Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Morbid Angel - various pressings on vinyl explained.

Question from Mark ( :

So, back in 2002, you guys reissued Morbid Angel's Altars of Madness on vinyl. Despite not having a turntable at the time, and being something of a collector at the time, I decided to snag one when I came across it in the store while they were still around.
Fast forward ten years, and I finally got my first record player. I started back on the other collector-type vinyls I had acquired in the intervening period, like Relapse's Atheist collection boxset -- I was blown away at how brilliant they sounded! I eagerly waited for Piece of Time to finish so I could finally unseal my transparent-blue pressing of Altars and finally experience it in its original form... Well, I'm sure you know where this one is going.
Honestly, it sounds like garbage. It's full of scratches and pops and just sounds brittle and harsh. None of that characteristic analog warmth, no phrases popping out that got lost in translation on their journey to digital in the CD pressings, or anything. In fact, it sounds markedly worse than the three or four different CD issues I own.
So, I ask you, my dear Earache representative: What gives? Was the original pressing just truly awful? Did you guys royally screw the re-pressing on this edition? And are the recent vinyl reissues of the other Morbid classics subject to this same treatment?
I'd love to buy them all to support one of my favorite (and, let's be honest: probably one of the single most important bands in death metal history) bands of all time, but that seems a rather tall order after the 2002 edition has left such a foul taste.


Answer: Well first of all thank you for purchasing the vinyl back in 2002 on blue wax-  but you were mistaken to think you could " hear the album in its original form". Maybe this blog is too truthful for its own good, but the reality is buying a vinyl is not a ticket for time travel back to the 1980s.

We've sold many thousands but you're the first person to complain to us about the quality - sorry to hear it's not to your liking, but it was never advertised as the definitive audiophile  edition or from original analogue tapes. What you have is a USA pressing made by Earache's office/licensee stateside and was part of a series of approx 10 early Earache albums re-issued in 2002,  and the motivation was simply to make them available again on wax, with nice big artwork, nothing more.

Trends in vinyl come and go,  shaped vinyl was all the rage in the 80s, picture discs abounded,  whereas coloured wax  was a rarity- you could have any colour so long as it's black. Nowadays coloured wax,  swirls and splatter are everywhere, but the fastest growing  trend is the audiophile analogue crowd who favour supreme audio quality over gimmicks.  Our recent 2012 Napalm Death FDR  (Full Dynamic Range) editions of Scum and Feto were made from original era analogue tapes and are audiophile editions with all dynamics preserved,  and have been so well received, we'll do more of those soon, and advertise them as such. To be honest the explanation for any unsavoury sound on the 2002 editions was simply because the loudness war was in full swing in that period.

See pics above of the actual  original metalwork (mother/ stamper) used to press the Carcass Mosh 18 2002 Uk edition, and the info for Mosh 21 Entombed UK 2002 edition at the plant- Damont Audio.

On a related subject,  Earache just announced  pre-orders for the two Iron Monkey albums  which will  be pressed for the first time ever on vinyl - incidentally, all proceeds  go to Kidney research charity.  Denizens of the Doom forums immediately began to question the audio quality, since its not advertised as an audiophile edition, rightly assuming its cut from CD, and bemoaning the lack of analogue signal and  'warmth' which will no doubt result.  This is a hilarious notion when you consider the original master is a DAT tape, as in DIGITAL audio tape. As an aside, it was one of the first productions by an up-and-coming fella by the name of Andy Sneap.

The audio signal is basically this: 1101011000100101010010110101101010  ( the  01011101001 bit is my fave part) so to pretend its an  analogue audiophile edition would be misleading.


ishouldbeking said...

To the poster of the original question: colored vinyl never sounds as good as black vinyl. It will ALWAYS have more scratchy sounds, pops and hisses than black vinyl by its very nature. Collectors like it because it's usually produced in more limited quantities (because manufacturers usually charge more to make it), but the simple truth is that it is an inferior sounding product. Same with picture discs.

I asked a few vinyl manufacturers why this is the case and received the same stock answer: years ago (like way way back), people pressed on all kinds of colors. Different colors were made on slightly different types of materials. Back then, it was decided that black vinyl sounded slightly better than the other types, and so production moved towards pressing everything on black. The vinyl manufacturers continued to refine the formulas of black vinyl over the decades to the point where they had a FAR superior product to anything else available, and that's generally what normal black vinyl is still printed on today. Colored vinyl has had no such period of intense R&D, and it came back in the '90s as a fad to attract collectors. It's popular these days because it's more readily available, but the technology has not evolved in the slightest. In fact, most vinyl pressing machines in use are simply refurbished machines from the '70s and '80s since (at least as of recently), there are no companies currently manufacturing vinyl presses. While vinyl enjoys a quiet rennaissance, the actual technology surrounding its creation is still fairly old. Interesting, that.

Hopefully we'll see some increases in vinyl quality as it continues to gain popularity as an alternative to digital music.

Anonymous said...


Most of your explanation is great, but we need to get someone out in the open for certain people. Just because it is digital does not mean it is inferior quality.

For instance, the DVD-Audio format (and the rival that killed both it and itself) offered 24-bit, 96 kilohertz sample rates in six channels. You could even argue that this was demonstrably superior to vinyl. I have heard a number of songs on it.

The reason why digital has gone backwards from CD and into MP3 is not because of demand, but because of market failure. Specifically, the market failure known as path dependency.

If an independent label (or a collective thereof) were to offer FLACs with 96/24 quality, that would upset Apple's little MP3 apple cart quite nicely. But you did not hear that from me (they hate indies, after all). ;)

Anonymous said...

ishouldbeking, actually, you're wrong. Black vinyl is actually colored vinyl too. Carbon black is added to clear vinyl to make it black. Carbon black is a good heat transference, which may be the reason some would state it sounds better. I'd certainly like to see some hard facts but as far as black vinyl being an uncolored vinyl, you're wrong.