking vengeance against the Nazarene which is basically Jesus Christ cool right?. The vocals and solo make this song killer, the riff is similar to rapture and is a great foundation for Trey to launch into one of his most memorable solos ever.
05.The Lions Den: this is the only song on the album that Dave Vincent wrote music for and it's pretty godd but not the best on the album by any means. The lyrics deal with the slaughter of the christians who were fed to lions in the old dayz and about how their god is not there to save them from death.
06.Blood On My Hands: the vocals and lyrics on this song are f--king Grade A. The riffs are solid, the riff leading into the 2nd verse is a great display of tremolo picked riff madness and gets me every time I hear it. Pete's drums really serve the song brilliantly by complimenting the riffs.
07.Angel Of Disease: my favourite song on the album and easily the most diverse. This was originally written before Altars and the vocals have that Alatrs era raspyness as opposed to the guttural barks found throughout this disc. The lyrics are about Sumerian Mythology which is a theme found on earlier releases but the chorus of this song is killer and quite catchy. The riffs have kind of an Iron Maiden style galloping feel at times. This song also marks Morbid Angel's greatest use of changing tempos the solos (of which there are plenty) range from deranged to actually really fluid and catchy. If Morbid Angel had released a studio album before Altars in 89 and Blessed in 91 then this song would fit in between in terms of it's dynamics, vocals and tempos. (btw MA did release Abominations Of Desolation in 1991 which was basically the bands first dig at an album which didn't see the light of day till 5 years after it was recorded). Angel Of Disease features on Abominations and features Mike Browning of Nocturnus on vox. Check it out if you like this one but personal opinion the poor recording quality of Abominations doesn't compare to the Covenat offering and does not capture what is best about this track.
08.Sworn To The Black: great song that lurches forward with a weird echo effect in the background that makes this song sound creepy. Lyrically it is about giving yourself to Satan until your death. Dave's vocals are top notch here very, very, very guttural. The solos are nice and the riff is ok. Pete is almost forgotten about on this track because there is no blasting but his sinister playing adds to the creepiness of the song
09.Nar Mattaru: why this made it to the album I don't know. It is basically 1 minute and a half of ambient noise.
10.God Of Emptiness: Morbid Angels most famous song and it is killer. First of all the vocals are just plain gutteral and evil. Lyrically the song is split into 2 verses part1 the accuser and part2 the tempter. Part 1 is basically one man condemning christianity as a limiting belief. Saying that anyone who offers freedom annoys christians because they cannot control that person.
The key line of vocals here that sum up MA "And all the glory you receive/ so what makes you supreme?" tells us nobody has the right to tell us what 2 do.Pure brilliance from mr Vincent. Part2 flips it around and speaks as the voice of god and basically how religion lures people into it's web by promising the world and taking the only thing that a person truly owns their soul leaving them in "emptiness". The greatest death metal song ever. On an interesting note this song unlike all other MA songs I can think of how no guitar solo. But the 7 string sludge more than makes up for it. Enjoy! // 10
Lyrics: Wow. Dave Vincent really vents his spleen here. The vocals on this album are far more guttural than those on Morbid Angel's previous classic "Blessed Are The Sick" and the lyrics are much more evil and blasphemous as well. Not a hell of a lot of variety in terms of vocal styles except for my favourite track on the album Angel Of Disease which has a more raspy tone reminiscent of Altars. The lyrics are much more offensive than previous offerings but not so offensive that they would be considered black metal, these lyrics discuss conformity, vengeance, pain, emptiness, summoning evil, Sumerian mythology(like previous albums), hatred and contempt for christianity and it's false teachings etc all good stuff and it is made better by David's intense vocal delivery. // 9
Overall Impression: This is in a league of it's own really the songs have their own unique feel and are not hampered by tempos or production at all. The most impressive tracks I think are, God Of Emptiness, Sworn To The Black, Angel Of Disease, World Of Shit and Rapture. My only critisicm is Nar Mattaru which is basically a short ambient noise track because it is so out of place and disrupts the flow of the album. I have this entire album on my mp3 player and computer so if my CD was stolen I would be pissed but also pleased because 1. I have a back up and 2. The person who steals it will hear the greatet death metal band of all time unleashing their ultimate masterpiece that defines all that is great about death metal now and forever. Hail The Ancient Ones. // 10