MORBID ANGEL: SICK BAND, BUT HELD BACK BY A MEDIOCRE DRUMMER???
In any band, there’s usually one member who’s the driving force behind the group, and carries the other guys: Greg Ginn, Les Claypool, Justin Timberlake… you get the idea. Such is the case with death metal legends Morbid Angel — the whole band essentially stands on the shoulders of one member, but it’s not the one most of you dorks are thinking of. Lettuce be reality, brahs: Pete Sandoval’s drumming is the definition of mediocre (and before you start arguing, remember that trusted, mainstream news outlets such as NPR have recognized me as an authority on metal drumming).
File this under “sacred cow barbecue” if you want, but I’ve finally come to terms with the truth about Morbid Angel: they have their moments, but are held back by Pete Sandoval’s dull, unimaginative playing (and consistently bad drum sounds). I’m not saying Pete is a bad drummer, because he certainly isn’t, but I am saying that his playing is several orders of magnitude behind Trey Azagthoth’s, and that the bad would be approximately 1 zillion times better if they had someone else on drums.
U MAD?? See if you don’t change your mind after the break…
I’m not trying to hate on Pete, and I am certain he couldn’t possibly care less what I think about his playing, but he is really kind of crappy considering how many people have been on his dick over the years. Specifically, he’s boring and uncreative (which is compounded by the fact that he plays in a band with one of most creative, innovative guitarists/songwriters in death metal), and his drums sound incredibly cheap and shitty. My mind reels when I think of what MA might have sounded like if they replaced him with Brandon Thomas from Ripping Corpse when they snagged Erik Rutan — they really came into their own as songwriters around that period, only to have Sandoval stink up their albums with his dreadful drumming.
A few examples to illustrate my point:
Most people don’t realize that Morbid Angel is actually at their best when they’re playing slow, letting Trey’s intricate playing breathe. In terms of songwriting, “God Of Emptiness” is one of their finest moments — truly brilliant death metal. However, it’s almost hard for me to listen to this song, because of the fucking incredibly weak, thin, cheap snare sound. It honestly sounds like he’s using 7A’s with the $50 aluminum snare you would get for 6th grade band with a thin, worn-out pinstripe head on it. To make matters worse, the damn ride cymbal is like twice as loud as the snare! No idea how they signed off on this considering that there were plenty of sick death metal drum sounds at the time to reference, such as Obituary’s The End Complete, or any of the Alex Marquez bands (Solstice, Resurrection, etc).
Another example of a brilliant Morbid Angel slow jam ruined by the drumming. The part at :30 is just embarrassingly uncreative, and once again the weak, thin drum sound rears its ugly head. The snare is so obviously and poorly triggered that is reminds me a bit of Enemy Soil, which is not a good thing since they used a drum machine! The perfect template for drumming on this sort of a song is Dave Witte’s playing/sound on the Iabhorher 7″— so fucking thick, crushing, and tasteful.
Excessively loud cymbals seems to be a chronic issue for Pete — I can hardly listen to this album because all I can hear is the fucking hi-hat going SHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSH.
WTFFFFFFFFF is up with the drumming during the bridge at 1:05?! It’s just begging for some kind of intricate, jazzy interlude with some nice cymbal work or something (a la Candiria, Cynic or Atheist), but instead you get what sounds like a Garageband scratch track that a guitarist would make during pre-production as a placeholder — and once again, the ride is louder than the snare!
Do u think Trey plays rings around Pete??? Does Pete use a cheap, off-brand snare because he squandered all his money on Ranma 1/2 swag?? What would Morbid Angel sound like with Tony Laureano, Sean Reinert, or Brandon Thomas on drums??