Morbid Angel – “Altars of Madness”


The making of Morbid Angel’s “Altars of Madness”

released: 1989

label: Earache


The sweltering heat and merciless humidity of mid- to late-‘80s Florida proved a fertile breeding ground for a burgeoning genre that would announce itself to the world as death metal. Led by Chuck Schuldiner and Death, the DM Army proliferated quickly, as bands like Obituary, Deicide and Morbid Angel emerged full-grown from the Floridian swamplands to compete for the title of Fastest, Heaviest, or Most Technical Band on Earth. Morbid Angel guitarist and mastermind Trey Azagthoth would settle for no less than all three on his band’s 1989 debut, Altars of Madness. After recording—and shelving—the Abominations of Desolation LP in 1986 with Altars guitarist Richard Brunelle and an assortment of other musicians who were summarily fired, Azagthoth and Brunelle hooked up with bassist/vocalist David Vincent and Terrorizer drummer Pete Sandoval and prepared to tear death metal a steaming new asshole with unorthodox time signatures, dizzying arrangements and hallucinogenic shredding. Forgoing the gore-bore lyrical style favored by many of their peers, Vincent and Azagthoth pored over the Necronomicon (“The Book of Dead Names”)—an allegedly ancient occult text that H.P. Lovecraft (who probably authored the book himself in the late 1920s) claimed was written in 730 AD by “the Mad Arab” Abdul Alhazred—while Sandoval honed his double-bass chops. In early 1989, Morbid Angel entered Morrisound Studios in Tampa to record Altars of Madness, an album that would turn death metal both upside down and inside out.

—J. Bennett

To read the entire article, purchase this issue from our online store.