Morbid Angel is one of the founding fathers of the style dubbed "death metal". With brutal speed and riffs, plus low and powerful vocals, they established themselves in the genre when few had realized its budding potential. Trey Azagthoth, the guitarist and mastermind of Morbid Angel, gives us some insight into the band, some advice on professional musicianship, and some info on their new release: Heretic. (In the photo, L to R: Pete Sandoval, Steve Tucker, Trey Azagthoth)
Tell us a little about your music background and how Morbid Angel started...
Trey: I started Morbid Angel back in 1984. Inspired by the way I was moved by the music I listened too I just had to be a part of it. In Morbid I wanted to express feeling and imagination through music that would move people in a special way and offer a greater sense of what was possible in music. I never cared for theory, only for feeling and vision that transcended beyond so called "rules". Music has no meaning. It is pure energy, free from any limitation and it is about movement. My writing, playing has nothing to do with training or thinking, these conformations only hinder the sweetness of the expressions of the love.
You have a new album coming out very soon. How do you usually go about writing your lyrics and music? For me in creating music its all about coming from that silence between thoughts. As for any lyrics I write, I come from the principles that allow creation to spark, make poetry that expresses the principles that allow the inner self to express with clarity.
What kind of gear and effects did you use on the new album? As with all the other recorded we made I use 2 Marshall JCM 900 high gain dual reverb amps and classic 1960s bottom cabs. For my basic tone I use the Rat distortion and a Rane EQ. Guitar into Rat into Rane into Amp. As for FXs I have a Univibe, MXR Phase 90, and a Morely Bad Horse WOW WOW, all of these go in front of the Rat. I have the Univibe on a midi effects loop to go in and out of the chain via midi because the Univibe is a nasty, leaky box. I use the Eventide H3000s in my rack, via the left and right effects sends/returns from my amps, to create the Stereo Imaging that builds the Lava Landscapes. I use the H3000s for my stereo delays and other cool textures. I got all kinds of guitars that have custom pickups and wiring for my solos, single coil pickups and /or humbuckers with split coil tap, phase switch. All kinds of tone options there in combining different pickups and electronics. Last but not least I swear by Mic_ing Technologies Mic_ing Techniques. Such innovative ideas as the Anti-Vacuum Culture and Wind Rift Mic_ing Techniques.These texturing tools are used all over this new cd as well as also used on Formulas Fatal to the Flesh and Gateways to Annihilation. Just listen the the solo in the first track on Heretic "Cleansed in Pestilence". I used the Anti-Vacuum Culture Mic_ing Technique on the right channel/speaker and the Wind Rift on the left channel/speaker. There are no "normal" microphone setups for that solo at all, and there are many other uses of the special Texturing throughout the Heretic cd. :)
What are your favorite artists/bands? I'm a listener of music with snappy, groovy stuff going on.
Who is the one guitarist you admire the most? Why? Eddie Van Halen is my fave. He inspired me with his style more than anyone else. His feeling and vision was unlike anyone.
What is your favorite brand of guitar? Don't have one fave brand. I think they all can make quality stuff if they want to. I have fave guitar shapes for sure, reason is a combination of how awesome the shape looks and how comfy is it to play on. Strats are such an uncomfortable shape to chew up rhythms on. Something about how my right arm sits on it. Songs like Rapture with its picking style are very difficult to play on a strat shape. Other songs we play works fine on a strat such as the song Sworn to the Black, its a different type of picking technique. I use countless picking techniques throughout the vast style of Morbid Angel riffing. When the Ibanez 7 String Universe came out I had to get one to further broaden Morbid's style. This surfaced on the cd Covenant with songs such as "God of Emptiness" and then later on Domination with the song "Where the Slime Live". Since the 7 String was only available as a Strat I had to further stretch my technique and mold with that shape. Anyways, my fave and most comfy shape guitars to play would have to be the Gibson style Flying V and the BC Rich IronBird. I say Gibson style V because I don't really care to ever be stuck on a 22 fret neck such as how all the Gibsons come and I don't care for the other guitar comps' V's that they offer. I have a custom Hamer V that has the 50's Gibson V styling but with 24 frets, 2 humbuckers neck/bridge and a single coil middle with a 5 way selector switch, split coil tap and phase switch,......and of course a Floyd Rose locking whammy bar. All of my guitars have a Floyd Rose Wammy, even the Gold Label Charvel Explorer that I bought from the House of Guitars in NY. This guitar came with 1 humbucker and some junky going outta tune ass tremolo on it. Even though it is some kind of "classic" I guess, I still had it hacked up to suit my preferences by having 2 single coils, 5 way selector switch, phase switch and a Jackson Style Floyd Rose. I never tour with this guitar but I always break it out for solos on records. Funny enough but my favorites sit down in the couch in front of the TV playing guitars, which I used on countless solos on records including the solos in "Where the Slime Live" is my Bright Orange Ibanez RG Strat with a maple fretboard, 2 humbuckers, mid single coil. This is also my main tour bus guitar. Almost forgot, for my guitars I use the PAF Pro F spaced bridge pickup for my rhythm tone.
What is your favorite Morbid Angel album? Why? I think they're all filled with cool ideas and feelings. Domination is my least fave only because of the mundane lyrics.
If you could say anything to aspiring metal guitarists or death metal bands, what would you say and why? Just play/express from within your heart. The mind is cool at keeping track of details, scales, whatever, but it is the higher source from which all CREATION comes.
I would like to thank Trey Azagthoth for taking some time to interview. Please visit the official Morbid Angel website at: www.morbidangel.com