Released: 2015, Earache Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Sometimes when life gets too complicated, you just have to step back and think about simpler times – the good ol’ days. Back when you didn’t have to worry about the fickleness of label politics, scene trends, or your frontman turning into a latex clad diva. Back to when you could bite an open wound into your arm and just play death metal.
Such is the promise of JUVENILIA, a ‘new’ limited release live album from Morbid Angel. Originally released on vinyl for Record Store Day 2015 and now available for purchase through digital outlets, JUVENILIA captures a moment in time performance from the band during the ’89 Grindcrusher tour. Though the performance itself has been released on DVD a few times (as LIVE MADNESS and as a bonus Dual Disc on an ALTARS reissue), this is the first time the audio from the show has been released on its own. Yes, it’s easy to cry cash grab, but A) given the low profile nature of the release, that’s unlikely to be the motivation here, and B) this show rips.
The tracklist is basically the ALTARS OF MADNESS record, so you’ll find no complaints there. The mix is a little rough in spots, but I’ll take a more organic performance like this over the stifled production on ENTANGLED IN CHAOS every time. If you never had the opportunity to see the pre-drama, classic Morbid Angel lineup perform, it’s hard to describe how intense they were live – but JUNENILIA is probably the closest representation of what that chaos was like. David Vincent spits blasphemies with a speed and vehemence matched only by the manic wizardry Brunelle/Azagthoth guitar team. And Pete Sandoval pounds the drumkit like Animal from the Muppets after shooting an 8-ball. Plus, there’s the gift of tracks that haven’t made it into the band’s setlist in ages “Chapel” and “Immortal Rites” get plenty of love, but hearing deeper cuts like “Suffocation” and “Bleed for the Devil” is a total treat. The in-between song banter from David Vincent is also kind of fun. Not nearly the orator here that he would eventually develop into, it’s a flashback to a young man learning to command an audience.
The brutality of JUVENILIA doesn’t intend to erase the stain of more, uh, recent releases. But it does a fantastic job of reminding you of how brutal and exciting Morbid Angel were, and could potentially be again.