Sunday, June 27, 2010

Morbid Angel - Domination (1995)

In 1993, Morbid Angel released an album that simplified their sound and presented it to the ignorant masses. As planned, their popularity increased and the record sold well. It was a far cry from their previous works, but it was still bearable. However, in 1995, they crossed the line with Domination. A new studio, a new producer and a new band member as well. Erik Rutan, of Ripping Corpse, was brought in as a second guitar player. He also contributed to the songwriting. I would like to be able to blame him for what happened on this album, as he is the only new element that was introduced into the equation. More likely, Trey decided that it was time to experiment. That was common for many bands, by this point in their career, as well as the era that the album was written and recorded. Whatever the reason may be, the end result was a pile of stinking feces that should never have been released to the public.

It's difficult to even decide where to begin, when attempting to list off the countless faults that this album possesses. The most obvious flaw has to be David Vincent's vocals. His performances on Altars of Madness and Blessed Are the Sick were great, the former being one of my favourites ever. On Covenant, his style was a bit boring and one-dimensional (suiting the overall vibe of the album, really), but it was completely acceptable. For Domination, apparently, he lost any and all will to put forth real effort. I'm not just talking about the horribly comical effects used on "Where the Slime Live"; he sounds bloody awful throughout the entire album. He sounds incredibly weak, as if he lost his voice right before recording. His vocals are strained, pathetic and irritating in every way. It's no wonder that he left the band, shortly after this, as he must have just lost interest in what he was doing. Words fail to convey my utter disappointment in his "efforts" here.

The next problem to address has to be the songwriting. Trey must have run out of ideas, long ago, or become obsessed with the idea of 'making it big'. True, there are still some good riffs that have managed to sneak onto the album, and the solo work is still what one would expect, but the overall composition of the songs leaves a lot to be desired. There are way too many catchy riffs, and it's very blatant. To be fair, even the better songs probably don't get the credit that they might have, due to Vincent's awful vocal performance and the overdone production job.

Regarding the production, it's far too clear and modern for a Death Metal album. Of course, Morbid Angel weren't alone in this and some small credit should be given to them for straying from the typical Morrisound production, but it was too little, too late.

Even the artwork was a joke, as it looked both cheap and too modern, at the same time. The primitive computer-generated art and bright colours was the last thing anyone wanted to see, and certainly aided in the damaging effect that this album had on their career. While it's not important to everyone, I appreciate when the aesthetics fit, and even accentuate, the atmosphere being created by the music. Of course, this abomination doesn't really succeed in imbuing the listener with anything but disappointment, so the cover may be more accurate than it first seemed.

It's sad to see a great band throw away their potential and become a caricature of itself. That is exactly what Morbid Angel did with Covenant and Domination. For whatever they may have gained in the short term, they sacrificed their credibility and have never really recovered. In short, Domination represents the death knell for Morbid Angel. Despite their efforts they were neither accepted by the mainstream nor fully welcomed back into the underground after this betrayal.