Groups like Venom, Mercyful Fate, and Slayer may have founded death metal in the early ’80s, but it wasn’t until such disciples as Morbid Angel came along at the close of the decade that the genre was pushed to its most extreme level, both musically and lyrically. Formed in 1983 in Florida, Morbid Angel (along with Death) would also help spearhead an eventual death metal movement in their home state, which would include such notables as Deicide and Obituary, among countless others.
From its inception, the group’s leader has been guitarist/songwriter Trey Azagthoth, who has successfully maintained that Morbid Angel stick to their guns throughout countless musical fads during their career. Over the course of their first few releases, 1989′s Altars of Madness and 1991′s Blessed Are the Sick (the latter considered by many as a landmark release in the death metal genre), the group’s lineup consisted of Azagthoth, vocalist/bassist David Vincent, guitarist Richard Brunelle, and drummer Pete Sandoval. With Brunelle bowing out of the group shortly thereafter and replaced by Erik Rutan, Morbid Angel had come across what would become the longest-lasting lineup of their career, showcased on such albums as 1991′s Abominations of Desolation, 1993′s Covenant, 1995′s Domination, and 1996′s in-concert Entangled in Chaos, before Vincent jumped ship and was replaced with Steve Tucker.
The Tucker-led lineup lasted for a pair of releases, 1997′s Formulas Fatal to the Flesh and 2000′s Gateways to Annihilation, before he was replaced with former Hate Eternal vocalist/bassist Jared Anderson. Morbid Angel spent the summer of 2001 touring U.S. arenas along with Pantera and Slayer as part of the multi-band Extreme Steel Tour. After briefly rejoining the band and recording their seventh studio album, Heretic, Tucker left again to be replaced by Vincent. Although the band continued to tour, with multiple lineup changes, a new record didn’t materialize until 2011. Illud Divinum Insanus was released through the independent French label Season of Mist, and was the only one to feature Vincent following his return in 2004.
After another lengthy gap in recording — and the news in 2015 that Vincent had once again left the band — Tucker rejoined Morbid Angel. Although they intended to tour in 2017, they were forced to cancel their booked shows due to passport issues. Eager to fix the problem, Morbid Angel planned to reschedule the tour for 2018, and in the meantime released their ninth studio record, Kingdoms Disdained, in December 2017. ~ Greg Prato