Morbid Angel is a Death Metal band hailing from Florida, and is one of the many bands that helped lay the foundations of the genre, alongside Death, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, and such. Despite forming in 1983, MA was plagued with lineup changes left and right, with guitarist Trey Azagthoth being the only original member left. That being said, he is not the only member many fans know, as both Pete Sandoval and David Vincent are both long-serving members.
In 1989, they finally debuted with Altars of Madness, released by Earache Records, which is hailed as a masterpiece among the death metal community and one of the genre's classics.
Their sound changed rather dramatically on their second album, Blessed Are the Sick (1991), the latter half of that album containing re-recorded demo songs.
Another album which gained 'classic' status was their third one, the bestselling Covenant (1993), on which their sound was once again different.
Domination was released in 1995 after the band signed on to Giant Records and thus they were the first Death Metal band ever to sign a deal with a major label. The album sparked some controversy among the fans regarding both its lyrical content and more sleek-sounding musical direction.
Frontman David Vincent left the band in 1996, after which the band recruited Steve Tucker to handle the bass and vocal duties. This incarnation recorded the Formulas Fatal to the Flesh album, released in 1998. Again, the sound differed markedly from its predecessor, taking the band in a more ruthless and brutal direction.
Long-serving touring member Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal) was involved in penning the next album Gateways to Annihilation (2000), resulting in a somewhat more polished sound.
Morbid Angel seemed to have the tendency to alternate between brutal and more polished albums, their seventh studio album Heretic (2003) again being somewhat rawer. It was at that time the band started to get criticized because of what was perceived as being directionless. The album sold not very well compared to earlier ones as well.
The band did a lot of touring and although no new studio album was forthcoming, 2004 saw the return of David Vincent. In 2008 a new touring member was found in Thor Anders 'Destructhor' Myhren.
Illud Divinum Insanus, studio album number eight, was finally released in 2011. Apart from three solid trademark death metal tracks, the band went into a more industrial and electronic direction. The drummer was Tim Yeung, due to Pete Sandoval recovering from spinal surgery. To say the album was received poorly is an understatement although it most certainly has its adherents.
In 2013, David Vincent announced that Pete Sandoval was no longer a part of Morbid Angel, due to the latter's conversion to Christianity. As of 2015, Vincent himself has departed again, and Steve Tucker has officially rejoined the band. Yeung and Myhren have also left, citing financial issues (Yeung) and a desire to focus on Myrkskog mixed with the band's desire to work with someone closer in location (Myhren). After some ambiguity regarding whether Vincent was truly out, an official announcement stating that that was indeed the case was made on June 19, 2015. Around the beginning of 2017, the full new lineup was announced: Scott Fuller has taken the drum spot, while Dan Vadim Von (VadimVon) has taken the second guitar spot. The band released Kingdoms Disdained at the end of the year, which was met with much better reception.
- Trey Azagthoth guitars, guitar synthesizer, keyboards (1983present)
- Steve Tucker vocals, bass (19972001, 20032004, 2015-present)
- Scott Fuller - drums (2016-present)
- Dan Vadim Von - guitars (2016-present)
Notable Past Members:
- Mike Browning - drums, vocals (1983-1986)
- Richard Brunelle - guitars (1985-1992) (died 2019)
- David Vincent vocals, bass (19861996, 20042015)
- Pete Sandoval drums, percussion (19882013)
- Erik Rutan guitars, keyboards (19931996, 19992002, 2006)
- Jared Anderson vocals, bass (20012002) (deceased)
- Thor Anders Myhren - guitars (2008-2015)
- Tim Yeung drums (20102015)
- Altars of Madness (1989)
- Blessed Are the Sick (1991)
- Covenant (1993)
- Domination (1995)
- Entangled in Chaos (live) (1996)
- Formulas Fatal to the Flesh (1998)
- Gateways to Annihilation (2000)
- Heretic (2003)
- Illud Divinum Insanus (2011)
- Juvenilia (live) (2015)
- Kingdoms Disdained (2017)
Altars of Tropes:
- Achievements in Ignorance: The band once played a prank on Pete by playing an extremely fast drum machine track and telling him that it was a legit recording; Pete, thinking that they were telling the truth, practiced and practiced until he was actually able to play faster than the recording, finally forcing his band mates to inform him that it was not, in fact, an actual drummer on said recording.
- All Drummers Are Animals: Pete certainly had the sound.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Trey is quite an odd dude, but his guitar skills and one-of-a-kind style are still amazing even today, where the skill bar has been set much higher. He also utilizes numerology regarding his solos, with notes sometimes missing at odd places. This is intentional.
- Darker and Edgier: While none of their work is happy-go-lucky by any stretch of the imagination, their albums with Steve Tucker (especially on Gateways to Annihilation) are noticeably darker and heavier than their earlier work with David Vincent.
- Death Metal: One of the pioneers of the genre.
- Doom Metal: Have flirted with this genre from time to time, particularly on Gateways to Annihilation.
- Epic Rocking:
- Domination had "Caesar's Palace", clocking at 6:21.
- Formulas Fatal to The Flesh had "Covenant of Death" (6:08) and "Invocation of the Continual One" (9:47).
- Gateways to Annihilation gives us "Summoning Redemption" (7:17).
- Heretic has "God of Our Own Divinity" (6:21).
- Illud had the most songs that qualified, giving us "Too Extreme," "Destructos vs The Earth/Attack," and "Radikult." Ironically, those were the more hated tracks off that album.
- Filk Song: "Piles of Little Arms".
- Four-Temperament Ensemble:
- Trey: sanguine
- Steve: choleric
- Scott: melancholic
- Dan: phlegmatic
- Gratuitous Latin: Illud Divinum Insanus is supposed to be this, and is supposed to mean something resembling "that insane being", however even basic students of Latin will be able to point out that the grammar is incorrect and that it more closely resembles something that ran through Google Translate.
- HeelFaith Turn: It is unclear whether Pete quit or was fired, but David Vincent made it very clear that his conversion to Christianity was his reason for leaving.
- I Am the Band: Trey Azagthoth is the only remaining founding member and the only member to appear on every album.
- Iconic Item: Trey's red B.C. Rich Ironbird with "INSTAGIB" emblazoned on the side.
- Improv: Trey's approach to most of his leads. He usually plays them similar to how they were recorded live, but in the studio, he cuts loose. "Temple of Ostx" is his self-coined title for the headspace that he enters when he's improvising and playing purely by feel.
- Industrial Metal: Illud Divinum Insanus has a noticeable industrial influence.
- Lead Bassist: David Vincent and Steve Tucker were both type B. David is also a type C.
- Lead Drummer:
- Pete Sandoval is probably the single most influential drummer in the entire genre of death metal. Ask a death metal drummer about their primary influences; Mike Smith, George Kollias, John Longstreth, Derek Roddy, Tim Yeung, Kevin Talley, and Flo Mounier all show up on a regular basis, but 99 times out of 100, they will always say Pete.
- Former drummer Mike Browning also sang lead vocals during his time with Morbid Angel, as heard on Abominations of Desolation. He has continued to both sing and drum in his subsequent bands.
- Metal Scream: David utilized a type 3 on Altars of Madness, mixed type 3 and type 2 on Blessed Are the Sick, and stuck solely to type 2 on subsequent albums; post-reunion, he is closer to a type 1 with a side of type 2. Tucker, meanwhile, has always been a type 2 with shades of type 1.
- New Sound Album: Everything:
- Altars of Madness was far less thrashy than their demos and a lot heavier and more vicious, part of which can be owed to the then-newfound presence of Pete Sandoval.
- Blessed slowed things down and focused on doomier, more "evil" material, though it did also bring back a fair amount of the thrashier material on their demos.
- Covenant mixed AoM and Blessed and introduced seven-string guitars, creating an even more evil atmosphere.
- Domination was hookier, more melodic, and generally less experimental than Covenant, though it did sneak in some industrial and ambient elements.
- Formulas bumped up the speed and heaviness while expanding on the industrial and ambient elements.
- Gateways was essentially Blessed taken and expanded upon and was probably their doomiest and most "evil" album.
- Heretic was an "everything but the kitchen sink" album and tried to combine elements of their entire career.
- Illud is, well... Yeah, it was different. Most of the death metal was eschewed in favor of late-'90s industrial metal a la Rob Zombie or Marilyn Manson (Too Extreme!, Destructos, Radikult), groove metal a la Lamb of God (10 More Dead, I Am Morbid), or bizarre industrial grind a la The Berzerker (Profundis - Mea Culpa). The fandom's opinion is, well... Not at all positive.
- Kingdoms returns to pure death metal. It takes elements from Formulas, Gateways and Heretic to create a heavy mid-paced sound.
- Pintsized Powerhouse: Tim Yeung and Scott Fuller.
- Revolving Door Band: For most of the 1990s.
- Rock Me, Asmodeus!: The primary lyrical theme on their early works.
- Shout-Out: H. P. Lovecraft gets referenced from time to time, more so on their newer stuff. In fact, Trey's stage name is a Lovecraft Shout-Out by way of the Simon Necronomicon.
- Signature Style: Wandering, often atmospheric tremolo riffs, lurching mid-paced grooves, fairly simple but extremely fast blast beat-laden drumming with Pete's instantly recognizable feel and approach to fills, and chaotic solos that make heavy use of effects (primarily wah, flanger, harmonizer, phaser, and delay pedals), tapping, and the whammy bar with a very unique tone that is instantly recognizable to anyone who is even slightly knowledgeable about death metal.
- Start My Own: Erik Rutan left to focus on Hate Eternal, while Steve Tucker started Warfather in 2012. Dave and Tim formed I Am Morbid in 2016, playing songs from the Morbid Angel albums that Dave sang on. Dave has also recorded a few Country Music songs.
- Theme Naming: Every album's title starts with a letter of the Latin alphabet in chronological order.
- An interesting case, as it was done unintentionally with Altars of Madness and Blessed, but done intentionally from then on.
- Those Wacky Nazis: David flirted with this for a brief period of time.
- Trope Codifier: Along with Deicide, they were this for death metal. While their early output was just as much thrash as it was death, Altars of Madness (along with Deicide's self-titled) established a lot of the melodic ideas and riffing conventions that were unique to death metal; prior to those two albums, most death metal was really just very heavy thrash (even the halfway albums, such as Leprosy, Slowly We Rot, and Severed Survival, were still just as close to thrash as they were death, and while the latter two may seem like they established unique riffing and songwriting tropes, they were really just repurposing Celtic Frost riffs in a more technically proficient manner).
- True Companions: Trey and Rutan. The latter hasn't really had the time for Morbid Angel between Hate Eternal and his own production work, but he and Trey are still best buds.
- Uncommon Time
- Vocal Evolution: David Vincent started out with a phlegmy, mid-ranged rasp on Altars of Madness. On Blessed Are the Sick, he switched between the higher-pitched style of AoM and the deep guttural roar that was quickly becoming the defining style of death metal. With Covenant, Vincent did away with the rasp altogether and made the growl his chosen vocal style. He attributed his change in vocal styles to his decision to give up smoking after AoM. When he returned to the band for Illud Divinum Insanus, age had caught up to him and his growls were significantly less deep and guttural than on his pre-departure albums.
- Voice of the Legion: Just after the solo on "Chapel of Ghouls."