Altars Of Madness review by Morbid Angel

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  • Released: May 12, 1989
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.3 (29 votes)
Morbid Angel: Altars Of Madness

Sound — 9
Morbid Angel are without a doubt one of the most important bands of the entire death metal scene. With the release of Altars of Madness in 1989, Morbid Angel showed that they intended to become masters of their scene. After recording and then scraping their first album, Abominations of Desolation the band recruited some new members and proceeded to write some new songs, record them and then re-record some of the those from Abominaions. The soul of this band is without a doubt guitarist Trey Azagthoth. Azagthoth and co guitarist Richard Brunelle are the only returning members from the abandoned Abominations sessions. Azagthoth is the the one behind the bands crushing riffs, such as the awesome riffs in the intro of Immortal Rites, and Maze of Torment, not to mention just about every riff in Chapel of Ghouls. The solos of both Azagthoth and Brunelle can best be described with the words wah and whammy bars, but the chaotic soloing only adds to the intensity of the songs. On bass and vocals we have new member and former Terrorizer bassist/producer David Vincent. Vincent's bass playing is pretty silent save for a brief solo in Suffocation. His vocals sound much raspier and not as deep as on later releases, sounding almost black metal-ish, but this is in no way a negative. Rounding out the lineup we have the amazing Pete Sandoval also formerly of Terrorizer. Sandoval's drumming sounds amazing and apparently he didn't learn how to use double bass until right before the album was recorded, but you would never be able to tell when listening, a true testament to Pete's abilities as a drummer. With this being a death metal album from the late 80's you know the production is bound to not be very good, but hey death metal was meant to sound raw and nasty am I right?

Lyrics — 7
The lyrics are handled completely by Vincent and Azagthoth, drawing upon the works of HP Lovecraft and various Satanic writers. Most of the lyrics are anti-God and pro-Satan as Azagthoth has spent a lot of time studying Satanism. The unique thing about Morbid Angel is that they also include Summerian mythological ideas in their lyrics. For example Lord Of All Fevers And Plague includes references to Summerian gods and even lyrics that are actually said in the Summerian language (at least I think it's Summerian).

Overall Impression — 9
With this album Morbid Angel found itself at the top of the death metal mountain. The band would continue to release good albums until the loss of David Vincent after the release of Domination in '95. Fortunately he returned to the band in 2004 and the band is supposed to release a new album this year, however I think that this album would be the band's pinnacle. Simply put this album is worth getting just for the awesome riffs that Trey Azagthoth unleashed on this album. If it were stolen from me I definitely get another copy.

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    8!?!?! 8!?!?! blasphemy!!! its up with symbolic by death as one of the best death metal releases! i saw them at the astoria this july with dave, and they only played stuff from altars up to domination, was so crushing