Morbid Angel - Formulas Fatal to the Flesh
Earache Records
Death Metal
14 songs (52:47)
Release year: 1998
Morbid Angel, Earache Records
Reviewed by Tony
Archive review

Whomever is responsible for having two of your resident Extreme Metal specialists review the remaining two Morbid Angel releases had a bright idea on their hands! Between this, Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, and Domination lies a live album, and an excellent one at that. But here under the microscope is their “F” album, Formulas Fatal to the Flesh. Morbid Angel are fortunate enough to have their three most important musicians remain almost throughout the entire discography. David Vincent on bass and vox, Trey Azagthoth on the lead guitars, and Pete Sandoval on the kit. These three musicians could carry the band themselves, with the likes of Richard Brunelle and Erik Rutan providing what is only a muscular under layer for Azagthoth’s adept shredding.

With the previous effort, Domination widely known as the soft underbelly of Morbid Angel’s early discography, how exactly does Formulas Fatal to the Flesh fare? Interestingly enough, the sound has not changed much, the talent is in the same place it was before, but the intensity is once again lifted, Sandoval once again comes to the forefront, and David Vincent delivers what may be his finest performance on the bass guitar. Formulas… has the same zeal for brutality that its immediate predecessors have, but with a more mature and modern sounding band. As previously alluded to, the Hurricane Andrew chugging sound is still present. When Morbid Angel can combine their droning, deep rooted sound they have on songs like Nothing is Not, while roaring out of the woodwork with tracks like the opener, Heaving Earth, the potential for success is bountiful. Morbid Angel are one of the most successful and talented bands ever to dwell in the genre. Having two legends like Sandoval and Azagthoth are akin to the Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen days of the 90s Chicago Bulls teams. Sorry in advance, for all of the NBA references, but it is playoff time and it looks like Biscayne Boulevard has a shot to bring home another parade.

I am not sure where their interest grew in Babylonian folklore, but there is much more present here than on Domination. In fact, the band have entirely replaced their Satanic themes with those of Babylonian, Sumerian, and Lovecraft fascinations. Some of the lyrics are even in the ancient languages. The album title is a play on letters. F, is the 6th letter in the alphabet. In the title Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, there are three capital F's, lining them up as 666. Chambers of Dis leaps out of the darkness like a bat out of Hell, immediately grabbing the listener and tearing him/her limb from limb. Unfortunately, while this song is fantastic, it also clearly exposes the weaknesses of Formulas Fatal to the Flesh. That being an overbearingly loud (but well performed) lyrical number by Vincent, and lower registered 7-string riffs being far too muddy. This is not the fault of Trey Azagthoth, who as well all know is more than capable of handling his axe with the best of the genre. Very rarely is a band highlighted by two musicians in different sections of the tonality. For example, bands like Hate Eternal, Malevolent Creation, and Kataklysm are driven by their percussion, where bands like Cannibal Corpse rely on their guitarists for support. Here, Pete Sandoval and Trey Azagthoth provide two versatile sources of musical enlightenment.

In many ways, Formulas… carries itself as an amalgam between Domination and Blessed Are the Sick. It is a well known fact that Morbid Angel have never truly played anything that sounded like it was akin to Altars of Madness. Morbid Angel play their hand at a lengthy opus with Invocation of the Continual One. It works its way nicely, unlike some Death Metal which stays at a torrid pace, Morbid Angel always knew how to keep things fresh, even in the midst of slower pieces. While bands like The Monolith Deathcult and Vital Remains seem to have played a better hand at a Death Metal marathon, Morbid Angel certain are competent enough to earn my vote in composing a similar piece in the future. Azagthoth of course solos beautifully, before a groove portion takes flight, peaking my senses. You all should know by now how much I love groove. A heavy beat with a grinding riff, chunky and all, void of monotonous blast beats. It just seems that the fault here is not enough of that, and too many stop and go moments. That goes for all of Morbid Angel. Following Covenant, too much of Morbid Angel slowed down. While this heaviness was welcomed by many, I feel that the 200 bpm solos, rampant double bass, and well wrought blast beats were the keys to their classics. Another element missing from Morbid Angel following Covenant was their penchant for soloing to high paced drum beats.

While Morbid Angel do indeed improve upon their form following Domination, there is still a lack of the edge brought in their first three albums. Let us hope that they can maintain the guile on the fingerboards and the brutality they have always displayed, while always improving upon their form.

Killing Songs :
Heaving Earth, Bil-Ur Sag, Nothing is Not, Umulamahri, Covenant of Death
Tony quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Morbid Angel that we have reviewed:
Morbid Angel - Illud Divinum Insanus reviewed by Jake and quoted 86 / 100
Morbid Angel - Entangled In Chaos reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Morbid Angel - Domination reviewed by Tony and quoted 81 / 100
Morbid Angel - Covenant reviewed by Goat and quoted 95 / 100
Morbid Angel - Blessed Are The Sick reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 9 reviews click here
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