Morbid Angel
Heretic


4.0
excellent

Review

by Voivod STAFF
September 25th, 2010 | 370 replies


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Extreme music and attitude that lie within the interfaces.

I quote from the first page of the album’s booklet:

Her-e-tic…(n. her΄i tik) (…) 3. anyone who does not conform with an established attitude, doctrine or principle.

If someone asked me to describe in a nutshell, the nature of the musical content in Morbid Angel’s most recent album, Heretic, I would start decoding the symbolic nature of the album’s front cover and I would rest my case. It doesn’t happen so often that a record’s cover can tell so much about the music in it. Therein lies Lilith, the goddess of heretics’ hordes, followed by two human owls, the universal symbol of wisdom. Her reflection, however, when processed through the band’s interface mirror, is blurred and distorted.

Isn’t that – the blurring and the distortion of extreme metal – the practice of Morbid Angel all these years?

In this contribution, the band continues to defy everything and everyone, including its own achievements and goes red on every aspect. The ingredients are the same; however their ingenious mixing is where it's at. The dynamics and the intensity of this record lie barely within reasonable description, combining the legacy of Altars of Madness with the overall progress the band has made all these years. This approach could be described as “tech death metal”, however, this tag is so poor in characterizing Heretic in its entirety. And that’s because the band introduces, for the first time in such a great extent, elements that are alien to extreme metal in general. Morbid Angel constitutes one of those few bands that are in control of the musical form used in their work and not the other way around. The mesmerizing ambient/doom/noise/industrial vapor clouds of “Places of Many Deaths” and the wonderful psychedelic interludes, which use ambient/industrial noise or electric rock and/or classical instrumentation, constitute an interesting musical dipole with the band's extreme metal persona and blur the band’s “true” death metal status, albeit Morbid Angel may loosely be characterized as such.

The band’s decision to include short and separate guitar solos or instrumental versions of some of the “regular” songs, as hidden tracks, could stand as a clear mark of its conviction towards the consensus held by the music industry in fully dictating the overall character of record releases. The incorporation of a second compact disc in the release package stands as a token of gratitude to their fan base and an enforcement of the band’s attitude.

Pete Sandoval sets new standards with every new Morbid Angel release. His drumming on Heretic is simply inhuman. He outperforms himself by a huge margin and with respect to the rest of the top notch extreme metal drummers. He races against himself only, period. In order to grasp the magnitude of his achievement, one should place his drum adaptations under direct comparison with the rehearsal versions of the songs in the second compact disc, where a drum machine is used. Needless to say that he outperforms the drum machine easily. His talents, though, spread over the avant-garde aura of this album as well, as he plays the piano on one or two interlude tracks, showing remarkable skill. Trey is totally out of control on this record. With his performance, he gives a new meaning to the term “odd time signatures”, going from one riff to another or changing the time signature of the same riff.

Influences from black metal are obvious here and there in his lead guitars, however, they don’t interfere with his regular (sic) death metal riffing. The sector, however, in which he truly excels is the soloing. His solos are so abstract, yet well structured, so psychedelic, yet intense. He truly shreds his guitar, although he is not taking it too far at all. In the complimentary compact disc, there are some rehearsal versions of those solos that show the enormous degree of difficulty in playing them. Last but not least by any means, Steve Tucker. Tucker vocals are standing tall in every song. One thing that is remarkable with his growls is that he can alter his pitch from low to high within a split second (listen to Enshrined by Grace). Other than that, he performs with full force, although he doesn’t possess the voice stretch that David Vincent had.

The production of this record will be a subject of intense debate. Instead of the immense “Morrisound” sound production the band usually had in its previous releases, Trey and his fellow mates decide to give a fuzzy, yet crisp shade to the way instruments and voices sound. Although the guitars (more than) obviously lack in volume, they surprisingly gain in clarity, possibly because the riffs here are so complex and so quickly replaced by others within a song, that they would “vanish” with a ultra low end sound production. Furthermore, the fuzz in the guitars could possibly be related to the aforementioned sparse black metal influences on Trey Azagthoth’s way of riffing here and to the eccentricity of songs like “Places of Many Deaths”. The vocals and the rhythm section are fairly balanced with respect to the guitars. Overall, it may take some time for listeners to get used to the way guitars sound here, but it must be stated that the eccentric production further adds to the heretic character of this record.

All in all, Morbid Angel once again push the boundaries of their craft further, being a lot more eccentric than usual. Morbid Angel is a dependable band and the only thing that troubles me is the next album’s title, starting from the letter I…



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user ratings (464)
Chart.
2.9
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2010


7577 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Album stream: http://morbid-angel.bandcamp.com/album/heretic



Constructive criticism is most welcome.



Remember that negging involves whether this review is well written or not and not whether a user agrees with the point of view of the reviewer.

Digging: Urarv - Aurum

Athom
Emeritus
September 25th 2010


17241 Comments


i like pretty much everything else from morbid angel but this one rubs me the wrong way.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2010


7577 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This is excellent, once you get used to the sound production imo.

ShadowRemains
September 25th 2010


24786 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

good review



don't like the album though



they can do so much better...

Gorification
September 25th 2010


1124 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

great review. this is their worst album though, imo.

Gorification
September 25th 2010


1124 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

pretty much.

scissorlocked
September 25th 2010


3527 Comments


Wtf??Am I the only one who enjoys this??I think it's another great input in their extremely interesting discography

keep up the good work Voivod,I truly agree with the first paragraph

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2010


7503 Comments


Good review. I didn't understand the summary though, and felt that there was perhaps just a bit too much emphasis on the technical capabilities of the band members (although doing that isn't necessarily a bad thing).

That's my two cents.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2010


7577 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

@ Irving



if you listen to the album, you will understand why there is so much emphasis.



As i say in the review, the band goes red in terms of song writing, in terms of member performance, in terms of production, in terms of artwork, etc.



It is by far the most provoking record Morbid Angel ever issued.



I don't understand why is it so hard for metal fans into death metal to enjoy songs like "Beneath the hollow" or "God of our own divinity".



the summary means that it is hard to file them under a certain music tag.







@ scissorlocked



thanx for the feedback man. No we are not the only ones here that go off with the album. There is a considerable amount of Sputnik users who rated this from 3.5 and above.











Before i write this review, i was 100% sure that somebody would neg lol

IRAI
September 25th 2010


1567 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

drum check is my favorite song on this.

Rugter32
September 25th 2010


754 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Drum Check is badass.

Not their best, but not too bad.

Covenant and Altars>>>>>>>>

XulOnerom
September 25th 2010


1818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

My thoughts exactly, Rugter.



Although "Enshrined By Grace" and "Curse The Flesh" are two of the best Morbid Angel songs ever

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 26th 2010


7577 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Pete is on top of ALL drummers.

Undead
September 26th 2010


145 Comments


I was hoping someone would review this soon.
Good job.

Wizard
September 27th 2010


20114 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

In this contribution, the band continues to defy everything and everyone, including its own achievements and goes red on every aspect. The ingredients are the same; however their ingenious mixing truly delivers once again.



So very true.



The production of this record will be a subject of intense debate. Instead of the immense “Morrisound” sound production the band usually had in their previous releases, Trey and his fellow mates decide to give a fuzzy, yet crisp shade to the way instruments and voices sound.



Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. If any of you seriously debated this, you should just go kill yourself right now for being so dumb.



Really good review dude, I like the some of those facts you through in about the album cover and whatnot. Great album, haters can fuck right the fuck off.



XulOnerom
September 27th 2010


1818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Are you sure you can post the entire album in Youtube links like that??? You don't wanna get banned, brother

Terrifyer
September 27th 2010


3403 Comments


yea i would remove those. anyone with at least a few brain cells will be able to find the videos themselves anyway

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2010


7577 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i have done this in my previous reviews as well, and none of the mods or the staff told me not to.



If i was to be banned, i wouldn't write this message right now.



On the other hand, if it's officially forbidden to post youtube links, i will remove them from my reviews.



I just put them so that someone can listen to the album while reading the review.





:edit01: i deleted them, just in case.









:edit02: i just spoke to Trey Spencer from Staff.



He told me that Youtube links are okay, but the direct download links AREN'T.

lostforwords
October 22nd 2010


447 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Very good review really. However I'm not the biggest fan of this album, maybe I've never listened to it as carefully as it needed.

Blessed and Covenant,best Morbid albums

YUJOS
May 21st 2011


1003 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

2 Points i would like to mention. First: Songs like Places of Many Deaths and Memories Of The Past ( which by the way are bad songs ) also existed in their previous albums (which still are good songs ). Partyicullary, Memories of The Past reminds of Desolate Ways from Blessed Are The Sick and Places of Many Deaths reminds me also of Hatework from Domination. Morbid Anelg always experimented with their sound, but the "experimental songs" on Heretic are bad imo. Second Point: you are mentioning that "The band’s decision to include short and separate guitar solos or instrumental versions of some of the “regular” songs, as hidden tracks, could stand as a clear mark of its conviction towards the consensus held by the music industry in fully dictating the overall character of record releases. The incorporation of a second compact disc in the release package stands as a token of gratitude to their fan base and an enforcement of the band’s attitude.." I agree with that but Morbid Angel have forgotten us when they fist released Formulas Fatal To The Flesh which didn't have the bonus CD "Love Of Lava"



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