Altars Of Madness (CD/DVD dual disc)
Madness not only sounds good but looks great as well
I've made my stance clear in previous reviews what I generally think of reissues. Basically, they are of little value when they come with very little extra to justify throwing down your hard earned cash on something that you've already got. However, every so often, one might come along that will make you think twice. Most recently, Earache's reissue of the classic Napalm Death album, Scum, which came complete with an in depth doco outlining the band and scene at the time and the making of the album, was definitely one worth shelling out for again. Some months back, Earache pulled another from their vaults worthy of the reissue process - Morbid Angel's classic debut Altars Of Madness, which has also been given the dual disc treatment with the addition of a live performance from Morbid Angel on the now legendary Grindcrusher Tour 1989, which also featured Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower and Carcass.
Altars Of Madness is still the pinnacle of Morbid Angel's career for me, and there's no doubt that they were one of the most influential death metal bands of the Florida (U.S.A.) scene back in the day. From the opening sounds of Immortal Rites through to the blistering Evil Spells, the album doesn't falter in the slightest. Inhuman skinsmanship from Pete Sandoval, blinding lead work from both Trey Azagthoth and Richard Brunelle and Dave Vincent's menacing growl stand the test of time on classic such as Suffocation, Maze Of Torment, the bludgeoning Chapel Of Ghouls and the timeless Blasphemy. Included also are three remix tracks, which have been on the CD pressing of the album since day dot - Maze Of Torment, Chapel Of Ghouls and Blasphemy, which round it all out.
The real meat and potatoes of this meal however is the complete live set filmed at Nottingham Rock City, England on November 14 1989, titled Live Madness '89 on the B side of this dual disc. The gig, of which a mock concert ticket is also included inside the CD case, was one of many stops throughout the UK for the inaugural Grindcrusher Tour which featured label mates Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower and Carcass alongside the boys from Florida. The quality is excellent with several cameras catching the action - and there's plenty of stage divers throughout the 44 minute set - from all points of the venue both on and off the stage, and the sound mix whilst a little raw for the most part, is still full enough that everything can be heard. The setlist features the entirety of Altars almost in sequence and for many will be the only way to witness the classic original line-up in full flight.
Like I said, I'm not big on reissues. They are the “thing to do” it seems more often than not. But when a gem like this comes along, then you can't ignore it. An already timeless classic metal album just got better!
(Earache Records/Riot! Distribution)