mastered by Patrick W. Engel at Temple of Disharmony
While words like “underground” and “cult” get thrown around a lot in metal circles, they could not be more apt to describe “Spectrum of Death” by Morbid Saint from Sheboygan, a small town in Wisconsin. Getting together in late 1984, the founding members eventually formed a five-piece that churned out some of the wildest thrash there has ever been.
Death manager Eric Greif, who went on to also handle their business affairs, recorded and produced their first eight compositions, which came out on his own imprint Edge Records in 1989 under the title “Lock Up Your Children”. He then licensed this demo to Mexican label Avanzada Metálica, who released it one year later as “Spectrum of Death” on vinyl, CD and cassette.
Apart from small-scale praise within devoted circles, the rock-rabid kids led by guitarist Jay Visser (after a hiatus of more than 15 years the last remaining founding member) did not make much of an inroad with this rapid-fire weapon of an album, not least because it was ahead of its time just like the group’s less obvious peers apart from early Slayer or Kreator: Sadus, Demolition Hammer and Whiplash.
In their early stages, the fledgling instrumentalists covered their idols, ranging from Judas Priest across Mötley Crüe to Black Sabbath – all the while using improvised equipment due to missing financial means – but before long switched to self-penned material and singer Pat Lind, who had been in the band for merely two weeks in advance of the studio date.
The result was "the definition of an obscure classic" (thrashpit.com) and no less than "one of the finest monuments to heavy fucking metal on this planet" (metalcrypt.com), complete with an iconic artwork of demon ghostly faces representing undead souls and surrounding a monstrous face not unlike that of Iron Maiden’s Eddie.
Whereas songs like ‘Damien’, which was clearly inspired by the movie “The Omen”, remind us how well metal and horror go together and the incredibly intense ‘Scars’ sums up quite summarily how fucked-up mankind is, closer ‘Beyond the Gates of Hell’, marks an epic highlight on the album, which does not need more than 32 minutes to make an unmistakable statement that is as valid today as it was back then.
Crowning it all were typically adolescent lyrics encompassing well-established metal tropes as well as drums captured without aseptic click-track that channelled all the rawness and aggression. Morbid Saint were rejected by labels like Combat Records because of just everything they stood; hardly anybody saw the potential within their unique characteristics.
With coming of age and shifting perspective, the quintet finally called it a day in 1994 in the course of a final show in December 1993, all the while sparsely distributing an advance tape for a tentative second album called “Destruction System” that was never properly published.
Nevertheless, “Spectrum of Death” got bootlegged – which speaks volumes of its belated but lasting appreciation – and officially reissued several times throughout the years, partly with more or less extensive bonus materials, amongst them new tunes for a comeback full-length still in the making. Now the incendiary classic gets a due vintage treatment, with both sound (remastered by Patrick W. Engel at Temple of Disharmony studio) and artwork (by John Kujawa, who also designed sleeves for the likes of Acrophet and Numskull) staying true to the original.
The new High Roller vinyl edition (coloured wax available) guarantees a most authentic overall experience for connoisseurs and the uninitiated alike. Its patina has only grown thicker over time, screaming – and loudly so – to be rediscovered or newly encountered.
A “thrash-terpiece … one of the greatest thrash metal albums of all time … a definite must have”(metal-temple.com)