Friday, July 01, 2011

Morbid Angel intro to Immortal Rites- how did it come about?

Question: Hi Dig!

Speaking of Morbid Angel, I have one question that has been nagging me since 1989. You are the producer of Altars of Madness, and maybe you know the answer. How did the backward introriff to Immortal Rites happen? From where came the inspiration/idea? Why was it made this way? Was it a coincident that sounded cool? Was it tried (by the producer) on another album earlier with another band? And is it in the same tempo as the "correct" introriff?

Thanks and cheers!

Torbjörn from

Answer: Recording bands in the analog tape era was a real chore. Ampex 24- track tape was one of the most expensive parts of the process, costing about $350 for each reel, which held 15 minutes of music max. That is also the reason why so many classic albums from the time clock in at 40-44 minutes, it means 3 reels of tape were used in the session.Its also the optimum time for sonic quality on a vinyl LP, 20-22 minutes a side of wax.

Back then, the bigger budget recording studios would employ a tape operator (for smaller budgets this was the usually the engineer himself) for the sole task of operating the bulky 24 track tape machine. Their job would be to fast rewind the tape to precise points so that extra overdubs could be added, eventually filling all 24 channels allowed on the tape. It's no exaggeration to state that a single tape would be played and reversed 1,000 times in a session. Think about that next time you point and click to start a song with yer mouse!

Anyway, as Immortal Rites was being recorded it became noticed that when the tape was reversing at normal speed the main opening riff sounded pretty cool when played backwards. It was remarkably similar to the forwards riff, but with a sort of eerie, other-worldly vibe. Since Immortal Rites was decided to open the album, the band and myself figured we needed a cool intro to come before the main song starts. Usually for a metal band that means creating something evil sounding on the keyboards or a sampler or something to begin the album.

Instead of that, the idea came to me to add a small passage of that backwards riff as an intro. It was meant to imply the band arriving from another, satanic dimension or something, and the album itself explodes with a drum hit and goes into the song. I recall Trey loved it because it added an extra insane vortex of sound to the album, much like he was trying to create within the rest of the band's songs anyway.

To prove its the exact same sound as the rest of the song- here is the beginning of IMMORTAL RITES played backwards. You can hear that the intro is in fact the main riff of the song. It's the exact same tempo, in fact it was completely untouched except recorded at slightly lower volume so the song had impact when it began. I've never heard of it being done before or since actually, but I guess it is such a simple idea, it must have been done somewhere elsewhere, I just don't know any examples.

MORBID ANGEL - Immortal Rites backwards intro by digearache

Heres the actual song played normally:

If you believe in the power of backmasking, as this technique is known, then check this out. When Obama says 'Yes We Can', backwards it is 'Thank You Satan'.
Yep, for real:


markSSS said...

'here comes the neighbourhood' off the 3rd SSS record is our homage to this technique (and M.A in general)!

James said...

There's a similar thing to the Morbid Angel intro on Queen's Ogre Battle, from their second album;

Venite Maledicti said...

I know the demo track for Bloodbath's "Breeding Death" does it for their intro. Probably inspired by Morbid Angel, actually, as Bloodbath is a old-school death tribute band from Sweden, comprised of members from multiple bands.