Gateways of Annihilation
Review by Mike Korn
I wasn't expecting much from this release, as the venerable Morbid Angel, amongst the oldest of active death metal acts, has not been especially impressive in recent years. The last record "Formulas Fatal to the Flesh", the first to feature vocalist/bassist Steve Tucker, was resolutely average and did little to advance their cause. In the long gap since that record, newer and hungrier death metal bands like Cryptopsy, Krisiun and Nile have stolen some of Morbid Angel's thunder.
"Gateways to Annihilation" is a pleasant surprise. The material is a lot stronger than the "Formulas..." stuff and gives evidence of a band confident in its abilities and not willing to bow to every trend. Wisely deciding not to compete with younger bands as far as speed goes, Morbid Angel instead seems intent on writing tracks full of crushing power and sinister, majestic atmosphere. Most tracks stalk along in a mid-paced or slower mode but with Pete Sandoval's relentless double bass drumming providing an aggressive backbeat. This guy's feet move faster than a hummingbird's wings. Trey Azagthoth shows himself to be one of the more unique and visionary guitarists in death metal. His solos are unlike those of any other artist and his work on "Gateways..." shows some new facets to his work. Steve Tucker, somewhat ill at ease on the last record, settles in to provide some brutal growling vocals that still manage to be clear and understandable. Even better, second guitarist Erik Rutan has returned, adding some more depth to the Morbid Angel sound.
"Gateways to Annihilation" will probably not rip out the spine of the most rabid death metal fanatic but it provides some undoubtedly heavy and sophisticated brutality. It's a good effort from one of the fathers of the genre. I don't know if Morbid Angel will reclaim the mantle they once had of the best death metal band on the planet but "Gateways to Annihilation" won't hurt their cause any. This is one of their most powerful records.