Formed in 1983 and run by guitarist Trey Azagthoth, Morbid Angel is one of the biggest death metal bands of all time. Their distinct riffs, powerful drums, and dark atmospheres have kept them a favorite among metal fans young and old. To celebrate the band’s body of work this new installment of Alternative Nation’s “Ranked up” series will focus on Morbid Angel. This list will include studio albums only.
9.Illud Divinium Insanus (2011)
Often called the St. Anger of death metal, the band’s most recent album is a total train wreck. The album was hyped up due to eight years with no new Morbid Angel albums and the return of iconic vocalist David Vincent. When the album was finally released, it was met with heavy criticism and memes bashing it all over the net. Morbid Angel tried to experiment with industrial. Now if Morbid Angel took influence from bands like Throbbing Gristle, Foetus, or Skinny Puppy, this album could have been awesome. But instead they mix in cheesy Vampire Freaks.com industrial and end up sounding close to nu-metal (in 2011!). The album’s mind numbing lyrics (such as “kill a cop kill a kill a kill a cop”) make it even worse.
8. Heretic (2003)
Released three years after the amazing Gateways to Annihilation, Heretic was a huge step backwards. The style of this album is that of your usual later Morbid Angel release minus the memorable song writing. None of the songs really stand out and it just feels like a disappointment after how good the last one was. After this album vocalist Steve Tucker would leave the band and join the awesome super group Nadar Sadek. He would return to Morbid Angel in 2015. This is also the last album to feature drummer Pete Sandoval as he would leave in 2010.
7. Domination (1995)
Joined by former Ripping Corpse guitarist Erik Rutan, Domination was the band’s attempt at a more commercial sound. The album sounds overly polished,downed down and one dimensional. With that said the songs ,”Dominate“, “Where the Slime Live“, and “Dawn of the Angry” are still solid tracks. After this album Erik Rutan would leave and form Hate Eternal, only to return to Morbid Angel in 2000. David Vincent would also leave the band and not return untill 2004.
6. Abominations of Desolation (1991)
Recorded in 1986 this was supposed to be the band’s debut album, but was scrapped because the band did not like the end product. In 1991 the band’s then label Earache records decided to release it due to their new found popularity. The line up on this release included Trey Azagthoth on guitar, John Ortega on bass, Richard Brunelle on guitar and Mike Browning on both drums and vocals and was produced by David Vincent. All of the songs except for “Demon Seed” would appear on later albums. This album is a fun listen mostly to hear how classics like “Chapel of Ghouls” originally sounded. After this album Mike Browning would leave to form Nocturnus. John Ortega would also leave, but not really go on to join or form any band.
5. Formulas Fatal to the Flesh (1998)
After Domination took them in a bad direction, Formulas got the band back on their feet. Out was David Vincent and in came Steve Tucker who proved he was a better vocalist (yes you read that right!). The satanic lyrics of the first four were replaced with lyrics based on Sumerian and Lovecraftian deities with some of the lyrics even being in Sumerian. This theme would follow on all of the Tucker era albums. The album’s musical sound is very similar to that of Covenant but with more extreme vocals. Highlights include the thick sounding “Prayer of Hatred”, the semi anime inspired “Hymn to the Gas Giant” and the haunting tune “Hellspawn: The Rebirth“.
4. Blessed are the Sick (1991)
This sophomore effort is known for creating the band’s signature sound. The album is slow paced although contains some very fast riffs and has overtones from goth and classical music. This style would follow the band on most later releases. Some of the best tracks from here include “Desolate ways” ,”Blessed are the Sick”, and “Day of Suffering“.
3. Covenant (1993)
Morbid Angel’s third album is their most well known and their first taste of mainstream success. The album was put out by Giant records, a division of Warner Bros making it the first death metal album to be put out by a major label. The music continues the style that the previous album started but speeds it up slightly. The lyrics are the band’s most satanic to date and the song “God of Emptiness” was featured on an episode of Beavis and Butthead. Some other classic’s from this album include “Vengeance is Mine, “Rapture“, and “Angel of Disease“. In 2013 the band celebrated the 20th anniversary of this album though even when not celebrating it, plenty of songs are bound to appear in the band’s setlist.
2. Altars of Madness (1989)
One of the most iconic death metal releases of all time, Altars of Madness is a classic from front to back. Here on the band’s true debut album (not counting Abominations) Morbid Angel plays their original trashy and slightly technical death metal. Here the world got the first real taste of Trey’s amazing guitar work, Pete’s insane drumming and David’s demonic vocals on classics such as “Chapel of Ghouls“, “Immortal Rites“, “Maze of Torment” and Lord of All Fevers and Plagues“. Many music magazines and websites to this day still list it as one of the best death metal albums of all time, with a few even giving it the number one slot.
1. Gateways to Annihilation (2000)
While Covenant will always be remembered as the band’s most well known release and Altars of Madness as their most important, Gateways to Annihilation is Morbid Angel’s musical peak. With Steve Tucker on vocals, Erik Rutan returning on guitar and the combined might of Trey and Pete we get the ultimate Morbid Angel song writing team. The album’s style is much slower than any other album by the band and is heavy on atmosphere. The guitar tuning is extremely low giving the riffs are really chunky and give off a crushing sound. Erik and Trey’s lead solos bring on a feeling of destruction and chaos. Now that Steve Tucker is back in the band hopefully we will see a proper follow up to this masterpiece of music. Summoning Redemption, I and Ageless Still I Am are the best tracks from this album.