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Gateways To Annihilation
(Earache Records)

As already expected, my personal fave of this issue once again was delivered by the almighty MORBID ANGEL! Florida's masters of total death have returned with a vengeance and certainly won't let anyone of you down! For reasons beyond my knowledge their 1998 offering "Formulas Fatal To The Flesh" never really grew on me in a similar way as all the other MORBID ANGEL releases. But with "Gateways To Annihilation" things have luckily returned back to normal as this disc completely blew me away after its first duration already! Steve Tucker finally stepped out of the overmighty shadow of former vocalist David Vincent, delivered a first class performance on all of the songs and easily makes you forget about Vincent's undeniable abilities. This is without any question the best line-up MORBID ANGEL ever had and would furthermore justify a new genre description: Power Death Metal! I can't recall any Death Metal release that was so professionally produced and still had such a crushing and brutal impact! There's a massive wall of power constantly coming out of your speakers, still enabling you to discover every single instrument and songwriting detail very clearly! Brilliant! Most of the material is either midpaced or in a slower vein (and therefore predestinated to constantly bang your fuckin' heads to!), but still so incredibly brutal that it easily blows away all highspeed acts. As MORBID ANGEL found their unique style a long time ago, you will feel pretty comfortable while listening to the nine brand-new creations (plus two short intros) straight away. Certain parts even may sound familiar. The guitarwork of Trey Azagthoth and Erik Rutan is just awesome, partly surprisingly melodic, but always very unique and groundbreaking for a whole genre and Pete Sandoval's drumming never was from this earth anyway. So, to me "Gateways To Annihilation" is probably the best MORBID ANGEL album since their all-time classic "Altars Of Madness"! New standards have been set and all followers will have to compete with this masterpiece from now on! This is the ultimate!!!

Frank Stöver

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