Morbid Saint - Spectrum of Death Review
by Matt Hensch
"Spectrum of Death" is the definition of an obscure classic. When it was originally released in 1988 by Wisconsin's Morbid Saint, the album made but a ripple on the growing thrash scene despite having the force to scrape the skin off an elephant's ass. Hearing this for the first time was like having someone rip out and then crack my sternum in two, only to beat me unconscious with large chunks of my bone fragments. Only something so bestial, deadly, poisonous, and dripping with tough-as-nails riffs and destructive snarls could come from an 80s thrash band, and there's no album more vehement that you'll ever experience than Morbid Saint's first and only record. The sinister guitar work is like witnessing a madman slamming his head into a wall until his brain seeps out, the percussion a tornado of sonic booms, and the disgusting grunts of Pat Lind leading this battalion of acid-soaked mayhem. "Spectrum of Death" will floor your ass quicker than you can cognitively possess the impending storm of ravenous, frenzied thrash flying at your face.
Lasting at thirty-two minutes within its eight slices, one would think that this record would be a quick jab of metallic bliss. In and out, simple as that. Sorry kids, but Morbid Saint does not let you go without finishing your meal. And by meal, I mean they literally shovel blazing riffs by the handful down your throat, even before your stomach can process just what in the hell is going on. Listen to "Assassin" and "Scars" and tell me how many riffs there are. Maybe four hundred per song, playing it safe. Now without the exaggeration, these dudes had a goddamn vault of perfect thrash riffs hiding from everyone, and each track salivates pound after pound of fiery licks that demand you bang your head. Technical and cunning, it's impossible to not be completely captivated by the electricity of Morbid Saint's guitar work. You'll despise this album if you hate awesome riffs.
As already stated, Pat Lind lends his shattering rasps to the slaughter and his vocal performance is a seminal portrayal of an ideal thrash vocalist: unique, mighty, hazardous, and critically demonic. Every other facet (drums, bass, solos) falls into place somewhere between the net of cracking guitar work and Lind's viperous strikes, sounding fierce overall. Point is, the men of Morbid Saint knew thrash from end to end, and it didn't hurt that they were fantastic songwriters as well; see the layers of "Assassin" or the seizure-inducing butchery throughout "Damien" if any doubts still persist. Plus the production is rare and raw, a perfect fit for this menacing piece of destruction. You honestly have to hear how intense this is; thrash has never looked so lethal.
There's nothing about "Spectrum of Death" that grants Morbid Saint a crown of innovation, yet everything they touched raised the bar; they gladly stared at the standard of thrash right in its disfigured eye and topped what everyone else was doing with monumental ease. Morbid Saint was never included among Slayer or Exodus as one of thrash's finest guardians, unfortunately, but interest in the record has steadily increased over the years, and now it rightfully resides in a comfortable position on thrash's food chain. Hell, the amount of intrigue even inspired Morbid Saint to fully reunite and finish the onslaught after years of inactivity, and once again, a stray found its way back its dismembered, hellish, bestial excuse of a home. So beautiful. You will never experience totally intensity until "Spectrum of Death" has shattered your eardrums, and you will listen to it. Satan demands it!
Morbid Saint - Spectrum of Death
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