Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Morbid Angel 'Abominations of Desolation' 1991 release explained.
Question: Why was Morbid Angel album Abominations of Desolation the third to be released, and runs against the rest of the albums which are in alphabet order? I hear it was the early demos without David Vincent? From: Azagthoth666@gmail.com
Answer: Yes, this album confuses many fans of Morbid Angel, because it came out in 1991, and to the casual fan browsing their discography, it appears to be the third album Earache released by the band, but it was infact their debut album, recorded in 1986 by a different line-up, which was shelved.
It came out 5 years later to satisfy fan curiosity to hear what was probably the most sought-after tape trader demo of that late 80's/early 90's era. Some people call it "the most important Death Metal album ever recorded" which it possibly was, along with fellow Floridians DEATH, of course. The album has a great website dedicated to it with loads of useful info.
Earache signed the band in 1989 mainly because I had always loved the intensity of the demo which had been circulating for years. The demo cover summed up the band's single-minded intent to shock : 3 devils attacking, raping and devouring a woman on a bed. It's still shocking even now, but back then this was way too extreme for any of the mainstream 80's metal labels to comprehend, so the band remained unsigned in Tampa.
Earache in the early days was all about extreme music played by extreme personalities so took the plunge and signed the band. Luckily the first 2 albums - 1989's Altars of Madness and 1991's Blessed Are The Sick became big sellers and Morbid Angel had within the space of 2 years become a formidable leading force in the worldwide Death Metal scene.
The overnight success of the band meant that the bootleggers which plagued the scene back then would quickly move in to steal a slice of the action. The notorious HEADACHE records bootleg operation in Germany would pump out coloured vinyl versions or pic discs of the demos and live shows of nearly every Earache band, they literally shadowed our every move for 2 years, taking the piss all the way.Nowadays collectors tell me that they assume Headache must have been Earache's semi-official 'unauthorised division' so closely did their releases match ours.Truthfully, it was nothing to do with us, and if I ever find out who was behind those boots they are due one almighty "Headache" themselves, courtesy of my fist.
In the office we used to treat it as a sign that a particular band had "made it" when the obligatory Headache boot arrived on sale. It was no laughing matter though, because while the label and bands were expending tons of energy and huge finances creating the scene, these faceless leeches were pumping out vinyl with no permission, no creative intent or artistic merit, just as a pure cash in. The bootleggers understood the power of collectible vinyl way before anyone else did, and undoubtedly made a serious killing off the back of our bands' talents and hard work.
Morbid Angel's un-released demo first album had attained mythical status by 1991, and was the no doubt the number 1 in the bootlegger charts, a situation which irked me and the band, so we hatched a plan to officially release the 'Abominations of Desolation' album so they could beat the bootleggers and finally make some dough themselves instead.
The 1986 album recording had been financed by David Vincent as he was operating his newly formed label Gorque Productions, and he was intending to release Morbid Angels debut as their label boss. The singer at the time of recording was Mike Browning (later Nocturnus mainman) and bassist was Sterling Von Scarborough. Instead of releasing the album David actually replaced them both! David joined the band on bass and vocals,thus the tapes were instantly deemed redundant as the line up was immediately stronger with his addition. Many of the demos songs appeared on the debut and second Morbid Angel albums but some were left unrecorded, so hightening their collectability.
By 1991 I had persuaded them that the time was right to release them, so the band eventually succumbed to my pressure to dust off the tapes, which were in perfect shape and were still sitting in David Vincent's bedroom cupboards. The intention was the album be released with little fanfare so as to distance it's release from the then-current line up - because only guitarist Trey had been a player on it.
The album was deliberately released lo-key, in generic, plain artwork with minimal info. Artwork was created by local Nottingham artist Mark Craven (ex-games workshop) and the shocking original artwork was hidden inside so shops would not complain and refuse to stock it. Everything about it was designed to not confuse their legions of new fans into thinking it was a newly recorded Morbid Angel product. It even came with a warning statement on the sleeve.
The bands career trajectory was firmly on the rise so did not want anything to destabalise this, they feared fans would confuse this primitive recording as the new album, and might shun them. As it happened, it cemented their legendary status with diehard early fans, many of whom preferred the rawer, gnarly version of their classic songs anwyay.
It worked out OK, because within 2 more years they would sign to a major record company Giant/Warners for 1993's Covenant album.