Morbid Angel
Altars of Madness



by superpeer USER (22 Reviews)
January 17th, 2005 | 3541 replies

Release Date: 1989 | Tracklist

Morbid Angel is probably one of the biggest and most famous bands in the Death metal genre, their album sales are what you can call a small commercial success. Appreciated by a lot of extreme metal fans, you can probably find at least one of their records in every Death metal fan's collection and with what they've made in their career, they certainly deserve it. This is their debut full length. An enjoyable listen, but, with ups and downs. But it was surely a key album in the history of Death Metal after it's release in '89.

I shall start by saying that this record has a low budget production, but that is actually a good thing. I like this sound a lot : It sounds very raw and this adds to the evilness that is Altars of Madness. That's a major advantage of the album, it's very evil. A big part in the evilness is carried by the vocalist; Morbid Angel has had quite a few vocalists, however I, and many other MA fans, think that David Vincent is clearly their best. His performance on this album is splendid, he doesn't have a deep growl, it's more something that I would call 'A tortured scream from an ancient ghoul' and this is exactly what he wanted, I'm sure of it. At certain points he even does such a good job that he scares you; Screaming out "Satan! In the fire of hell awaits" over a heavy riff.

The lyrics aren't very surprising on this album, they are pure evil and a chorus in the Ancient Sumerian Language certainly helps. You shall certainly find words like 'Satan', 'Evil' and 'Darkness' in the booklet.

The trump on this album is most likely the highly technical and outstanding performance of the musicians. I can't say that the bass is very audible except for a little mini solo in 'Suffocation'.

Two lead guitarists, that promises fireworks, no doubt. They certainly fulfill that promise, at least riffwise. Technical riff after Heavy power chord riff and changing constantly, you will certainly remain entertained. I'm not saying that there is a lack of solos on this album, au contraire, mes amis. There are at least 2 or 3 solos or mini solos on each song, both guitarists do their part in the lead work. However they're not very memorable, if you took out all the solos and asked me to tell you which song they belong in, I wouldn't be able to tell you. There are a few exceptions, but generally speaking it's just speed and no melody and you probably won't be humming these things whilst walking the streets. But they add to that typical Altars of Madness sound.

All my respect to Pete Sandoval, the drumming is absolutely sublime. Blast beats, double bass and drum fills, all over the place. He is a very talented drummer, speed being his main power. If this doesn't get you headbanging, I'm assuming you're unfortunately paralysed.

Now this album isn't all lollipops and rainbows, there's a significant flaw on it. The lack of variation is very apparent. Apart from the chants in 'Chapel of Ghouls' and the Creepy horror sounds and reversed guitars in 'Immortal Rites' and perhaps the slightly more melodic riffing in 'Visions from the Dark Side' the songs are very similar. This probably rules the entire album out for people that don't like the genre. Melody is also something that you shouldn't seek on this, it has some hints of melody at most.

I own the re-released version, but if you already own the original it's probably not a good idea to buy this, it gets you a nice bonus track : 'Lord of all Fevers and Plague', but the re-mixes aren't really all that different from the originals aside from slightly altered solos. Only for huge fans.

Recommended songs :

Immortal Rites: As described before this is a very evil song, you'll see
Chapel of Ghouls : Probably the best song on the album, with it's catchy (yes !) chanting section, evil lyrics and awesome riffs.
Damnation : Just a great song.

Conclusion : A great album, but with hardly any variation. Personally, I don't mind being hit around the ears with killer riffs and brutal drumming, but some might.

Recommended to fans of Old School Death Metal. 4/5

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user ratings (1908)
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Altmer (4.5)
    Domination. Slaughter. Satan. You know this, you love this, you need this album....

    BalSagoth (5)
    The album is a revolutionary one, as it had an immense impact on the course of metal. Tw...

    ZombicidalMan (5)
    Altars Of Madness is an album that, at one time, pushed the limits of metal, and changed t...

    DragonHeartstring (4)
    Essential early death metal that marks a step forward for the genre but is unfortunately v...

  • dopevoid (2)
    Influential? Of course. Good? Hardly....

    TheEnigmaPrognosis (3)
    The album in which every other in the genre is judged by, for better or for worse....

Comments:Add a Comment 
June 6th 2005


Album Rating: 4.0

Sorry to be bumping all my reviews, but I'm editing the terrible lay-out.

Freezing Moon
June 6th 2005


Cool review. I love this album, one of my favorite MA albums.

December 10th 2005


Nice review. Doesn't looke like it got a lot of attention though. :/

Good CD too.

December 19th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

The best Morbid Angel album.Also the most important death metal album alongside Deicide's self-titled.

December 20th 2005


Album Rating: 4.0

The most importent death metal album is obviously Scream Bloody Gore. After all, it was the first.

These guys were still a crucial part of the genre though. I actually prefer to listen to Morbid Angel than Death.

I'm Charming
December 21st 2005


I'm going to check this out and by that I don't mean line the RIAA's pockets with more money... lawl.

December 22nd 2005


[QUOTE=Shadows Fallen]The most importent death metal album is obviously Scream Bloody Gore. After all, it was the first.

These guys were still a crucial part of the genre though. I actually prefer to listen to Morbid Angel than Death.[/QUOTE]

Me too. i dont think i like death because their technical. Well actually i like Necrophagist. Yeah i'm relly digging this album right now.This Message Edited On 01.28.06

Apocalyptic Raids
February 27th 2006


My favourite MA album :D

March 17th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

This album changed the face of Death Metal. Absolutely classic.

March 25th 2006


I like death alot more than these guys. Chuck actually sounds slightly human when he sings. These guys are still good too, but i like the stuff off Blessed Are The Sick better.

March 27th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

Awesome album, one of the best things to come out of the 80's. This is where deathmetal starts to turn for the best. Definately my fav. Morbid Angel Album. The guitar solo's are pretty sweet as well.

May 14th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

I'm really digging this album right now. Very good old school death metal.

June 14th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

These solos remind me a lot of Slayer, but better. I'm really getting into this album as of late.

June 15th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Hmm, the solos aren't really the strongest point of this album, but some of them are nice.

June 15th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Amazing album, I love it.

June 15th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah Jelle, I agree. They carry the songs along nicely but they're more or less just plain noise. These guys are clearly much better at writing riffs.

July 9th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

Seems like not much of you 'get' Azagthoth's leads, I really dig his schizophrenic, Eddie Van Halen influenced style.

They would get easier to grasp and more drawn out on later releases. It's important to keep things in perspective, he was far superior to his other contemporaries and peers in Florida at the time. Bands like Nocturnus, Atheist and Cynic hadn't shown up when Azagthoth and co. started tearing up Florida back in late '85 or so. Yeah, he was probably better than Chuck, whose leads weren't anything special in that time frame.

July 9th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

How do I get approved for a review ? Because, apparently there isn't a review option otherwise. That sucks. I was looking forward to reviewing this.

Ominous Inane
July 20th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review dude, I just recently got into this album and i love it check out this link of them rehearsing immortal rites and a few others from alters http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dl9zP1kj5Dw

November 30th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I actually prefer to listen to Morbid Angel than Death.

I'm the other way around.

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