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Morbid Angel Played The Entire "Covenant" Album To Celebrate Its 20th Year

On December 3rd, 2013, Morbid Angel came to Austin, Texas to promote the 20-year anniversary of its breakout album "Covenant." The said album marked the group's dramatic rise out of the death metal underground. MTV showcased the album's brilliance through videos of "Rapture" and "God of Emptiness"--the latter track was made more famous by the nitwit ridicule of "Beavis and Butthead." This was a wickedly satanic album, possibly their fastest and purest death metal album, but also introduced more clean vocals. The group celebrated the recording by bringing it to their fans in full.

Of all the venues I have seen host a Morbid Angel concert, Red 7's outdoor stage presented the most intimate setting. From the stage to the back of the hall, most people could see the band well when provided a plain of view between bobbing heads. Because the stage is so small and short, the overhead stage lighting only casts spots of colored light on the performers. Morbid Angel brought its own lights and smoke machine. They incorporated big-time production values into a small-time venue. The group's smoke-and-mirror presentation was the perfect media for their modern, sonic alchemy. The combination of lights and smoke created a noxious-colored border around the stage.

David Vince, Trey Azagthoth, Thor Anders Myhren and Tim Yeung played with gusto, even if the band made a few mistakes. One artist who attended the concert commented on the mistakes committed by their newest players. Apparently Myhren couldn't nail the solos and Yeung often twirled-and-dropped his drum sticks. Also, the sound came across as murky. Still, the stage presentation, bewildering speed and set list were overlooked by most attendees.

Witnessing "Covenant" in its entirety made for a monumental night. From the opening barrage of drum beats on "Rapture" to the nightmarish Satanic meditations of "God of Emptiness," we paid witness to the unfurling of one of death metal's great classics. Myhren and Agazoth took the audience down a scary astral plane with the crusty-eyed solos of "World of Shit." On "Pain Divine," the group spanked the audience with bruising, sadomasochistic beats. Fans bemoaning the lack of "Altars" material hopefully woke up to the Altars-like madness in the frantic pace, Lovecraftian incantations and wild leads of "Angel of Disease."

After the final foreboding note of "God of Emptiness," the group turned its gaze to Steve Tucker-era material, and played one track from each recording. Here was a chance to showcase some of the band's most technical playing ("Formulas Fatal to the Flesh"), as well as rarely heard material from Tucker's finale, "Heretic." Once Vincent finished singing Tucker's songs, the group leaped forward in time and played one of the better songs from its newest recording, "Illud Divinum Insanus." The evening ended with two songs from their first two recordings. There was no encore, but the group ended with one of its all-time classics, "Fall From Grace" from their second album "Blessed Are the Sick" (see the full set list listed below).

Morbid Angel only used local support on this tour. They cited the reason for this decision as a bridging of generations. They are one of the progenitors of death metal who wanted to see the rise of their progeny. Transmission Events assembled three titans of Red River Street: Vesperian Sorrow provided evil in blackened, symphonic form, while Flesh Hoarder butchered the audience with grotesque death metal slams. Vex brought together contemporary, melodic/extreme sounds made popular by European bands.

The mixture of ages at Red 7 revealed the greatness of Morbid Angel's legacy. Sure, the band is missing half of their classic lineup. Some of the older fans also decried their lack of "Altars of Madness" material. However, many fans were excited to see all of "Covenant." Others came to the show virgins to Morbid Angel's live spectacle. Fans such as Ciaran McCloskey, guitarist of openers Vex, were stoked to support one of their major influences. McCloskey noted on Facebook, "That moment when David Vincent from Morbid (fucking) Angel says that your music is an awesome breath of fresh air...."

Morbid Angel's set list was as follows:

Pain Divine
World of Shit
Vengeance is Mine
Lion's Den
Blood on My Hands
Angel of Disease
Sworn to the Black
Nar Mataru
God of Emptiness
Where the Slime Live
Bil Ur Sag
Ageless Still I Am
Curse the Flesh
Existo Vulgore (Illud Divinum Insanus)
Immortal Rites
Fall From Grace

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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