Morbid Angel and Grave
The Trocadero, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
September 28, 2012
Review and pics by Infamousbutcher
Morbid Angel is one of the most legendary and influential death metal bands of all time, and that reputation is enforced when you see their power and musicianship live. This Fall, in support of last year’s ILLUD DIVINUM INSANUS they are doing their first US tour with their classic era vocalist / bassist David Vincent since 1996! There are many young fans that have only seen Morbid Angel with Steve Tucker at the helm, so this will be an awesome evil experience for them! Support for the tour is being provided by Sweden’s Grave, who is promoting their new album AN ENDLESS PROCESSION OF SOULS. Two of my favorite death metal bands on the same bill, fucking killer!
Tonight’s show is at the Trocadero, an awesome venue for a metal show! The Troc dates back to the 1870s and has been many things over the decades, from performing arts theater to a burlesque house to a concert venue. The downstairs is standing room only and the balcony has seats, total capacity is 850 people. Stage is new and the sound quality is killer, but the barrier 5 feet or so from the stage prevents stage diving. This was not the case in 1994 when I did a stage dive at the Morbid Angel / Crowbar show. The security told us no moshing or crowd surfing when we arrived, which I suspected was total horseshit and I was right! I mean come on, this is a death metal show damn it! Also I have been to the Troc several times over the last 20 years and there has never been a moshing ban.
Grave is revered in the metal underground for making what is arguably the best death metal album of all time, 1991’s INTO THE GRAVE. The only original member in the current lineup is guitarist Ola Lindgren, who took over vocal duties after the departure of Jorgen Sandstrom in 1996. Ola took the stage with band mates Mika Lagren (guitars), Ronnie Bergerstahl (drums) and Tobias Christiansson (bass), proceeding to blast us with new track “Amongst Marble and the Dead”. Sound was thick, tight, and ponderously heavy, like a dump truck dropping 10,000 lbs. of boulders on your fucking head! The trademark Grave low tuned grinding was apparent throughout the set, no band can match that brutal tone! Ola’s vocals were good, not as deep or as guttural as Jorgen’s but they fit the classic tracks very well. Crowd response was good with headbanging and moshing and even the young fans seemed to dig the material. Grave’s 45 min set was chock full of old school brutality like “Extremely Rotten Flesh”, “You’ll Never See…” (HEAVEN!), “Eroded” (rare track, HOLY SHIT), and their signature crusher, “Into The Grave.” They also played 3 new songs off of the recently released album AN ENDLESS PROCESSION OF SOULS. As the set finished I was grinning from ear to ear, wishing there was more! It was a great trip into the darkness, into the grave!
Morbid Angel took the stage at 10:45 and introduced themselves as death metal from the swamps of Tampa, Florida and the place went nuts! The adrenaline level in the Troc shot way up as David and co. gave us our “Immortal Rights!” Sound quality was fucking amazing, intricate musicianship and brutality at the same time. David is a great frontman who loves to rile up the crowd. After the long hiatus his voice is better than ever and he just commands the stage with his evil imposing presence. Death metal’s best guitarist Trey Azagthoth continued his wizardry, effortlessly churning out riffs and solos. I don’t think he looked up at the crowd once; I never saw his face, but who the hell cares? He is definitely one of the best metal guitarists of all time and is really a musician, a composer. Thor is a great rhythm guitarist and has done an outstanding job since taking over for Erik Rutan. And Tim Yueng, filling in for Pete Sandoval (back surgery), is masterful with his blast beats and fills. Pete leaves big shoes to fill, but Tim is so good I have not noticed any drop-off, and I’ve seen Morbid Angel 3 times with Pete and now 2 times with Tim.
Song selection was heavy on classics with only two new tracks, but that’s what the fans want to hear! The whole set was killer, but if I had to pick favorites they would be “Fall From Grace” (David’s spoken lyrics at the end gave me chills down both arms, I am dead serious here!), “Rapture” (In truth, we are ONE!), “Maze of Torment” (ultra-fast old school DM), “Sworn to the Black” (Brutal and better than the album, I was in the pit for that one!), “Angel of Disease” (Oldest song of the night, better than the album, good pit action!), and one of their all-time best live songs, “Chapel of Ghouls” (the feeble church!) Everything sounded fantastic, David’s voice was appropriately guttural and higher pitched when the songs called for it.
A few comments on moshing at age 40. I had a good time in the pit but I have to pace myself now, I don’t have the energy or the mutant healing factor I had at age 22. The pit was more fun than rough, I dished out a few hits and took some, but everyone was all smiles, no fights. Back in the day when I was an angry young man, I hit people much harder. Now, my anger is gone and I just want to enjoy the music with other metalheads.
Ok now for the bad part – after “Chapel of Ghouls”, Morbid Angel left the stage and did not come back out! The other shows on the tour got 5 more songs than we did, including classics like “Where The Slime Live”. “God of Emptiness”, “World of Shit – The Promised Land” and “With Blood On My Hands.” Fans were furious and as the roadies began to take everything apart the Philadelphia booing commenced! In Philadelphia we have now booed Santa Claus (and pelted him with snowballs), Beatle Paul McCartney (I was part of that), and Morbid Angel! After the show Tim came out to meet fans at the merch booth and was apologetic. He said something was wrong with the sound on stage. David did not come out to see the fans. Hey guys come back to Philly soon and give us a few extra songs to make up for the short set!
Overall an outstanding show and as time has passed I remember how great it was rather than the fact Morbid Angel’s set was only 50 min. All 5 of the Morbid Angel shows I have seen over the last 18 years were great, but this one sounded the best. It proves they are still at the top of their game, nearly 30 years since forming in 1984. Scorn of the light, I bear scorn, in rapture I’m REBORN!
Grave set list
1. Amongst Marble and the Dead
2. Disembodied Steps
3. Turning Black
4. You’ll Never See
6. Passion of the Weak
7. Extremely Rotten Flesh
8. Into the Grave
Morbid Angel set list
1. Immortal Rites
2. Fall From Grace
4. Maze of Torment
5. Sworn to the Black
6. Existo Vulgoré
8. Angel of Disease
9. Lord of All Fevers and Plague
10. Chapel of Ghouls