Covenant 20th Anniversary Tour
The Theater of the Living Arts (TLA)
Philadelphia, PA, November 13, 2013
Review by InfamousButcher, Photos by SheWolf
I was very excited when it was announced Morbid Angel would celebrate the 20th anniversary of their timeless classic album COVENANT by playing the full fucking thing on tour! Has it really been 20 years since Morbid Angel’s blasphemous, chilling COVENANT was revealed to us metalheads? Damn I am getting old! I remember buying a copy of COVENANT along with Death’s INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS and Suffocation’s BREEDING THE SPAWN in June 1993 at my local Sam Goody – those were the fucking days man! This is a once in a lifetime chance to catch the full album live, something I really relish! Grab your inverted cross and copy of the Necronomicon and let’s take a journey into hell!
Tonight’s show is at the Theater of the Living Arts (TLA) on South Street in Philadelphia. Lots of recent metal shows (Anthrax, Death To All) have been at the TLA. The place holds 500 people and is mostly standing room with a good sized stage and a large pit area. Merchandise was good with special 20th anniversary collectibles; I got myself a 20th anniversary shirt with a killer demon on the front!
At 9:30 the lights dimmed and ominous, ghoulish sounding background music ratcheted up our anticipation as we waited for Morbid Angel to take the stage and begin our descent! From the opening strains of “Rapture”, the musicianship was stellar. Frontman David Vincent commanded the stage from the center, exuding a cool, sinister vibe as he delivered an impressive range of vocals and foundation rumbling bass. Decked out in leather and sporting black hair, he may look completely different than he did 20 years ago, but he sounds better than ever! David has the ability to go guttural (“Sworn to the Black”), evil melodic baritone (“God of Emptiness”), blistering fast screaming (“Angel of Disease”), and midrange growl (“Fall From Grace”) and he can effortlessly change up mid song! Guitarist Trey Azagtoth is a wonder to behold, an unmatched master of shredding, riffs, and solos, his fretwork when playing up on the neck of the guitar is just amazing. Strangely, he rarely looks up at the crowd; instead he is in his own world on the left side of the stage producing fucking black magic with his axe! Thor (Destructhor) is a great guitarist in his own right and he has filled Erik Rutan’s shoes nicely. Drummer Tim Yueng has been with Morbid Angel for 2 years now, filling in for the legendary Pete Sandoval. Tim is one of the fastest drummers in death metal and he is so sick and precise there is no drop off from Pete not being there. The stage was adorned with cool COVENANT artwork (a demon greeting people as they walk over the cross, then the demon leading the people off, 20 years ago I had a long sleeve shirt with that print on the back!) and mist machines, I really dug it! This is the way a full album tour should be done people!
The COVENANT material was all rendered perfectly with even more power and conviction than the album. Rarely played songs like “Lion’s Den”, “Pain Divine” and “Vengeance is Mine” were highlights for me. During “Lion’s Den”, David stopped playing bass while singing the WHIPS CRACK, CENTURIONS MIGHT BE KNOWN part, how awesome is that? I felt the best sounding COVENANT tracks were “World of Shit” (The Promised Land), “The Lion’s Den”, “Sworn to the Black”(MY HEART PUMPING ICE!), and of course, the awe inspiring “God of Emptiness” (LIES! AND YOU FILL THEIR SOULS!). Every time I hear it live, I think, wow, that was the best version I’ve ever heard!
After the COVENANT set, Morbid Angel proceeded to give us one track per album in the order of the albums after COVENANT; we fans love this kind of shit! We got a heavy, sludgy, “Where the Slime Live” from DOMINATION (GOD LIVES IN THEIR HEARTS NOW LAID TO REST!), complete with green lighting! Next came the blisteringly fast “Bil Ur-Sag” from FORMULAS FATAL TO THE FLESH, that was followed by a jaw dropping “Ageless, Still I Am” (YOUR BROTHERS FELL BEFORE ME!) from GATEWAYS TO ANNILHATION. From HERETIC came the ultra rare “Curse the Flesh”. I was very happy the band was playing some Steve Tucker material, it sounds even better with David singing! From Morbid Angel’s most recent record we got “Existo Vulgore” before the band went back to their first two classic albums for “Immortal Rites” (ENLIGHTEN US TO YOUR WAYS!) and “Fall From Grace” (I SURVIVE THE SCOURGE AND BANISHING!). I was hoping for an encore of “Chapel of Ghouls” as I got to hear the crowd pleasing staple the 5 other times I have seen Morbid Angel, but it is just a minor quibble. My only other complaint is about the crowd, the pit was too mild given the energy put forth by the band and the previous times I have seen Morbid Angel it was complete fucking mayhem out there. I think it was due to the venue. The TLA is a bit artsy and I just don’t think the metal vibe is as good here as it is at the Trocadero where I’ve seen Morbid Angel 3 times.
The performance was excellent with something for all Morbid Angel fans; I really hope they put out a live DVD of this tour! I saw the original Covenant tour twice in ’94 and this was just as good, and in some ways better because we got the full album tonight. When evil comes to your town folks, you’ve got to witness it live, so be sure to catch Morbid Angel on the COVENANT tour! Scorn of the light, I bear scorn, in rapture I’m REBORN!
2. Pain Divine
3. World of Shit (The Promised Land)
4. Vengeance Is Mine
5. The Lion’s Den
6. Blood on My Hands
7. Angel of Disease
8. Sworn to the Black
9. Nar Mattaru
10. God of Emptiness
11. Where the Slime Live
12. Bil Ur-Sag
13. Ageless, Still I Am
14. Curse the Flesh
15. Existo Vulgore
16. Immortal Rites
17. Fall From Grace