Morbid Angel

support Reverie
author AP date 16/12/14 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Concluding my year in concerts, and three hectic days of gig going, is another celebratory occasion marking the 20th Anniversary of the revered third album, "Covenant", by Tampa, FL death metal legends Morbid Angel (worth noting that the album was, in fact, released in 1993 - not '94 - but the band was unable to bring the tour to European shores last year). It must be said that death metal is hardly my forte, yet when the opportunity presents itself to experience legends in any genre, it takes very little convincing to have me off my feet, cycling toward the venue in question. Read on to find out how Morbid Angel's full-album performance this cold Tuesday evening turned out.

All photos by Marika Hyldmar


On the two previous occasions that I've had the opportunity to watch Reverie live in the past year, they've both impressed and sorely disappointed, and as such, I have no clue as to what I should expect now they're to be plying their trade on the much bigger stage at this venue. It's an honour and a privilege to be selected for such an esteemed support slot, and judging by the lengthy, eerie ambiance and distant, echoing chants that precedes their arrival, this fact has not escaped Reverie. Time and effort has been expended in crafting tonight's performance, yet much to my liking, none of the band's signature rawness has been sacrificed to appear less an underground act than they in reality are.

The quality of Reverie's sound mix immediately surpasses the disastrous circumstances to which they fell victim at KB18, and although the first song proper is a bit too conventionally arranged for my liking, the four musicians cut a convincing figure towering above us. What I've always found most intriguing about these boys is the debilitating intensity of their music, the guitarist's wild, razor sharp riffage in particular striking an instant chord with me. There's not much by way of a fixating stage presence here, with the vocalist and bassist both content to emit an air of cool nonchalance that is oddly fitting for their old school garb - reminiscent, in a way, of the style of Darkthrone way back when. The undertones of punk in the band's core of blackened thrash and death metal bears further testimony to the existence of a 'throne influence, the vocalist's frequent lapses from his signature growls into deranged scream-yelling having a very distinct old school Norwegian black metal feel to it.

Reverie blast ahead full steam, their songs rarely offering much beyond sonic evisceration - but there are, at times, moments like a seamlessly executed quietus featuring rolling snare and a subdued lead that sounds almost bluesy, that recall why I found this group so interesting the first time I saw them. There is obvious talent here, but Reverie still have some way to go when it comes to a memorable performance, and indeed the scarce diversity of their material.


Morbid Angel

As we await the dimming of the lights, I cannot help but notice the production which Morbid Angel have brought with them: imposing, yet classily subtle, two semi-translucent black banners with delicately etched white artwork flank the drumkit on either side, with an enormous backdrop behind sporting the group's instantly recognisable logo. Morbid Angel keep it simple as per the old school doctrine, yet at the same time, the stage looks thoroughly, and appropriately menacing for the type of concert about to commence. And when it does, with bass-wielding frontman David Vincent proclaiming "Good evening, Copenhagen. This is 'Covenant'!" before leading his crew - guitarists Trey Azagthoth & Destructhor and drummer Tim Yeung - through the opening track to that record, "Rapture", it's impossible for the elitist in me to remain tucked away.

Both the following "Pain Divine" and "World of Shit (The Promised Land)" sounds like the antidote to much of the contemporary representation of the death metal genre; relics from a time when the genre was regarded as blasphemous and horrifying - not like a page out of some supermarket self-help book. Loud and authoritative, Morbid Angel are the real deal, and they have the songs to show for it. Try, for instance, to find anything resembling the sublime solo work of Azagthoth & Destructhor in so-called 'modern death metal'; or better yet - try to detect in it even a distantly comparable level of intensity or brutality as in the disemboweling rendition of one of my personal favourites off the "Covenant" album, "Vengeance is Mine".

Morbid Angel need not throw themselves into the audience, break their instruments or perform other such gimmicks to make their presence felt: the three axemen upfront simply focus, with passion, on the task at hand and emit thus an air of arresting jurisdiction over the proceedings. The transitions between the songs are handled with finesse also, either with Vincent narrating the progress through the album (noting, at one point, that tonight is made even more special by the fact that "Covenant" was mixed right here in Copenhagen) or ghastly samples that ensure continuity from one song to the next. This is the sort of performance that keeps your eyes peeled, your body paralysed and suffocating from the mere ferocity with which songs like "Blood on My Hands" and "Angel of Disease" - another personal favourite of mine - are hurled toward us. As such, it is hardly a surprise the near-sold out audience seethes with enthusiasm throughout, any notion that Tuesday shows are a metal band's worst nightmare swiftly disproven.

Once "God of Emptiness" concludes the "Covenant" segment of the performance in majestic manner, Morbid Angel proceed by playing one song from each of the seven albums that complete their discography (from 1989's classic "Altars of Madness" to 2011's widely criticised "Illud Divinum Insanus"). Here, I feel, is the only stumbling block to an otherwise superb concert, as not all of this stuff measures up in terms of its quality. Songs like "Ageless, Still I Am", "Curse the Flesh", "Existo Vulgoré" (all delivered back-to-back) simply don't have the strength and lasting value of the "Covenant" material, leaving the timeless "Immortal Rites" (off "Altars of Madness" which, incidentally, is celebrating its 25th Anniversary) and "Fall From Grace" (from 1991's sophomore effort "Blessed are the Sick") as the only real highlights in the latter half of the set. Even so, however, tonight's performance is a cogent display of power by one of the most crucial death metal bands of all time: hair-raising, bone-chilling and altogether immersive.



  • 1. Rapture
  • 2. Pain Divine
  • 3. World of Shit (The Promised Land)
  • 4. Vengeance is Mine
  • 5. The Lion's Den
  • 6. Blood on My Hands
  • 7. Angel of Disease
  • 8. Sworn to the Black
  • 9. Nar Mattaru
  • 10. God of Emptiness
  • 11. Where the Slime Live
  • 12. Bil Ur-Sag
  • 13. Ageless, Still I am
  • 14. Curse the Flesh
  • 15. Existo Vulgoré
  • 16. Immortal Rites
  • 17. Fall from Grace

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