MORBID ANGEL (1984–PRESENT). Dallas Ward (vocals/bass, replaced by David Vincent, Steve Tucker, Jared Anderson), Trey Azagthoth (guitar), Sterling Scarborough (guitar, replaced by Richard Brunelle, replaced by Erik Rutan, himself, Thor Ander Myhern), Mike Browning (drums, replaced by Wayne Hartsell, Pete Sandoval).
Morbid Angel are one of the most innovative and longest-lasting death metal bands from the American scene, known for their dark lyrics and uncompromisingly aggressive music. The band started in the infernal heat of Florida in 1984 by Trey Azagthoth (George Emmanuel), who was inspired by some of the most extreme sounds in punk and grindcore, and helped, along with the band Death, to found the most extreme of the early death metal bands to develop the core of true underground extreme music in American heavy metal. The band was started in Florida in the early eighties by H. P. Lovecraft fan Emmanuel, along with original drummer and vocalist Mike Browning and bassist DallasWard, singing songs inspired by the fictional Necronomicon and after recording some singles and a first album, Azagthoth decided that the band was not gelling and dissolved it, reforming with a new lineup of David Vincent on bass and vocals, and new drummer Wayne Hartsell, for the new version of Morbid Angel 2.0. At this point the band began to write even more extreme music, and their onstage shows soon began to respect the band’s commitment to their music, with Azagothoth and Brunell opening up their veins on stage and spewing blood over the stage and sometimes the audience, as noted by Mudrian. The band at that point discovered the growing grindcore scene and soon was incorporating blast beats into their music.
When Hartsell was not working out as the drummer, the band recruited noted metal drummer Pete Sandoval to form the nucleus of what would be called the “classic” Morbid Angel lineup. After the more successful Blessed Are the Sick record, Brunell departed and the band continued for a while as a three piece, before signing to major label subsidiary Giant for the next few records. This was a lessthan-perfect fit, because Earache knew how to market bands to the death and black metal scenes but Giant did not. After a few lackluster albums, Vincent departed to be replaced by Steve Tucker from Ceremony, but the magic was gone and the band began to record less and less although they continued to tour with regularity. But something was missing.
Morbid Angel can also be considered a death metal supergroup of sorts, as drummer Sandoval also played in the equally extreme death metal band Death among many others. Today the band continues under the leadership of Azagthoth along with Sadoval, and Vincent, who rejoined the band in 2004, marking the reunion of most of the classic Morbid Angel lineup. Although Morbid Angel was a band who sang songs about horrific deities and netherworlds, particularly the Sumerian gods, they were most often lumped in with the death metal scene in the late eighties and early nineties. Certainly their lyrics could also mark them as part of the black metal scene. Either way, Morbid Angel, along with Death, are two of the most influential of the early death metal bands and they continue to be among the most popular extreme bands in the world.
Discography: Merciless Death (Metalstorm, 1988); Altars of Madness (Earache, 1989); Abominations of Desolation (Earache, 1991); Blessed Are the Sick (Combat, 1991); Covenant (Giant, 1993); Domination (Giant, 1995); Entangled in Chaos: Live (Earache, 1997); Formulas Fatal to the Flesh (Earache, 1998); Gateways to Annihilation (Earache, 2000); Heretic (Earache, 2003).