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Classic Review: Morbid Angel - Altars of Madness
Morbid Angel
Altars of Madness

Label: Earache Records
Year released: 1989
Duration: 51:27
Tracks: 10
Genre: Death Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: January 15, 2003
Reviewed by: Scott Murray
Readers Rating
Altars of Madness

Rated 4.9/5 (97.98%) (89 Votes)

In the vein of genre crossing bands in the field of thrash and early death metal came one of the most monumental debuts from a band who is still making waves today.

Morbid Angel burst onto the scene with Altars of Madness, a collection of 10 songs, which took the sounds of bans like Possessed and Death to the next level. These are the roots of modern day death metal, sprouting and nourishing countless bands for over a decade now.

There are several reasons why Altars of Madness still gets so much airtime on my speakers today, much more than the quote on quote “best metal albums ever period” such as Reign In Blood or Master of Puppets.

This is an album that presents a complex hybrid of two subheadings of heavy metal: thrash at its most popular, and death metal at its origins. Combining classic style guitar soloing with crushing drum blasts and guttural rasps, Morbid Angel were not doing anything original necessarily; but it was the clean cut sound, complex song writing, structuring and the all around kick-assity of their debut that won Trey and the boys their much deserved acclaim.

No matter how many times I play the opening track Immortal Rites it still manages to send chills up my spine once the chilling and majestic guitar bridge kicks in. It’s one of many “soooooo metal” moments that make me fall in love with this disc over and over again.

Songs like Blasphemy and Chapel of Ghouls have that familiar brutal death vibe to them that becomes more apparent in the band’s later works. On the other hand, the album is jam packed with memorable thrash solos that will absolutely floor you; this is a well crafted,precision attack on the senses.

My personal favourite is Maze of Torment, which reaches out and pulls together every aspect of the Morbid Angel sound and pieces it together into one diabolical romp. A catchy guitar intro along with some cymbal crashing gives way to an angry double bass assault that continually resurfaces throughout the duration of the song to whoop you again and again, alongside some standard soloing and pummeling slowdowns.

Looking back on the legacy of Morbid Angel it is an undeniable fact that there is a reason why they are so successful. This is a band whose name demands respect. A band that has never and probably will never suck.

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