One of the two best albums of all time. 100%
Duckman | Drifting in the Cosmic Sea | 10/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember listening to this monster several years ago and it knocked me off my feet and it still has that effect now. I've listened to this album many, many times and my love for it only gets stronger after each listen. I'd love to think this is the best album of all time, but this is tied by Nocturnus's "The Key," both albums are SO GREAT, even after listening to both for years, I can't decide which one is better than the other. With the exception of "The Key," I can't possibly think of another death metal album or an album from any form of music that equals or surpasses Morbid Angel's "Altars of Madness." This album was recorded at Morrisound Studio in Tampa, and this is one of the many reasons why I love that studio so much because many of the best death metal albums were recorded there. Also, hats off to painter Dan Seagrave for painting that really sick album cover. He's painted many great covers, but this is one of his best and perfect packaging for such a perfect death metal album.
This is death metal perfection, right from the backward riffs in the beginning of "Immortal Rites" to the haunting, doom-filled ending to "Evil Spells". After five years of several line-up changes (one of the original members being Nocturnus mastermind, drummer and vocalist Mike Browning), Trey Azagthoth got the perfect line-up; consisting of vocalist/bassist David Vincent, second lead guitarist Richard Brunelle, and drummer Pete Sandoval. The line-up was PERFECT and the combo was pure evil. This might as well be the sound of Satan himself and his three henchman consisting of Kato from Doomed Megalopolis, Dr. Weir from Event Horizon, and Emperor Palpatine destroying everyone and everything that is deemed "holy" by the Semitic masses. David's vocal work on this album was his best, but the funny thing is that according to him in an interview, he had a cold when recording the vocals, which was why he sounded so different from the other MA albums he was in, he sounds really raspy on this one. His bass lines aren't that prominent unless if you really listen to them, but when you listen to that sick bass solo in "Suffocation," you know that he's got his stuff down. Trey Azagthoth and Richard Brunelle made the PERFECT guitar team in death metal, both unleash a maelstrom of psychotic, thrashy guitar riffs but can slow things down a little when needed (such as some parts in "Evil Spells"), Richard's solos shred like crazy while Trey's shred as well, Trey's solos are more technical, though needless to say, both styles just make the songs even better. Then there's Pete Sandoval, one of the greatest drummers in death metal, he's not only really experienced, but was really creative in being one of the first drummers to put blast beats in a death metal album (blast beats were used almost exclusively by grindcore bands at the time), and I have to say, his super-fast drumming makes everything else going on in this beast even sicker.
All of the songs are top-notch quality, and the songs are quite varied, too, making them very memorable. "Immortal Rites" has that creepy intro as mentioned earlier and has those really chilling, high-pitched guitar notes after Brunelle's short solo. "Suffocation" has those awesome "blasty" riffs and blast beats after the chorus and that killer bass solo after the two minute mark, which is followed by that creepy verse "It's the dawn of the crucifiers, suffocation!!," really awesome song. "Visions from the Dark Side" has a really savage drum beat underneath most of the song and Brunelle unleashes a psychedelic solo right after Dave grunts "I'm not afraid to face all of their trials-slavery-in the end they'll still have no power over me." Great lyrics, too. Then we get a fan favorite, "Maze of Torment." Maze' has more speed for the speed freaks and has that beloved hypnotic riff set between Brunelle's and Azagthoth's solos towards the end of the song. "Lord of all Fevers and Plague" has a catchy and sick riff set during the part where Dave grunts "Ia iak sakkakh iak sakkakth ia shaxul ia kingu ia cthuli ia azbul ia azabua" then has a set of pummeling riffs right after the second solo, and it has A LOT of crazy guitar solos, I believe this song has the most solos in the album. Then comes probably the most popular song in MA's catalog, "Chapel of Ghouls." It starts with some adrenaline-building riffs then temporarily blasts away under that killer chorus "Crush the priest, the feeble church," followed by another great solo. After the chorus is repeated the second time, it's followed by a screaming solo followed by a creepy instrumental passage that alternates from blast beats galore to some slower riffs that sound like a bunch of people chanting "Oooaaaoooooaaaaoooohhh...," masterful writing. Azagthoth solos some more and comes in some brooding riffs that eventually return to the riffs under the chorus, and ends with a great solo. "Bleed for the Devil" is the shortest and probably the fastest song on the album. Despite being shorter and faster than the other songs, it's another great song because like the other songs, everything from the riffs, solos, vocals, and drums are memorable and catchy. "Damnation" marches in and continues the destruction with some of the best solos on the album followed by some more catchy blasting guitars and drums before and after the chorus. "Blasphemy of the Holy Ghost" is another fan favorite, and for good reason, it's one of the best songs on the album. It starts with some gunshots followed by some insane blast beats with those great lyrics "I am the god of gods, master of the arts, I desecrate the chaste, writhe in the flesh" followed by even more blast beats under the chorus. I especially love the line "No god shall come before me" and "Rise up against the enslaver" as they're so deliciously evil. Now we get to the final song of the album, "Evil Spells." "Evil Spells" is the slowest song on the album because it has almost no blast beats, but the riffs still kick hard, especially during the chorus. There's some slow but hypnotic riffs during the third solo and in between the two last solos in the song. The song ends with Azagthoth soloing over a doom-laden riff and a perfect way to end this masterpiece.
Coming from the first wave of death metal during the late 80's/early 90's, "Altars of Madness" took the at the time perfect principles to making a death metal album and added more speed, brutality, and technicality to the formula while remaining memorable and catchy, something most death metal bands can't do nowadays due to excessive technical wankery, blast beating as fast as possible without any variation within the songs, or abusing Iron Maiden melodies. It's been almost 20 years since Altars' came out and while the masterworks of Death, Nocturnus, Pestilence, Cynic, Atheist, Deicide, and Carcass have come close and even matched Altars', they haven't beaten the album and I don't think it will ever happen. If you're thinking about getting into death metal and reading this, don't hesitate one more second on buying this, you won't regret it one bit. Do look for the special edition that includes a bonus DVD containing the band's whole performance at the Grindcrusher concert in 1989, it's one of the best live shows I've ever seen and a perfect companion to one of the best albums of all time.
BUY IT NOW!!"
This Is Really Awesome
Bill Lumbergh | Initech | 07/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You have to give credit to Morbid Angel for their impact on the Florida death metal scene that rose in the late 80's, but you also have to give them credit for making albums that still amaze the listener, even after over fifteen years since they came out. "Altars of Madness" is Morbid Angel's first full-length, and this album is one hell of a ride through lyrics about the ancient ones and Satan, amazing guitar solos and thrashing riffs by Trey Azagthoth and Richard Brunelle, and everything else that made bands like Slayer and Metallica run for their lives. Dave Vincent's vocals are rather unique and hard to compare, and Pete Sandoval's drumming is excellent. This album deserves all the respect it gets. Believe the hype and purchase "Altars of Madness" if you want relentless vintage death metal."
Morbid Angel's best
Electro-Industrial madness | where else, infront of PC | 06/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album could easily fall into the genre of black metal.
Actually, Infernal do a cover of the song Bleed For The Devil, and it sounds awesome. It can be found on their Summon Forth The Beast EP. If you like Dark Funeral, you'll probably like Infernal, as there a members of Dark Funeral in Infernal, making the 2 bands sound just about the same. Cool bands though.
Anyway, Altars Of Madness is a must own cd for any true death/black metal fan. It is a classic masterpiece."