Morbid Angel / At the Gates / Dissection / Sadistic Intent
Live at the Latin Village Pico Rivera, California, March 21, 1996
by: Nick Bassett
A chill rose in the air as the satanic hordes of death metal met on that dark and stormy night in Pico Rivera ... the time of purification was at hand, and what a brutal purification it was...

Agonized screams filled the air as SADISTIC INTENT, the west coast guardians of old school death metal, took to the stage with "Asphyxiation", "Conflict Within", "Dark Predictions", and other morbid hymns from their 1995 _Resurrection_ MCD. An excellent performance, which also included their version of the classic "Return to the Eve" (also appears on the newly-released Dwell Records compilation, _In Memory of Celtic Frost ..._ - see review section for details).

The intermission that followed was filled with the sounds of rap music, which after about half an hour faded out and were replaced by the sounds of "At the Fathomless Depths", the intro to DISSECTION's _Storm of the Light's Bane_ CD. The bullet-belted warriors emerged one by one onto the stage, and broke into "Night's Blood" not a moment after the intro had drawn to a close. The response was overwhelming, though some stared in disbelief, perhaps still skeptical that such a fine brand of black/death metal (as they prefer to be called) would ever grace these North American shores. Up next was "Heaven's Damnation" from _The Somberlain_, their 1993 debut CD. This was received with marked voraciousness, perhaps a little surprising to some, since the album in question had never been released domestically. At about this time in the concert, something went wrong with the electrical system, and everything went to hell. The florescent ceiling lights came on, and the music stopped abruptly. Vocalist Jon Nodtveit ordered that the lights be turned off, though this had no apparent result. After yelling at various people on the side of the stage, he simply sat down in the middle and dragged on a cigarette until the sound people could get their shit together ... which they eventually did, and the band rounded out the show with numbers such as "Retribution - Storm of the Light's Bane", "Where Dead Angels Lie", and "The Somberlain" (finale). Tight performance, great show, despite the technical difficulties.

I'd really like to say that AT THE GATES also put on a great show that night, but the fact is they were on the stage and off again within 10 minutes! Their brief show began with "Blinded by Fear" (opening track on their latest album, _Slaughter of the Soul_), and ended with "Forever Blind", I think it was. Rumor was that the show was "running late," and they had to leave time for Morbid Angel (an excuse I wasn't too satisfied with, since Morbid Angel is one of those bands I see on an annual basis!). I don't know if that's what really happened, but I'd hate to think Morbid Angel insisted on those kind of terms just so they could play for 1:45 instead of 1:30. In any case, they put on a tight show (if it can even be called that), and I'd really like to see them on another American tour soon ... which I've heard rumors of already.

Ok, soon it was time for the headliners ... MORBID ANGEL!! The lights finally went out as the organ melodies of "Doomsday Celebration" began to grind (I remember when they used to use a special, non-album intro tape, but apparently those days are over with). The band dominated the stage with "Dawn of the Angry" from their latest album, last year's _Domination_. They continued to belt out classics old and new, along the lines of: "Where the Slime Live", "Blood on my Hands", "Dominate", "Melting", "Nothing But Fear", "Eyes to See, Ears to Hear", "Blasphemy", "Chapel of Ghouls", "Doomsday Celebration", "Fall from Grace", "Blessed are the Sick", "Day of Suffering", "Lord of All Fevers and Plagues", "Rapture", and "Sworn to the Black". (Hint: it helps to have a set list in front of you at times like this!) Encore was "God of Emptiness". That was my fourth time seeing them, and what can I say, it was pure Morbid Angel: strong stage presence, tight performance (once again), and don't forget David Vincent's (now VERY familiar!) anti-MTV speeches (:yawn:)!! My own personal favorite elements of a MORBID ANGEL show are watching Pete Sandoval play 90 intense, flawless minutes dotted with blast beats; and cheering on Trey "George" Azagthoth during that frenzied guitar solo in the middle of "Chapel of Ghouls". The only thing that could have made the show even slightly better for me would have been if they played more of the really OLD stuff, especially "Immortal Rites" (which I'm quite certain they played last time, and even on their 30-minute opening slot for Black Sabbath back in '93!!). But the set was really quite balanced overall, and so there's really nothing to complain about.

Though the phrase "once in a lifetime" seems a bit too dramatic, this was unarguably the concert of the year for those of us lucky enough to witness two of Sweden's greatest bands sandwiched between two of America's best (and longest-surviving) examples of consistently brutal, unholy death metal!! Judging from what I've heard, the tour was a successful one for all involved parties, so perhaps this will open doors for other such tours. May further hordes of extreme metal find their way to these shores soon.

(article submitted 18/4/1996)


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