1) The Invocation
2) Chapel Of Ghouls
3) Unholy Blasphemies
4) Angel Of Disease
6) The Gate
7) Lord Of All Fevers And Plague
10) Demon Seed
11) Welcome To Hell
(You will find the full original lyrics here !!! Special thanks to Mike Browning !!!)
To make it short and straight to the point: This record is the most important Death Metal album ever !!! On this special page I want to introduce you to some different versions that were available through the years. The one with the colored cover, released on EARACHE as CD, MC and limited LP (see top) is the only official edition of this masterpiece, all other versions are bootlegs and counterfeits !!!
Okay, here are some interesting facts about the recording line-up and credits about the studio and the producers. Most information came from Mike Browning, so I am sure they are right and now it's time to tell the truth instead of wrong credits and rumours circulating ot there !!!
Mike Browning (Drums / Vocals)
Trey Azagthoth (Lead Guitars)
Richard Brunelle (Lead Guitars)
John Ortega (Bass)
This is the first interesting fact. On the official MORBID ANGEL website you can read that all guitars (the bass guitar included) were played by Trey Azagthoth. This is definitely a lie !!! If you know the old live tapes or videos, it is not very hard to figure out the style Richard Brunelle played and I am 99.9% sure that I can hear his kind of lead shredding all over the entire record !!! According to Mike Browning who seems to be a good source to remember the old days (better than Trey...), Richard played his parts on the album by himself. The next fact is that John Ortega was a member of the band until the recording sessions were finished !!! If you watch the video from Bradley, recorded on April 20th, 1986, you can listen to his infernal bass solo in the middle part of "Angel Of Disease" and I shall turn to stone when I'm wrong when I say that he played the bass guitar on "Abominations Of Desolation" !!!
The album was recorded at CENTRAL RECORDING STUDIOS in Charlotte, North Carolina in April 1986. Mike told in an interview that they finished the sessions in less than one week and when I listen to the recordings featured on the album I believe him. MORBID ANGEL are perfectionists since the beginning and I always remember some live and rehearsal tapes where they played their songs to absolut perfection !!! The album was produced by David Vincent who wanted to release this record on his own label GOREQUE PRODUCTIONS in september 1986. As an engineer, Bill Metoyer from the mighty METAL BLADE RECORDS got the job to make the album as perfect and brutal as possible. The mixdown was done by Trey Azagthoth and David Vincent without the rest of the band and maybe at that time Trey and David decided to work together with MORBID ANGEL in the future.
When the album sessions were finished, John Ortega left the band and Sterling Von Scarborough became the new bass player, before he left the band a few months later, together with Mike, to form INCUBUS, but back to the roots now:
As I told, the EARACHE version (on CD, LP and MC) is the only official release of that album, but the very cheap layout doesn`'t tell anything about the album or their makers. No lyrics are included on the 4-page-booklet (sic!), no recording credits, no line-up is written there. The only thing you can read is a small info on the upper right corner of the front cover:
"This is not the new MORBID ANGEL album, but the bands first unreleased studio recording dating from 1986. This most classic underground Death Metal masterpiece is taken directly from the original master tapes showcasing early rough versions of such infamous tracks as "Abominations", as well as many previously unavailable titles."
Guys, that's all !!! No further info or details, just the tracklist on the backcover and inside the booklet the well-known drawing from the bootleg LP...and for sure it was not the bands first studio recording - just take a look at the bootleg section on this website and read the notes about the rare CD "The Beginning"...in full respect of the band and the label, to me it is a cheap and uninspired release without any effort !!! But if you are a die-hard-fan of the album, I am sure you know the bootleg LP, released by SATANIC RECORDS in Japan (in fact it was made by NOSFERATU RECORDS in Italy some sources told...) and this one looks much better and more professional than the only official version...it is very sad that the album didn't get a much better layout including some old pictures, a band history (as written on the backcover of the bootleg LP, used as a root for the history included on this website), the lyrics and, of course, some credits about the studio and the line-up...maybe sometimes they will wake up (maybe in 2011 on the 25th anniversary of the album ???) and release it again in honour of the amazing quality of "Abominations Of Desolation" ??? I am sure the fans would die for a DEFINITIVE EDITION release, well designed and with a huge packaging including some curious and obscure stuff on it...but I think it will be a dream forever...
The next words I want to tell about the different bootleg versions who are available since the early nineties. The first edition must be the black vinyl record, released on SATANIC RECORDS (NOSFERATU RECORDS) in 1991, limited (and numbered) to 1000 copies only.
This version must be the definitive original bootleg, but it is hard to identify, as a counterfeit pressing is available, sharing the same matrix numbers (SAT 666 A / 666 B), reproducing the original cover and label print and even includes the "Made In Japan" credit on backcover and record labels. I discovered it in early 2015 when I did various sound comparison of the different versions I own and asked another collector about some details:
The original bootleg LP (and the one and only initial pressing from Satanic Records) was available on black vinyl only. Most copies were numbered (on a sticker), but there must be some copies available without the numbering. Either they were lost through the years or the original maker didn't use the stickers on all copies. There are two ways to identify if you own an original pressing or a Headache counterfeit LP (which was also available in black vinyl):
The runout grooves on the original pressing are both around one centimeter. On the counterfeit pressing, the runout groove on side b is around 2,5 cm.
If you play the record, you will recognize a glitch on side a (the intro starts with a short rumpling noise, stops and continues after one second with another rumbling noise before). On the original pressing, the intro starts without any damages and a few seconds earlier. Just check your copies to know exactly what you own.
The cover artwork shows a very evil drawing (three demons rape and eat a virgin on a bed), the logo (not the original old one with the winged demon on the left side, but the logo used since 1987) and the title of the album below. I am not sure if this was meant to be the artwork that should used back in 1986 for the release on GOREQUE PRODUCTIONS, maybe it was just made by some tape traders or fans ??? In an early interview (Horror Infernal, October 1986), Trey talked about a painting of Shub Niggurath which should be on the final LP cover, but no further details are known...
I discovered that the original bootleg drawing was maybe created by tattoo artist John Rainey, but I'm not sure. Would be nice to see the real painting, cause the version used for the bootleg LP (and all bootleg shirts available since 1991) looks like a xeroxed one. The interesting thing is that most of the edges and lines of the bed are distorted. On the original artwork everything seems to be fixed (see first tape version, made in the late eighties, in the bootleg section).
Since 1987 the band released some shirts with the "Abominations Of Desolation" motive. Some shirts include a full colored version of the painting. Here are some examples of different shirts:
I am sure that one of these shirts, sold on some concerts only, was the source used for the bootleg LP cover.
Besides the ones with the demon motive, some other shirts were made between 1985-1986. Here is a small selection:
On the backcover of the bootleg LP you can see another picture, made by an unknown painter:
The same picture was used as bottom part for a concert flyer of a show in June 1989, two years before the release of the MORBID ANGEL bootleg LP. I am sure the makers of the record have stolen the painting (thanks to Rob W. for locating this great pic):
But back to the album:
On top of the backcover "Shub Niggurath, The Goat With A Thousand Young..." is written, then came the line-up (with a big mistake: Sterling Von Scarborough is mentioned as the bass player on this recording, but John Ortega played the bass on "Abominations Of Desolation" because Sterling joined the band after the recordings !!!). Then come the recording credits and the second half of the backcover the history is included, but there are also some mistakes and I deleted them when I used it for my website.
The sound quality is very raw and seems to be taken from a 2nd - 3rd generation copy (or higher) of the tape they made in the studio after mixdown. There is a slight amount of tape hiss, some minor drop-outs and a few volume changes here and there, but it is okay and shows the spirit of the old tape trading days, straight dubbed to vinyl format !!! Rumours say that John Ortega spreaded the recordings to friends and fans and they traded the stuff all over the world in a very short time, but it's not confirmed. In 2014, I bought a cassette from a trader from the United States who told me that he received that one in 1987, when he ordered the MATRICIDE demos from Ortega. Unfortunately, the entire recording is included in mono only, but some additional count-ins make this version essential for me as a die-hard-fan and collector.
I suspect that some advance tapes were available to underground magazines and so the recordings (never meant to be released) rumbled out of many offices and home stereos...but to me that sound is a real killer and when you listen to the bad quality recordings you think this must be hell...!!!
There is a very interesting fact about the versions included on the bootleg LP: When you listen to the official EARACHE version, all start and end points of each song were cut very clean and professional, but on the bootleg LP you can hear count-in drumsticks on two tracks ("Unholy Blasphemies" and "Hellspawn") and at the end of the most songs you can hear the guitar amp noise for a second or two...so it must be a copy from the mixdown tape before it was edited on the final master - very nice !!!
If you own one of the countless copies with the SATANIC RECORDS logo on it: Did you ever recognize that the entire album runs a little bit too slow ??? But the good thing of that fact is that you can enjoy this masterpiece a few seconds longer ;) Also the stereo channels are switched. I think the official version, released on EARACHE RECORDS, includes a straight copy from the original master tape, so it should be the definitive guide.
Besides the "original" bootleg pressing (sic!) in black vinyl, some counterfeit versions were made and sold by HEADACHE RECORDS from Luxembourg. The first versions I saw were the splatter vinyl, the red vinyl and the so-called glow-in-the-dark-vinyl (in yellow / orange). The cover and labels are the same as on the original black vinyl version (and in fact both have the same printing quality). There are also some differences in the sound between the "original" one and the counterfeit pressings. First thing is the fact, that all HEADACHE versions (with the matrix SAT 666 A / SAT 666 B) have been ripped definitely from the original black vinyl, which results in a slightly degraded sound and especially on the latest tracks of both sides you will hear more groove distortion (this is a physical thing on vinyl records !!! If you rip a vinyl with a standard cartridge and it will be repressed on vinyl again, the last tracks on both sides will sound more and more distorted !!!). Another interesting fact is the small error on Side A which starts with "The Invocation". After one second the intro is running you can hear a gap and the intro starts again. Must be a mistake by the bootleggers whilst they ripped it from vinyl. All versions I know (splatter vinyl, red vinyl and, of course. the picture LP with exactly the same matrix !!!) have this little error so I am sure they were all made buy the same guys.
There also exist black vinyl counterfeit LPs with the SAT 666 matrix and a few copies with xeroxed inlays in a plastic bag (no hardcover). I am not sure who made these versions...maybe it is another bootleg from the bootleg ??? The labels are always the same...
In 2011, I discovered another counterfeit pressing, this time possibly made in USA (Matrix Side A: S-25376 / Side B: S-25377). I was astonished when some sealed copies were available through eBay and I bought two. First difference is the missing "Made In Japan" credit on backcover and labels. Otherwise, front and backcover look exactly the same as on the original pressing. Only the font on the spine is different, if you compare it to other available versions.
The sound of the LP seems to be the worst of all three different versions. It lacks the clarity and aggressive middle frequencies of the original and the Headache versions and the groove distortion is much more audible as on the HEADACHE RECORDS LP. Not sure, but the whole LP sounds like taken from a tape copy of the original LP. There are more facts that it was sourced from vinyl (or, at least, a tape that was dubbed from vinyl). For example, on Side B you can hear some rumbling noises in the first seconds of "The Gate" which are not available on the original and the Headache pressings. They are also audible on "The Invocation", but not as explicit as on side b. So we have discovered three different pressings of the bootleg album (including various coloured version, but in fact made from the same mother stampers). Besides the regular LPs, there were also picture LPs available since 1991, made by HEADACHE RECORDS. Two different versions were available, both with exactly the same matrix as the coloured vinyl versions (SAT 666 A / 666 B) and definitelyx made from the same stampers:
The picture LP shows a piece of the original front cover from the debut album of UK Death Metal band DESECRATOR, I don't know why HEADACHE used this artwork instead of the amazing regular bootleg cover...maybe the reason could be that this painting was very similar to "Altars Of Madness"...the first edition of the picture LP had the title of the DESECRATOR album on front - a very big mistake from the bootleg company or just an error of a hastily done layout to release the record as soon as possible...on the second edition they erased the title, but used the DESECRATOR cover again...
The backcover of the picture LP includes the logo, the full tracklist and the line-up (with the same mistake as written on the "regular" bootleg LP: Sterling Von Scarborough was mentioned as the bass player, but in fact John Ortega played on the recordings !!!)
The sound quality is really bad and sounds more terrible than the counterfeit pressings on coloured vinyl - the reason must be the picture LP itself, cause we all know (as die-hard vinyl collectors) that picture LPs have always not such a good sound like black vinyl pressings. This version is just a funny and curious add to the collection...
Besides the "regular" bootleg LP versions, the counterfeit pressings and the two different picture vinyls, a box set (limited to 50 copies) seems to exist:
I discovered that picture on Ebay in 2010. I never saw the box set before. The seller told that a shirt and a sticker are included in the box, but it would be very interesting to know more about that very rare and curious thing...I don't know what cover is printed on the box or if it is just pure black ??? Maybe a collector out there has some information - or would sell the set to me ??? I would die for this !!!
In the same time (around 1991) a bootleg tape version was released by a spain label called DICKACHE RECORDS. It must be released short time after the bootleg LP release and it has the same layout as the LP version, made by SATANIC RECORDS:
The sound quality is very similar to the original LP version. You can recognize that the recordings featured here are taken from vinyl source, but the LP was definitely in brand new condition (no clicks and pops). As there are none of the sound issues and glitches written before, this cassette edition must be sourced from the initial bootleg LP and not a counterfeit pressing. On side B, a small error is audible, but it was definitely a fault of the equipment the bootleger used to create his cassette master (a small jump). A collector told to me that the tape was limited to 500 handnumbered copies. You can't find any information about limitation, only the number (mine is 133) is written on the pro-printed cover.
There is a sheet inside the tape. It includes all information about the line up and the recording of the album, taken and copied straight off the SATANIC RECORDS bootleg LP. I also bought a second copy, including the original flyer for the tape version.
I think one of the earliest versions spread around the globe must be a tape version, including the "Abominations Of Desolation" recordings with some additional count-ins. This tape has a different track order and the studio version of "Welcome To Hell" is missing here, so the track was included as a live recording. This tape is very common and I saw it on several trade lists and fan pages, but never had a chance to listen to it. the two copies I bought some years ago were fakes, compiled from the 1991 EARACHE CD and the "Evil Demos" compilation CD.
I don't know who is responsable for the release of that tape version. A die-hard-maniac from the old times told me that the tapes were never made and distributed by the band, so it could be either another advance tape for fanzine editors or a bootleg release by a fan to spread the tracks through tape trading circles...I am not sure about the exact year when this version was released, but I think it must be around 1987 because some old traders told me that they got their copies back then...latest info I got was that John Ortega had a cassette copy of the unedited mix from the studio and made some copies for friends, zines and labels around 1987 (after Trey decided not to release the album definitely).
The tape I bought in 2014 (and which was confirmed by the seller that it was made by John Ortega) has a different cover, but the same trackorder (including the live version of "Welcome To Hell"):
Sound quality is very raw and all tracks are included in true mono only (both channels of the tape include the same information, so maybe it was dubbed with a mono recorder). All songs are uncut mix files, recorded before the final mastering, including additional count-ins, noises from the guitar amps right before the start of several songs etc...Not sure where the live version of "Welcome To Hell" was recorded...I have to check with all material I own to identify the venue and the exact date of the recording. The song on that tape version was edited (the last part is missing and you can hear some added crowd noise instead). Not sure if there are stereo versions in circulation, but considering the rumour that the SATANIC RECORDS LP was made from Ortega's cassette, there should be better versions available.
The latest tape version of the greatest album of all time I discovered around 2011:
This is by far the most professional tape version I ever had in my hands. It looks very nice (including the original GOREQUE logo from 1986), and it includes the original artwork plus the original 1986 album flyer and all lyrics (published for the very first time ever), printed on the flipside of the inlay. Sound is also very good and the printing quality of both the inlay and the tape itself is great (sorry for the bad picture here). Inlay says "Made In Hell" and the tape is limited to 99 handnumbered copies.
The latest bootleg version of the album seems to be manufactured either in the Netherlands or in Scandinavia, cause it is only available from sellers there:
The layout is very similar to the first vinyl bootleg edition, but the band history is missing on the back cover. The picture LP is limited to 300 handnumbered copies, but I am not sure if this is the truth. The sound quality is very clean and without any flaws, drop outs or whatever. I suspect that the bootleggers used the official CD version, cause it sounds very close (except for the horrible surface noise of any picture LP). So this is the only vinyl release, using the flawless original 1986 master, combined with the artwork of the late 80s tape and the 1991 SATANIC RECORDS version.
In early 2015, a CD bootleg popped up on eBay. To complete my collection, I ordered a copy after the seller confirmed that it is a factory-pressed silver disc:
This is the first ever CD bootleg release, including the artwork from the 1991 Satanic Records LP. As a bonus, the complete "Thy Kingdom Come" demo was added. All tracks on that CD were sourced from vinyl, but with very basic equipment I think. The entire audio lacks bass and treble and has a very tinny sound instead. Maybe they used a very cheap turntable for the transfer or decided to "remaster" the stuff. I don't really care about the quality, cause I have many other options to enjoy that fantastic album...but it MUST be a part of my collection !!!
...to be continued...