MORBID ANGEL — Blessed Are the Sick (review)

MORBID ANGEL — Blessed Are the Sick album cover Album · 1991 · Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
"Blessed Are the Sick" is the 2nd full-length studio album by American death metal act Morbid Angel. The album was released in July 1991 by Earache Records. "Blessed Are the Sick" was recorded by the same four-piece lineup that recorded "Altars of Madness (1989)".

While most of the tracks on the album were written specifially for this release, there are three older tracks featured on the album. "Unholy Blasphemies", "Abominations" and "The Ancient Ones" were all featured on the 1986 shelved album "Abominations of Desolation" ( released in September 1991 by Earache Records). "The Ancient Ones" goes under the title "Azagthoth" on that release.

Compared to the more raw production and savage delivery on the debut, the music on "Blessed Are the Sick" is generally a lot more sophisticated and varied. The more controlled and detailed production really enhances that impression too. In addition to the fast blasting death metal parts, the tracks also feature slower slightly dissonant and odd metered parts, screaming solos and one of the most powerful ( and pretty varied too) vocal deliveries yet on a death metal album. Those vocals are really the icing on the cake. David Vincent varies his delivery between deep growls and higher pitched aggressive vocals. Besides his great sounding voice and timing in his delivery the fact that you can actually understand what he is singing is one of the greatest assets to his vocal style. His vocals are always decipherable which can´t be said about the vast majority of death metal vocalists. The music is as mentioned rather sophisticated but never on the account of power or memorability. "Blessed Are the Sick" is the kind of death metal album where you´ll be able to remember each track after only a few listens. That´s not to say the album is an easy listening experience though. This is still rather brutal death metal without much you could call conventional melody. The variation in pace, hooks of various kinds ( a rythm, a vocal line, a guitar riff...etc.) and the high level of musicianship are all contributing factors to a great memorable listening experience.

In between the more "regular" death metal tracks on the album, Morbid Angel have added three shorter interludes ( an atmospheric piece, an acoustic guitar piece and a piano piece), a short feedback/ noisy intro and the flute outro to the track "Blessed Are the Sick / Leading the Rats". All the interludes work as little breathers on the album and also atmosphere enhancers and they are quite succesful at that. All tracks have the right place on the album and it´s obvious the band have given the placement of the tracks a lot of thought. The tracks on Side 1 on the vinyl version ( tracks 1 to 7) are particularly well placed IMO while the placement of the tracks on Side 2 also works well, but with the minor complaint that all three "older" tracks are placed in succession ( with one of the interludes in between). All three "older" tracks are greatly enjoyable but the tracks on Side 1 are just that notch better to these ears. Tracks like "Fall From Grace", "Brainstorm", "Thy Kingdom Come" and "Day of Suffering" are simply top notch fast-paced death metal tracks but the more downtempo ( relatively) "Rebel Lands" and "Blessed Are the Sick / Leading the Rats" are also crushing and innovative.

Listening to an album like "Blessed Are the Sick", it´s no wonder why Morbid Angel are widely considered one of the pioneers and innovators of the death metal genre. The music on this album is simply of such high quality, that not many other albums in the genre can compete. Not only does the album fully deserve the "classic" stamp because it´s a highly influential album, "Blessed Are the Sick" also deserves the "masterpiece" stamp because of the outstanding nature and timeless quality of the material. A 5 star rating is very well deserved.
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