Blessed Are The Sick – 1991 – Earache
Abominations Of Desolation – 1991 – Earache
Covenant – 1993 – Giant
Domination – 1995 – Giant
Entangled In Chaos – 1996 – Earache
Formulas Fatal To The Flesh – 1998 – Earache
Gateways To Annihilation – 2000 – Earache
Heretic – 2003 – Earache
Illud Divinum Insanus – 2011 – Season Of Mist
Juvenilia – 2015 - Earache
S= Buried In Cemetery, Terrorizer, Genitorturers>>David Vincent [David Stuppnig]>>Terrorizer, Genitorturers, Nero 54/68, Headcats – Merciless Onslaught, Ceremony>>Steve Tucker>>Ceremony, Undercurrent, Nile – Ceremony, Undercurrent>>Steve Tucker>>Undercurrent, Nile – Buried In Cemetery, Terrorizer, Genitorturers, Nero 54/68>>David Vincent [David Stuppnig]>>Nero 54/68, I Am Morbid, Headcats
G= Richard Brunelle>>Paths Of Possession – Chewing Inc>>TREY AZAGTHOTH [GEORGE EMMANUEL]>>Chewing Inc – Ripping Corpse>>Erik Rutan>>Alas, Hate Eternal - Ripping Corpse, Alas>>Erik Rutan>>Alas, Hate Eternal – Zyklon, Myrkskog>>Destructhor [Thor Anders Myhren]>>Zyklon, Myrkskog
B= Buried In Cemetery, Terrorizer, Genitorturers>>David Vincent [David Stuppnig]>>Terrorizer, Genitorturers – Merciless Onslaught, Ceremony>>Steve Tucker>>Ceremony, Undercurrent, Nile, Shaitan Mazar – Buried In Cemetery, Terrorizer, Genitorturers>>David Vincent [David Stuppnig]
D= Terrrorizer>>Pedro Pete Sandoval>>Terrorizer – Aurora Borealis, Agiel, Pestilence, Hate Eternal, Divine Heresy, World Under Blood, Windbreed, Death Division>>Tim Yeung>>Death Division, Divine Heresy, World Under Blood, Windbreed, Giant Deathsnake, I Am Morbid
One of the pioneers of black and death metal and the Florida death metal scene Morbid Angel was founded in 1984 guitarist by Trey Azagthoth, bassist Dallas Ward and drummer Mike Browning. The band had morphed from ICE (which did not include Ward) and Heretic. The latter name was changed because another Heretic existed. The band would release its debut in 1989 through England’s Earache Records, but had earlier recorded a cancelled LP.
Aside from its pioneering and original status the group is known for being the first death metal act to sign with a major label imprint, for 1993’s Covenant, and as exposed in an interview with Pit Magazine, naming its albums in Latin alphabetical order.
The group was initially formed in 1983 without a vocalist. Mike Browning and Try Azagthoth knew one another from school and Trey knew Dallas Ward. Largo-based Female singer Terri Samuels would sing in 1984. Ward would step up to the mike, but the group would move forward with inviting and recruiting Kenny Bamber who would only last a few months. Ward would be arrested for drugs charges. His replacement Brunelle would meet the same fate many years later. Morbid Angel incorporated covers of Slayer, Angel Witch and Mercyful Fate into its repertoire. Aiming to issue its debut on New Renaissance, Abominations Of Desolation was recorded in 1986 with Mike Browning now on vocals and drums replacing Dallas on the mike. Richard Brunelle is now part of the line-up. This record would be issued only after Blessed Are The Sick. Morbid Angel was unhappy with the recording, but ostensibly wanted to combat bootlegging. Browning had left following the recording in a fight over his girlfriend – a similar story to what would later transpire within Entombed – cheating with Trey with this version of history having this as a reason Abomination… was not issued. Future frontman David Vincent was the producer. The bassist’s Gorque Records had signed the band with the promise of hiring Bill Metoyer to produce the band. It turns out Vincent had actually desired to either make himself a member of Morbid Angel or have Trey join his band. Alternately, versions call this recording Abomination Of Desolation. Johnny Ortega played on the record. This album would later be re-released by Earache and Del Imaginario Discos. Browning was out and Sterling Von Scarborough of Incubus was in replacing Johnny.
Early demos included Scream Forth Blasphemies of 1986 with John ‘Johnny’ Ortega (later of Matricide) on bass. This recording already features known tracks like Chapel Of Ghouls and Unholy Blasphemies. This demo coincides with the aforementioned Abominations Of Desolation album. The band recorded a show for a tape called Bleed For The Devil. Still in the same year Total Hideous Death featured Trey and Richard on “Axe Domination” and Mike Browning bashing and singing. This tape is culled from a Tampa Bay show at Rock City. The 1988 7” single Thy Kingdom Come was issued in Europe through Splattermaniac and was dedicated to Aleister Crowley. Supposedly printed in a limited edition of 666 this vinyl release featured previously heard versions of Thy Kingdom Come and Abominations. Years later Stefan Hanus of Fleshcrawl would boast that he destroyed a copy of this single. Thus, it was impossible that 666 copies remain in existence. Wayne Hartsell was on drums. David Vincent was now on bass and vocals. Vincent replaced the very short tenure of lead vocalist Michael Manson. By this time, Morbid Angel was a leading underground band and well known for its death metal sound and black metal and occult doctrine, which were influenced by the Necronomicon.
The group signed with the fledgling Earache Records of United Kingdom and in May of 1989 issued its debut, Altars of Madness. It hit the top position in a UK independent chart. The record boasted a powerful and original death metal sound punctuated with barking vocals, grinding and double bass drums, disharmonic riffing and extreme soloing. In Morbid Angel style, it began with a backward intro and tributed Satan and demonic occult from start to finish. Oddly, the CD version featured three re-mixed tracks, which to the layman’s ears bore no difference to the originals on the same record. This album was recorded and mixed at Morrisound Recording, Tampa, Florida. The studio would receive a boost in publicity as a result and become even busier with metal acts. The band received a full-page pictorial in Kerrang magazine and showcased an original sound and a penchant for projecting a powerful and polished image. Image was important to the group and Vincent would later advise Entombed to adopt an intentional image as well. A music video was recorded for the song Immortal Rites on stage. The group flew to Europe for the Grindcrusher Tour alongside fellow Earachees Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower and Carcass. Blessed Are The Sick was recorded in January and February of 1991 again at Morrisound Studio in Tampa, Florida. Its cover artwork was taken from the 1894 painting Les Tresors De Satan or ‘The Treasures Of Satan’ by Belgian artist Jean Delville. If it looked familiar to metal fans it was because Swedish speed metal band Hexenhaus had used it for its debut album A Tribute To Insanity only three years earlier. By the end of the touring cycle for the album Morbid Angel completed 171 shows. With little fanfare Richard Brunelle would leave the act and the band would officially continue as a trio. Incubus guitarist Gino Marino would be in, but Brunelle would return and tour with Motörhead and Black Sabbath in the USA before definitively leaving. The band also opened for SOD. Armed with professional management (World Entertainment which managed Nile, Unleashed, Grip Inc and more) and with winds in its sails the group signed with Giant Records, which had Warner Brothers distribution, for the North American market. When three years later the band would get dropped Morbid Angel would insist it would be too expensive for the major label to keep the act. Sales were not as high as the optimistic estimations. Nonetheless, Giant in North America issued Covenant. This label would go out of business several years later. It was recorded at Morrisound Studio, but mixed at Sweet Silence Studio in Copenhagen, Denmark. This is where Metallica had taped its Ride The Lightning and Master Of Puppets record. Covenant included the offbeat God Of Emptiness song, which was soon ridiculed by Beavis And Butthead on MTV. Azagthoth was now officially on guitar and keyboards. Covenant would sell 150,000 copies. The group’s compromised position would be highlighted when in 1994 it would oversee the release of an EP called Laibach Remixes. Two of the bands songs were remixed by Slovenian techno industrial act Laibach. This style would be a harbinger of future band efforts. 1995’s Domination came with an even bigger promotional push. The group was again a quartet now with former Ripping Corpse extreme guitarist Erik Rutan in tow. The new man had joined to support the touring on Covenant. Following its predecessor’s pattern it included a distinct song called Where The Slime Live. Hatework would end the album with keyboards in its midst. Moonspell opened for Tiamat and Morbid Angel in Europe. The band had Kreator and Paradise Lost open for it in Canada. Metal Blade would end up re-releasing this record in 2011. The record may have been a commercial compromise to satisfy a major label and the slowing death metal market, but it was criticized for its songs and, like its predecessor, curious production. Whatever the case, the entrance of Rutan marked the end of the road for David Vincent who was now busing himself with playing bass for his purported bisexual and bondage lifestyle and bisexual girlfriend in Genitorturers. When Pit Magazine would feature David Vincent and Deicide mainman Glenn Benton on its cover the latter man would protest that he was placed on a magazine cover with “a known homosexual.” Deicide and Morbid Angel would tour together in 2001.
Perhaps to buy time and regroup or to satisfy its contract the band next issued a live album. It was recorded live in Europe in 1996 and only officially released on that continent.
Released in February of 1998 Formulas Fatal To The Flesh featured unknown Ceremony singer and bassist Steve Tucker on vocals and bass. Rutan had now departed for his own Hate Eternal. Brunelle would play several shows with the band as well. He would be arrested and jailed several years later for drugs possession. Rutan would return for album number G however. Invocation Of The Continual One was an old song and featured Azagthoth on vocals. Hellspawn was also reworked for the album. With three ‘F’s in the title the record infers 666 as its title as ‘F’ is the sixth letter of the alphabet. Jared Anderson would join the band from Hate Eternal. He would die in 2006. Morbid Angel would tour with Motörhead's in the 2002 summer Hammered tour. Heretic arrived in 2003 and was not well received. This album was reportedly the band’s lowest selling effort since 1989. The band would cryptically fill the album with unnamed tracks. Heretic was taped at DOW Studio in Seffner, Florida. Heretic was also an early name for the band. The group would leave Earache. Despised Icon, Behemoth, Krisiun and Morbid Angel toured in 2006. Tony Norman of Monstrosity would be the group’s second guitarist here for touring purposes, although would be MIA when South American gigs were announced. At this stage somewhat rudderless the band collapsed into hibernation until signing with the French label Season Of Mist. The label also signed Genitorturers. An album was initially promised for 2010. July 2011’s Illud Divinum Insanus, which was preceded by the Nevermore single. The disc was imbued with techno and electronica. The band had toured in Europe in 2008, but a March 5th, 2011 appearance at the Scion Rock Fest in Pomona, California would be its first large show in years in its home country. This performance was its first in the US in six years. The band announced a European tour with label-mates Necrophobic in Europe. In the meantime, however, David Vincent – no longer a blond - was back for the first time since 2004 and fronting the group. Destructhor of Zyklon and Myrkskog was on second guitars. Zyklon had previously participated in the Morbid Angel covers’ album, Tyrants From The Abyss. Kreator, Morbid Angel, Nile and Fueled By Fire announced a European tour beginning November 1, 2012. At the same time, David Vincent was denied entry into Canada at the end of September and was unable to play its two scheduled shows on September 30th in Montreal and October 1st in Toronto.
Drummer Sandoval had left the act to deal with his back problems. He was due to return once rehabilitated. Later, Vincent would criticize the drummer for born-again Christianity and announce the drummer’s definitive departure. The band’s website would continue to feature Sandoval alongside the new drummer. Sandoval would be active in a reformed Terrorizer. The band had announced it would sell a Pete Commando Sandoval T-shirt on upcoming tours to assist the man with his medical bills, but in an interview Sandoval had asserted his disdain for the group’s “DJ, boring awful typical “ album. Tim Yeung was drumming for Morbid Angel. In late 2013, Morbid Angel toured to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Covenant. Morbid Angel played the album in its entirety. Earache released Morbid Angel’s Entangled In Chaos for the first time on vinyl. It would be out on October 2nd of 2015 as part of Earache's First Time On Vinyl series. Former singer and bassist David Vincent had written and was playing live a country song called Buyer Beware. Morbid Angel signed with UDR Music for North America and Europe. A new album was expected in 2017. The death metal forerunners had also been playing techno music recently. Former members David Vincent (vocals and bass) and Tim Yeung (drums) had a project with guitarists Bill Hudson (Circle II Circle, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, etc.) and Ira Black (Metal Church, Lizzy Borden and many more) to play old Morbid Angel songs. The project was called I Am Morbid and had already booked shows in Brazil. Subsequently, Janell Emmanuel, the mother of guitarist Trey Azagthoth posted on a website called Facebook how she objected to David Vincent’s new band and its connection to Morbid Angel. The group would embark on a U.S. tour in May 2017. Opening the shows were Suffocation, Revocation and Withered. The band had recruited Scott Fuller of Annihilated to play drums on its next album, which was being recorded at Mana Recording with former Morbid Angel guitarist Erik Rutan. It was due mid-2017 through UDR Music. Morbid Angel cancelled its European tour in 2017 claiming a member does not possess a passport.
While Azagthoth would profess to Satan often and profess his admiration for Van Halen over the years, Vincent apparently tilts to Fascism and even was rebuffed by Lemmy of Motörhead for it. This is odd behaviour given the presence of his Hispanic band-mates. Tucker’s Ceremony featured Cannibal Corpse guitarist Pat O'Brien. Rutan’s Alas featured Cannibal Corpse bassist Alex Webster.
MORBID ANGEL - GATEWAYS TO ANNIHILATION - EARACHE
MORBID ANGEL - HERETIC - EARACHE
Having only forty-eight hours prior to editorial d(r)eadline to contact, arrange, conduct and write a story on this issues cover artists Morbid Angel, I was in the position of having to compose an introduction with little reflection or time. I entertained thoughts of beginning the story with every thing from a detailed description of the current album, Domination, to a prolonged essay on the history of narcissism. At the end, it became obvious that the most logical choice is also the simplest. Here is the unabridged transcript of Ali "The Metallian's" chat with band founder/guitarist Trey Azagthoth.
METALLIAN: How would you describe it were you to review Domination?
TREY AZAGTHOTH: I think its the greatest. Its the best of death and extreme metal today. Its got the biggest variety of music and the best skill. Its got the fastest songs - beyond the speed of any underground band. Its more brutal. Its got the lower tune songs. Its got everything. The drumming is superior to everything.
METALLIAN: How does this album contrast or compare to your previous efforts?
TREY: [We had] more money and time in the studio. Also we have a new guitar player, Eric Rutan; he did some writing for this. He did a great job. I didnt want him to join and have the band change. What he wrote fits our stuff perfectly.
METALLIAN: Is it a coincidence that your album titles first letters follow an alphabetic progression, from the A of Altars to the D of the current album?
TREY: Um, there is no purpose. There is a purpose for Domination, it means we are going to dominate all other extreme metal bands. Our album is the best. Its over-the-top; it out-sells everybody. Its superior.
METALLIAN: Yes, but can you tell me whether your next albums title will begin with the letter E?
TREY: I dont know.
METALLIAN: Your album is produced by Bill Kennedy (NIN, etc). Why do you insist on employing unconventional producers who have had little or no experience in working with metal?
METALLIAN: I think they are better than the people other bands use. You gotta understand music. You people think you get someone like Scott Burns, because he does death metal. Thats limited. See, we are musicians. Music is music. Sound is sound. Its all the same; its tones. What we need is a guy who can work the equipment in the studio to make our sound come through the speakers so you can hear all the instruments. It doesnt matter if someone can mix death metal. Its not like we need someone to make us sound good. We need a producer or an engineer to come in and help capture our sound on tape - thats it. That simple.
METALLIAN: Do you envision working with Kennedy again, or going back to working with Flemming Rasmussen?
TREY: We are not the kind of band that sticks to formulas. A lot of bands say, We sold a lot of records, so lets do another record just like that. Thats pathetic. All of our records sound different. Weve gone to major label and kicked everybodys ass. We are the only band that has put out videos as powerful as Rapture or God Of Emptiness. We are dusting the competition. Its a fact. Its not a hope. Its not wishful thinking. Check it out: listen to our songs and compare em with any other band that plays anything considered extreme, and you be the judge. Our album devastates all these other bands. Ive heard them; they sound the same. They dont have any imagination, and their drumming is boring. They dont know anything about groove or feeling - its just a bunch of noise. The other bands follow trends and scenes, we dont do that. We play for ourselves. We dont give a shit what anyone thinks about us. People are too busy following. Thats sheepish.
METALLIAN: Dont you worry that once I put your statements on paper, people will find you arrogant and in possession of a big ego?
TREY: I am not just talking words. I am talking fact. Who else has blast-beats, is on a major label and has such abominable music? Who else has a record with as much diversity? There is nobody. Thats not arrogance! Arrogance is someone who talks a bunch of shit and cant walk the walk. A lot of people can talk, but I know everything that I am saying is backed by fact. I believe in feeling phenomenal about your own ability. My band is the best; its the best by my definition.
METALLIAN: I know you did not write the lyrics, but let me ask, is there a motif of Darwinian supremacy running through the album? Could that correctly be interpreted as the concept of the album?
TREY: Morbid Angel says, think for yourself and dont follow. A lot of people like what their friends like because its cool. Thats foolish. There are a lot of organizations that want people to be followers, but when you are following you cant lead. I am telling everyone to lead; Morbid Angel leads. We are an example of leadership. We believe in ourselves, and thats what we are telling everyone to do. I just get bored with people who are so trendy they dont even know that they like.
METALLIAN: Fine, but how can everyone lead? If every one leads, then there will be no followers, which in turn, means there will be no one to lead.
TREY: Everyone should lead themselves. The bottom line is lead. Control yourselves. If you dont control your mind and emotions someone else surely will, and you might not like what they are doing for you. The whole concept of Morbid Angel is that we are the weapon that crushes organizations that steal peoples dreams--like organized Christianity. They want to change things, and I dont think they have the right to change anything but themselves. They say if you dont follow Christ you will go to Hell, and I think thats simple-minded.
METALLIAN: A couple of your songs are rather off-beat. I am talking about God Of Emptiness or Hatework. Has anyone mentioned to you that these are boring?
TREY: Ive never noticed anyone like that. Let me tell you something: I write for myself. Everything I do for this band is for myself, personally. I am Morbid Angels biggest fun. I love this band more than anyone. The second phase of that is to share it. If they dont like it, then I dont give a shit. The whole thing is, we sell more records than everybody else in this kind of music. More people like us than like Deicide, or whoever.
METALLIAN: I am curious to know how your being on two different labels simultaneously works. What is the arrangement?
TREY: Its just the way we have things going. The whole thing is that we have it in contract that we rule. Thats the bottom-line. You must have a contract that says that band does what the band does and the label does what the label does. We are leaders. There are no other bands that have a deal with a major label like that. No bands of our caliber, anyway. We have some of the greatest deals ever. We are very intelligent about what we are doing. We are not the type of people to drink beer and float through life doing whatever. We have our direction set. Thats the way we want it.
METALLIAN: Do you reckon that so many bands, therefore, envy you?
TREY: Yeah, whatever. What they should do is role model us. If we are doing better than they are, they should see what it is that got us here. And Ill tell you what it is: believing in yourself and not being concerned with what anyone else does. Other peoples limitations are not my limitations. People are so busy following that they cant let their power come out. Everyone has the same potential, but they dont have any conviction. A lot of people dont even know that they have a spirit. We have higher standards than a lot of these bands. Ive met a lot of these people; Ive seen their records. Ive seen the way their labels treat them and they are out of control. They have to master themselves. That doesnt mean arrogance, it just means believing in yourself. People are too cool to be enthusiastic about anything. People are too cool to step out and do something that other people might not approve of! People dont want to stand out - well, I do want to stand out. Morbid Angel stands out, big time.
METALLIAN: Finally, you are going to tour with Grip Inc. Was this your (the bands) choice or simply a function of the bands common management company?
TREY: I am not into their style of music, but who else is there to tour with? I dont get anything from any of these death metal bands. I think they are all boring. I want to tour with whatever is going to make the best show. Grip Inc.s drummer, Dave Lombardo, was in Slayer, and a lot of Slayer fans might come. To me its just like, whatever. Hopefully well open for Metallica soon. You think that would be boring? Well, that just shows that youre not thinking like me. If we play with Metallica, well play in front of a lot more people. And thats not selling out, because our music is more brutal and faster than any other band. We are total death metal like nobody can imagine doing right now. Why not play for thousands of people? Whats wrong with that? Its all about success. A lot of people have this confused. They think weve sold out. Thats just pathetic, those people are just puppets. Whats real is that I make more money than these other bands. My music is more brutal and more talented than any of these other bands. We are faster, heavier than any underground band and we sell more records than anyone else in this style. We have more musical power, more personal power, et cetra. See, we are winning. We are absolutely successful. These people who have a problem with us being on a major label - fuck them. Go listen to your demo band. Whatever demo band they listen to, Morbid Angel crushes them. I am talking death metal too. If we are selling a lot of records that means death metal is selling a lot of records. That doesnt mean that, like Sepultura, weve changed our style to sell more records. Weve changed nothing. We spend more money to make our music sound better, but our music is still fast. Its destruction and more. Let me tell you another thing: We know more about this than anybody else, so nobody can tell us what to do. People have to be better than us to tell us anything, and there is nobody better than us. All the bands that sell more records than us are not death metal, and we will never do records like them. The fans should understand that. OK? We are the band that is making death metal bigger than anybody even could. Death have changed their style; Deicide are death metal, but they are flopping. Their albums are not selling and their tours are bombing. Morbid Angel is magic; its not about talking a cross and burning it into your head, or shit like that. I am talking about productive, useful things that are real. Playing like a demon is not easy; anybody can make a bunch of noise. I am not arrogant, I just know that I work harder to do what I do than anybody does. I am the heavy-weight champion of this music. There is nobody that can come close. There is no competition. Our bands about winning. We are superior - thats the way it is. Death metal fans should love our band.
This interview initially appeared in Pit Magazine No. 14.
If you enjoyed this, read Fleshcrawl