September 26th, 2012 – BB King’s Blues Club and Grill, New York, NY
When death metal legends Morbid Angel released their first album in 8 years, Illud Divinum Insanus, the reaction of the metal community went something like this:
Now, I still haven’t listened to all of Illud Divinum Insanus (and many would tell me that’s a good thing). But even as far as metal letdowns go, this was truly one for the books. I remember reading dozens of Amazon reviews rating Illud Divinum Insanus an overallaverage of 2 stars out of 5. That’s terrible. Bear in mind that most Amazon music reviews more or less average out to 3.5-4 stars even for “bad” releases. Reception was so poor that fans were even attacking Morbid Angel directly, seeming to forget the band’s sterling reputation as death metal giants based on the strength of their first 4 albums alone. I guess they spoiled us.
Someone online even commented that “This travesty, this excuse of a record, is an atrocity. It is a sin for ‘I’ to be released under this once-great, now-soiled name of Morbid Angel.” A more light-hearted review said, “They should just call their next album, ‘Just kidding, here’s the real record we meant to make!'”
That was the backdrop for Morbid Angel’s concert at BB King’s in New York City. And although their latest was received almost universally negatively, it wasn’t enough to stop between seven and eight hundred metalheads from packing the club on 42nd Street to see Morbid Angel. Faced with the task of having to restore their reputation and remind fans of why they were legends in the first place, Morbid Angel’s setlist consisted almost entirely of prime cuts from their first 4 albums (A-D), each one a death metal classic in its own way. It was exactly what the fans wanted and needed to hear. No more questions about the latest studio effort.
Morbid Angel absolutely tore the roof off BB King’s.
Impressive opening support was provided by fellow death metalers Grave, who draped their amps with the Swedish flag and mounted skulls on them. Black metalers Dark Funeral also did their part to prepare BB King’s with an appropriately evil atmosphere. They both did a fine job and deserve the respect and admiration of Morbid Angel fans–props to the organizers for putting together this unholy touring combo.
1. Immortal Rites
2. Fall from Grace
4. Maze of Torment
5. Sworn to the Black
6. Existo Vulgoré
8. Angel of Disease
9. Lord of All Fevers and Plague
10. Chapel of Ghouls
11. Where the Slime Live
12. Blood on My Hands
13. Bil Ur-Sag
14. God of Emptiness
15. World of Shit (The Promised Land)
I stood on stage left, right behind and slightly above the main pit for a fantastic view. From the moment the reunited Morbid Angel roared onstage in a sea of red light with their traditional show starter, “Immortal Rites,” you knew it would be a killer gig. Frontman David Vincent reminded me of Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine, keeping his audience chit-chat to a minimum and letting the music do the talking. Every couple of songs, he crossed his tattooed arms and eyed the audience up and down, lighthouse style, with an approving smile/sneer.
The main pit in front of Vincent was a madhouse, fists and devil horns pumping with unrestrained fury. I’ll never forget the tortured claws on fans’ hands extending towards Dave as he yelled out the famous line from “Chapel of Ghouls”: “FOOLS!!! YOUR GOD IS DEAD!!!”
Trey Azagthoth waved his black and red guitar every which way as he forced squealies and shreds from it. Tim Yeung was a drumming machine of intense speed. The show simply flew by, which is a testament to the sheer quality of the performance. It couldn’t have been a better setlist had the Morbid Angel fans chosen it themselves. Simply one of the wildest and best shows, extreme metal or otherwise, I’ve ever seen. The phrase on the backs of many Morbid Angel shirts reads, “EXTREME MUSIC FOR EXTREME PEOPLE,” and it made perfect sense after this show.
Inspired by the tour’s success, Morbid Angel would tour again the following year, playing Covenant in its entirety. It remains the fans’ hope that the band is re-energized from revisiting so much material from its heyday, and who knows…maybe J, whenever it comes out, will stand with the bands best. They are just too devilishly good to have the Illud clunker be their final statement. Whatever your opinions on “I,” go see Morbid Angel live anyway. It hasn’t dimmed the death metal legends’ live prowess one bit.
Written by Matt P