by Doug Moore
Dave Vincent (more by Jonathan McPhail)
When Morbid Angel announced that they would be celebrating the 20th anniversary of their classic third album Covenant by playing the album in full on tour, the reaction was a little more muted than the band had probably hoped. Despite their unimpeachable legacy, Morbid Angel lost a lot of goodwill with their fanbase when, after an eight-year delay, they released 2011's disastrous Ilud Divinum Insanus. The departure of longtime drummer Pete Sandoval did not help matters. Many people (justifiably) turned their backs on M-A in the two years since.
But despite the dampened expectations, Morbid Angel's performance on the NYC stop of this tour on 11/12 was thoroughly awesome. As goofy as this band looks onstage sometimes (notice Dave Vincent's outfit above), they still bring their A-game to their classic material; the performances are less manic than on the albums, but they're tighter by the same token. Trey Azagthoth remains the best lead player in all of death metal; watching him rip those unearthly sounds out of his guitar is absurd and awesome.
We also spoke to Vincent, the band's lately-divisive frontman, for an interview over at Invisible Oranges. Since Morbid Angel kept their set mostly to their classic material, we followed suit with our conversation. Vincent notably confirmed that Pete Sandoval is no longer an official member of the band, due to Sandoval having "found Jesus." Read an excerpt below...
Covenant came out in 1993, which was in many ways the peak of death metal as a commercial genre -- Carcass's Heartwork, Entombed's Wolverine Blues, Death's Individual Thought Patterns, and Dismember's Indecent & Obscene all came out that year, among others. Morbid Angel were the first death metal band to sign to a major. What was it like to be at the center of all of that?
I looked at it as an opportunity more than anything else. It gave us some muscle to get us into the big boys' swimming pool, as it were. We had to work a lot harder, obviously, but we had some opportunities available to us that weren't before. We got on some really good tours. We had some really good videos. It takes a lot of money to do some of these things, and Warner has very deep pockets. They allowed us to realize some of our dreams -- we got to do some things that I enjoyed a lot, and that the fans tell me they enjoyed as well.
Do you feel like you capitalized on that opportunity as much as you could've?
Gosh, well, I guess you could always do more. But I think that we pushed what we do pretty darn far for what it is. It's not commercial music. We have some stuff that's catchy in its own way, but not to the mainstream. Although, it's interesting. Listening back now, I hear a lot of things that arguably we helped to pioneer. There are elements of that which I hear in all manner of kinds of music, including pop. Which is cool.
Covenant is really catchy for a death metal record.
That's just what we do, y'know? But all these other bands that you mentioned -- we're all very different. Today, what I hear is a lot of things that sound the same. I don't hear the sense of individuality that I felt with us or some of the other Florida bands -- Obituary, Death, those bands. When people talk about a "Florida sound," I don't know what that would be. We all sound very different. The tones, the song structures, everything about us was very different.
Nowadays, I don't think there's so much emphasis put on identity as there is on groupthink: "What's this style, or that style?" Style doesn't mean a lot to me. Quality means everything to me. If there's anything that I wish that I heard more of these days, it's the same differentiation that I heard back when we were cutting our teeth.
The rest of the interview is available over at IO. Fingers crossed that Morbid Angel's next album sounds more like Covenant.