Blessed are the Sick
by Morbid Angel
1991 Earache Records
Blessed are the Sick, the second album of Florida's Morbid Angel, was, much like their first album, Altars of Madness, a genre defining record. It set the standard for death metal and extreme metal in general for many years to come, even now its influence is heard upon hundreds of bands, in many genres. Many Black Metal bands hold this record, and Morbid Angel, to be of the elite in metal, and all Death Metal fans must hear this record.
After Altars of Madness, Morbid Angel branched out, going into various directions on this release, from slower, groove oriented DM, to fast, thrash-oriented songs and riffs, and throwing some symphonic (!) filler songs to add some atmosphere and interesting dynamics. No time is wasted on here either, every second is essential, and every song is excellent. At only a bit over half an hour, it doesn't require much time to listen to, but I dare say it takes many listens to digest all the things going on in here.
The solos continue to be like events, intense bursts of noise and, from time to time a strange form of melody. Sometimes the solos sound like the screams and moans of the dead or dying, other times like ghosts or demons beyond a gate unopened, which I think, given the subject matter of most of the songs, would be the most correct idea to attach to the songs. On that note, lyrics tend to be Chtonic type imagery, and Sumerian devil-worship type themes. Case in point, from "Unholy Blasphemies" (how many DM and BM songs have had names like that?) "Rise through the gate, Iak Sakkath, From depths beyond the sky. The realm of evil gods, Painful.. They eat your mind. Or from "The Ancient Ones", Locked deep beyond the gate, Lost within the stars. Realm of the ancient ones, Malignant ones. Against the light, Power of the blackened sky. Hateful spaw, "we are the chasm depths." Personally, I think the lyrics are pretty good, each song, in explicit detail, talks about different kinds of interesting Lovecraftian ideas.
The artwork is also excellent, with very cool engravings of medieval subjects of demons and devils, with the ever present strange Morbid Angel form of the pentagram, which is a very cool perversion of these sorts of images. It is hard to describe, I suggest finding the cd and checking it out.
With this release Morbid Angel became quite hot, and unfortunately, they never quite reached the heights of their first two albums again, though they've come quite close from time to time. However their most recent releases (from the past 5 or 6 years) have been quite excellent, so hopefully the days (Morbid Angel circa-1995) of lame Pantera-style songs are buried and dead.
I highly suggest metal fans give this a listen. I'm not a big Death Metal fan myself, perferring the blackest of black metal, but, this release really speaks to me, and I can hear how it could have helped to influence a lot of the BM bands I love, and also some of the best DM bands I have heard. An essential release.
2: Fall From Grace
4: Rebel Lands
5: Doomsday Celebrations
6: Day of Suffering
7: Blessed are the Sick/Leading the Rats
8: Thy Kingdom Come
9: Unholy Blasphemies
11: Desolate Ways
12: The Ancient Ones
13: In Rememberance
Band at the time:
David Vincent: Vocals/Bass
Trey Azagthoth: Guitars/Keyboards
Richard Brunelle: Guitars
Pete Sandoval: Drums.