Blessed be thy fans with this sweet re-issue
I’m going to be showing my age a little here but when Blessed Are the Sick was released in 1991, I remember being taken aback by it when I got home from the record store with it and cranked it in my stereo. It didn’t seem to be quite the ferocious juggernaut that Altars of Madness was. However, it only took a few more spins to realise that the band’s sheer brutality was still there but it was laced with slower, crushing passages that brought more groove to Morbid’s already impressive arsenal of musical weaponry.
More groove and slower passages might have been not so new to the Morbid Angel sound, but for their second album, they were certainly more pronounced. What’s interesting though is that when they slowed it down, they really slow things down – drums, riffs, the whole shebang. Conversely, when it was time to blast, everything tore you a new one. Guitarists Trey Azagthoth and Richard Brunelle laid down blistering riffs cranked up to the speed of light whilst being backed by Pete Sandoval’s inhuman work behind the drum kit. With bassist/vocalist David Vincent’s vocals having an even more sinister growl to them than ever before, the scene was set for this to become a certified classic and one of the most important death metal albums of all time. Almost twenty years on since its release and that certainly holds true. In fact, that being the case, I don’t even need to say anything else about the album other than you’re not a death metal fan if you’ve not heard it.
With Earache well and truly in re-issue mode in recent times, and lets face it, they do have a legendary back catalogue – they have given the second Morbid Angel album the reissue treatment. In a new deluxe fold out digipack layout (of course featuring the original artwork, “Les Tresors de Satan" by Jean Delville), the flip side of this dual disk features an all new 1 hour documentary as well as the band’s video clip to Blessed Are the Sick/Leading the Rats. The doco features interviews with David Vincent, Tom Morris (of Morrisound Studios who engineered and mixed the album), former roadies and managers, and members of Nile and Divine Heresy and covers everything from writing and recording the album, to touring on it and some of the tour stories from around the world, the story behind the artwork and the band’s position on organised religion at the time. It’s a well rounded doco and the perfect compliment to an outstanding album.
I don’t know if there’s much else I can say. One of the most important death metal albums of all time has been given the royal treatment. It’s a bit of a shame I guess that there’s no extras in the way of demos or live stuff from this album and era - as were included on the Carcass reissues - but perhaps I’m being picky. Fans of the band and this album will love this one too. An essential album just became even more essential.
(Earache Records/Riot! Entertainment)