Morbid Angel Perform ‘Covenant’ & More At Fonda Theatre

Review & photos by Andrew Bansal

November 29th 2013, Fonda Theatre, Hollywood CA: Florida death metal legends Morbid Angel need no introduction to extreme metal fans. Formed in 1984, Morbid Angel have released eight studio albums and slaughtering masses through worldwide tours over the years. Currently, they are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their iconic 1993 release ‘Covenant’ by playing it in its entirety on a North American headline tour, along with one song from each of the other seven albums in an anthological set. They aren’t taking any touring support acts this time around and are being aided by local support in whichever city they play in. For last night’s show at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles death metal bands Abysmal Dawn and Crypt Infection were chosen to fulfill this task, and the stage at this rather classy venue was all set to be crushed by the extreme metal onslaught that beckoned.

Doors opened at 8 PM as the sizable queue of fans waiting outside the venue headed in. An hour later, the first band Crypt Infection took the stage and played 30 minutes of brutal death metal to start things off at this show. The vocal delivery was intense and the musicianship had a lot of technicality to it, specially in the guitar parts, and the band certainly did a fine job serving as a warm-up for the acts to follow. Unfortunately for them, as is typically the case with nearly every LA metal show these days, the crowd was just too distracted and scattered, and very few were even willing to give this band a chance. That being said, this was a good set by Crypt Infection and it’s safe to say their live show could easily make a strong impact in front of a more receptive audience, in a smaller venue.

Visit Crypt Infection on the web: 

Next up was Abysmal Dawn, a band that’s been laying low for the majority of 2013 in order to work on their next studio album, as their last Southern California appearance was as local opener to Cannibal Corpse at the Observatory, as far back as May. But this was a great one-off opportunity for the Charles Elliott-led quartet to showcase their usual on-stage fury and retain their reputation as one of Los Angeles’ finest extreme metal bands. They opened up with the title track off of the Programmed To Consume album, and the rest of their 6-song set consisted of tunes from the Leveling The Plane Of Existence album. For a mere 30-minute set, which in all honesty seemed a little too short for a main support act, the songs were aptly chosen and together they presented all positive aspects of Abysmal Dawn’s musicianship. The set had a steady buildup with the first four songs and ended on a high with ‘Leveling …’ and ‘In Service Of Time’ which finally woke up most of this crowd and got the mosh pits rolling. Abysmal Dawn is always impressive live and last night was no exception. This is a band that needs to be playing shows more regularly, and Los Angeles’ extreme metal fan base will certainly hope for that to be the case once the new album comes out next year.

Visit Abysmal Dawn on the web: 

Set List:
1. Programmed To Consume
2. My Own Savior
3. Rapture Renowned
4. Perpetual Dormancy
5. Leveling The Plane Of Existence
6. In Service Of Time

Finally at 10:45, the curtains were pulled skywards and Morbid Angel‘s stage setup was revealed, as David Vincent and his band mates made a grand entry amidst raucous cheers of ‘Morbid!’ from this highly excited and mostly young crowd. Witnessing David Vincent’s towering presence and personality from close quarters had these fans absolutely thrilled to bits, and the band wasted no time whatsoever as they delved straight into the Covenant album, opening up with ‘Rapture’, a fitting soundtrack to the explosion of emotion and excitement that accompanied the arrival of Morbid Angel onto this stage.

On they went, playing song after song from Covenant, each of them sounding just as strong as ever and being done complete justice to by the band. They got their sound mix dead on accurate as well, which is extremely important and definitely not a given at most metal shows. It helped present Morbid Angel at their brutal best, with David Vincent’s thunderous bass and vocals, Trey Azagthoth and Destructhor’s combined guitar attack and Tim Yeung’s solid drumming. This incarnation of Morbid Angel has been in existence since 2010, and judging by last night’s show, they seem to have settled down into delivering the level of performance their audience expects from them. The Covenant portion of the set came to an end after 50 devastating minutes, as the song The Lion’s Den perhaps stood out as the most powerful of the lot.

Following that, they brought out material from each of the other albums, giving this group of fans more than their money’s worth. Three decades of Morbid Angel were successfully sealed, signed and delivered last night, with Covenant getting the focus it deserved having crushed the eardrums of extreme metal fans worldwide for 20 long years, along with a healthy dose of other selections representing Morbid Angel’s entire career. Aside from his bass playing and vocals, David Vincent’s commanding yet humorous interaction with the audience between songs played an important part in maintaining the intensity and excitement level high in this theatre through the entire 90 minutes the band was on stage for.

Around the time their latest album ‘Illud Divinum Insanus’ came out in 2011, a lot of Morbid Angel fans showed their frustration at the band for releasing something that didn’t stick to the norm, but fast-forwarding two years, with the quality and sheer strength of live shows such as the one witnessed at the Fonda Theatre last night, fans have long forgotten about the previous album and have resumed adoring their heroes. Morbid Angel still rule extreme metal, and are here to stay.

Check out some Morbid Angel photos below:

Related: Interview With Morbid Angel Frontman David Vincent

Visit Morbid Angel on the web: 

Set List:
1. Rapture
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

Remaining tour dates:
11/30 Phoenix, AZ @ Joe’s Grotto
12/1 Albuquerque, NM @ Dec 1 @ Sunshine Theater
12/2 El Paso, TX @ Dec 2 @ Tricky Falls
12/3 Austin, TX @ Dec 3 @ Red 7
12/4 Houston, TX @ Dec 4 @ Warehouse Live
12/6 Orlando, FL @ Beacham Theater
12/7 Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room