Sound — 9
After appaering like a beacon on the metal landscape with 1989's masterful Altars Of Madness, Morbid Angel return with an ambitious follow up which stretches the limits of extreme music. Blessed are the sick features slower, groovier and slightly creepier songs compared to the debut. Interesting to note that there is also a very strong classical music influence on the songs in particular the 4 instrumentals which create a really great classical/death metal hybrid. Here are the tracks: 01. Intro: a minute and a half of ambient noise which slowly builds leading to... 02. Fall From Grace: this baby is just plain brutal. It begins with a slow creepy almost pantera groove riff which slowly melds into this fast paced riff that is complimented by pete's lightning fast double bass and blasts/fills that end each riff sequence. This song best displays what the album represented after the debut where the band treid to compine the slow groovy stuff with fast paced riff-fests. Riffs, Drums , Solos, Feel 10/10 03. Brainstorm: pretty short but fuck me dead is this bastard fast. The band received some heat from people when this album was released because they thought the band sold out by adding the slower grooves. Those fuckwits obviously haven't heard this song and that's their loss. Intersting side note, according to Trey in the linear notes this song and Thy Kingdom Come were actually faster than anything on altars. Listen to the blast beats and double bass in this song it's just plain awesome. My only complaint is that it's a little short at 2 and a half minutes but imagine playing this live every night if it was the first song in the set you would be passed out from exhaustion after it. 04. Rebel Lands: after the heart attack pace of brainstorm this song just grooves along complimented by some really sweet solos and is much more of a mid paced song. David Vincent said in the linear notes that he dedicated the lyrics on this song to "the souls of babylon". Make of that what you will. Good song but not the best. 05. Doomsday Celebration: a minute and a half of keyboards. Very classical sounding but it also sounds like music played at a funeral Not my fave. 06. Day Of Suffering: 2 minutes of sheer brutality. The song begins with kind of a lame repeating riff, but when the band fucks that riff off and launches into full thrash assault the song takes off. My only complaint is mainly the length of the song because it ends just as it starts to get good. 07. Blessed Are The Sick/Leading The Rats: slow paced sludgly bastard of a tune that ends with a classical organ (or .....something). Anyway, this is one of the best mid paced death metal that many a 90's band would try to emulate. This track also marks the first MA music video that gained a degree of noteriety in the metal world and was ultimately banned due to nudity but check it out on youtube it's pretty cool as is the song that bore it. 08. Thy Kingdom Come: great riffs driven by pete sandoval's ridiculously tight drumming. About half way through the song the song violently shifts gears and David Vincent spits forth lyrics faster than he can think them up until some searing solos end this memorable tune. 09. Unholy Blasphemies: wow I mean wow the riffs are just fast and groovy, the lyrics dark and violently anti christian, tremolo picked riffs, pulsating drum work, this must be a Morbid Angel anthem. You bet this song simply rules except for the title but who cares what's it's called just love it... f--ker. 10. Abominations: beginning with a fucked up solo this mid pacer is just plain awesome featuring some of the best lyrics on the album and lead breaks aplenty. This song I place with fall from grace in terms of the riffing one minute it's a mid paced shuffle then whaddya know they pull out a galloping rhythm complete with pinch harmonics. Great use of changing tempos and rhythm structures. 11. Desolate Ways: this is the only song that forgotten MA guitarist Richard Brunelle wrote for the 2 records he plays on and this is no joke in my opinion one of the greatest, softest most tender acoustic interludes you will ever hear. 2 minutes of pure melody and passion. If richard brunelle based a career on playing acoustic songs like ghis he would have been hailed as a genius instead he left this band and spent time in prison on drug charges damn now that's a fall from grace for you. This song also continues the classical influence shown throughout the record. I was slightly disappointed that Trey didn't really do much acoustic stuff along these lines after blessed, he did more keyboard driven ambient stuff but guitar fans should give this a listen you had better not be disappointed or there must be something wrong with you. I will demand this masterpieve played at my funeral. 12. The Ancient Ones: begins with a lead break trade off sounds delightfully fucked up. Good song that again fiddles with mid paced tempos and odd time signatures. Pete's drums rule throughout. Good song but not the best. I will say that it's the most adventurous song the band had recorded to date though. 13. In Remembrance: I mentioned above that I wished that trey performed some acoustic stuff but this is his answer to it a classical piano solo. Sheer f--king brilliance that again.
Lyrics — 8
Gone are the raspy black metal shrieks of the debut album and in their place is a low growl that suits the lyrics really well. I honestly didn't pay as much attention to the vocals as I did the lyrics. The lyrics have changed from the previous release as well as blessed explores both the carnal side of human nature (the title track and fall from grace), sumerian mythology and occasionally the odd anti christian taste of the previous (and next 1993's Covenant) albums. Some of the lines on certain songs are just cool eg "Infant entrails are hung upon the twisted cross". Or maybe " Ghouls who pray the death of god/destroy Jehovah's church/ vomit upon the cross/burn the book of lies"(both from unholy blasphemies). Pretty cool huh.
Overall Impression — 9
This was probably one of the great follow up records ever..Big call huh. Well I often compare the progression to the one metallica made after kill em all when they released ride the lightning which had more diverse and progressive material. Blessed will piss off some people who love all out 200 bpm songs like the tunes on altars and while this album isn't as good an covenant it still is a bold step in a new direction. Best tracks would be fall from grace, blessed are the sick, DESOLATE WAYS, abominations, in remembrance and unholy blasphemies. If you plan to purchase this album I would reccomend buying the reissue that was released in Nov 09 which features a bonus making of DVD documentary. Recommend to fans of: Pantera, Sepultura/Soulfly, Deicide, Slipknot, Nile, Entombed, Napalm Death, Gojira.