Altars of Madness | Trey Azagthoth | Morbid Angel

Image Courtesy of Combat/Earache or the band's graphic artist(s)

John Coyne, Staff Writer

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In the third Omega article I ever wrote all the way back on November 8th of last year (2018) (so a little over a year ago) I talked about the 5 best old school death metal albums and gave the album Altars of Madness by Morbid Angel the number 1 spot. However, my reasoning was based on the fact that many people considered it to be a great album, so it deserved the number 1 spot, but I was not as big of a fan as other people were. However, since then, I’ve listened to this album many more times, and recently, it just clicked. I believe this is due to the riffs that lead guitarist Trey Azagthoth writes. In my opinion, which is concurrent with many other death metal aficionados’ opinions, Trey Azagthoth writes the most unique riffs in all of death metal. It took me longer than most people for the riffs to click, but when they did, my gosh is it a great feeling. 

There are great riffs littered all throughout this album. The first track on the album, Immortal Rites, has a break in the action that is absolutely beautiful. Melodic, atmospheric, yet still unbelievably death metal. The third track, Visions from the Dark Side, has a short, fast tremolo-picked section that pretty much goes by the book, but it is paired with a harmony tremolo-picked section that is completely unique and adds to the greatness of the riff. The fourth track, Maze of Torment, has an amazing intro riff, followed by this eerie evil laughter that can give anyone goosebumps, which is then followed by death metal brutality of pounding blast beats and demonic growls. The sixth track, Chapel of Ghouls, is when the album clicked for me. The first tremolo riff in the song, although rather simple, is malicious. Something about the sequence of those four notes just stuck in my head for the days to come. However, this riff is also coupled by a break in the action, that blows the Immortal Rites’ break out of the water. Then instead of traditionally going back to your typical death metal face-melting riffage, they decide to put another breakdown after the previous breakdown, and essentially, you are left mind blown. Only Trey Azagthoth would be able to pull off a feat as successfully as that track does it.

Morbid Angel is widely considered one of the greatest death metal bands of all time. After all, their third album, Covenant, spawned in 1993, is the best-selling death metal album of all time. When that’s the case, there’s usually a reason for it. After years of listening to death metal, I’m glad the band was finally able to click with me, and I believe Morbid Angel does, in fact, live up to all the hype it gets in the death metal community. Stay metal! \m/

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