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3.55 | 8 ratings | 2 reviews
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Demo · 1991

Filed under Death Metal


1. The Invocation / Chapel of Ghouls (7:12)
2. Unholy Blasphemies (4:00)
3. Angel of Disease (5:36)
4. Azagthoth (5:50)
5. The Gate / Lord of All Fevers (5:55)
6. Hell Spawn (2:32)
7. Abominations (4:20)
8. Demon Seed (2:12)
9. Welcome to Hell (4:57)

Total Time: 42:34


- Mike Browning / vocals, drums
- Trey Azagthoth / guitar
- John Ortega / bass guitar
- Richard Brunelle / guitar

About this release

Earache Records, September 2nd, 1991

Thanks to Stooge, The Angry Scotsman, UMUR for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Vim Fuego
Bootleggers have been a double-edged sword in the music industry as long as there has been recorded music.

You can look at them as leeches, profiteering off someone else’s work without the true creator getting the credit and payment due for creating the original work. They often release sub-standard products, ripping off consumers and tarnishing artists reputations with low quality product. Besides all that, bootlegging is illegal.

On the other hand, consumers often buy bootleg products, knowing full well they are getting an inferior product, simply because they love the artist in question. And obviously the bootlegger is supplying something the artist isn’t. Some artists, like Metallica, embraced the bootleggers. They acknowledged bootlegging would happen, and used it as a promotional tool during their early career. Wanna get your music out there? Get ‘em to share it, even if it’s ill-gotten. The ultimate celebration of this was Metallica’s glorious lo-fi tribute to their late bassist in “Cliff ‘em All”. (Let’s not mention the Napster debacle, OK?)

Bootleggers often force the artists’ hand to release, re-release or repackage old material too. Great for consumers, shit for artists. An example of this? Unleashed releasing a live album in 1993 because there were poor quality live bootlegs circulating. The band were brilliant live, but it was an unwelcome expense for the band so early in their career. Another example? The release of Repulsion’s “Horrified”, years after the band had split up.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Morbid Angel didn’t release “Abominations of Desolation” in 1986 because they didn’t like it. The production was thin and sub-par (produced by David Vincent, before he joined the band), and then Trey Azagthoth and Mike Browning had a falling out. Browning went off and formed the awesome sci-fi death metal band Nocturnus, while Azagthoth regrouped and rebuilt Morbid Angel. Most of the songs here were re-recorded or reworded for later Morbid Angel releases, and “Abominations of Desolation” was shelved for good.

Except it wasn’t. It kept popping up in bootlegs across the world. Hell, the bootleggers were bootlegging the bootleggers, with the audio quality taking a dive with each iteration And Morbid Angel’s label Earache were getting more than a little pissed off with it. In an attempt to put a stop to the highly collectable (imagine it on red, yellow, splatter, translucent cream, or picture disc!) but dogshit sound quality product, Earache released the album in 1991 with a warning sticker that it was NOT an new Morbid Angel album, but WAS taken from the original master tape.

So what do you actually get? Well. There’s a silly invocation called “The Invocation” as an intro to “Chapel of Ghouls”. Once the music starts, it’s obvious straight away the music is slower. Browning, while a great drummer in his own right, is no Pete Sandoval. There’s a slightly tinny edge to things like cymbals and lead guitars, and Browning’s vocals aren’t near as guttural as Vincent’s from “Altars of Madness”. On the positive side though, there’s something about Azagthoth’s and Richard Brunelle’s soloing which sounds slightly more unhinged than the re-recorded versions. There’s a rough, spontaneous quality which had mostly been smoothed out in the intervening three years.

And that’s basically the story of the album. Anyone familiar with Morbid Angel will know these songs. Everything here got reworked with new lyrics, new titles, or new arrangements on “Altars of Madness”, Blessed Are The Sick, “Covenant”, and “Formulas Fatal To The Flesh”, except the track “Demon Seed”. And is it worth picking up “Abominations of Desolation” just for that 2 minute 12 second track? Honestly, no it isn’t. However, this album IS worth picking up if you’re interested in hearing how songs and ideas develop from their rough or initial forms through to the finished product. None of these versions are superior to their later counterparts, although “Welcome to Hell” which became “Evil Spells” is at least the equal of the later version.

There doesn’t seem to be any indication that this was re-mastered or had any other such studio trickery applied in 1991, so from the sounds of it, and the limitations of the day, David Vincent did a pretty reasonable job, despite Azagthoth’s dissatisfaction. Would it have made a big difference if this had released in 1986 instead of 1991? After all, it would have predated Death’s “Scream Bloody Gore”, and would have been the first fully fledged death metal album. Probably not. No one was listening then. Or, not enough people were. Bands like Necrophagia and Repulsion were making similar sorts of noise at the time, but had tiny underground followings.

The extra few years saw the appetite for death metal grow, along with Morbid Angel’s fearsome reputation in the metal underground. It also helped that the band had secured a record deal, and were able to record “Altars of Madness” with a professional mix and at least a little bit of a recording budget. So really, this is for completionists only. But if you’re a Morbid Angel fan, you’re going to be a completionist anyway.

Members reviews

slow man
Abominations of desolation was the first studio recording of Morbid angel. It was recorded in 1986 and must be considered as a demo. The band was dissatisfied with the results and the release was only years later,in 1991, by decision of record label Earache.(lucky they did because it's an interesting record.) The lineup was Trey Azagtoth on guitars and Mike Browning on drums and vocals, completed with bassist Sterling von Scarborough and guitarist Richard Brunelle. David Vincent did the production and later he joined the band with drummer Pete Sandoval. The music of the album sounds very rough,dark and evil. It already shows the talents of a skilled death metal band. Many songs are re-recorded for Altars of madness & Blessed are the sick,and some for Covenant and Formulas fatal to the flesh. I really enjoy these old demo songs,despite their own dissatisfaction. I like the old metal of those years. Abominations contains their all-time classic Chapel of ghouls and great songs as Unholy blasphemies,Abominations and the very fast Hell spawn. The quality of the sound is tolerable,rather good for demo quality. It was a wise decision to release these songs from the great death metal band.

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