Interview with Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel (1998)

from Hellfrost

Greetings Trey. As its been said, a new chapter of Morbid Angel has begun. What is your perspective on finally having the new LP out?
Trey: Well, I think it’s great. I’ve been real excited about the whole process of it I think I have a chance to show what I feel the band is all about, getting it back on track, getting it back to what I think is the true Morbid Angel, the death/black metal type of vicious band, not a band that is trying to be too smooth sounding or whatever. I’m real excited, man. I’m happy with the way it sounds, the performances, all that stuff.

Explain the title Formulas Fatal to the Flesh.
It’s based on the concept “Flesh over Spirit is the motivator of the worthless, Spirit over Flesh is what causes Brilliance”. It’s basically talking about how I feel that all humans are created equal and with the same potential, meaning we all hold these gifts, the 3 gifts, meaning the Spirit, the True Will, and the Imagination. And when we use these powers, I feel that’s when we are able to bring the best of ourselves out in more of a Spiritual-based type of behavior, and when people ignore these things, going through life without even touching on any of these things, I feel that that’s where people aren’t able to bring much out of themselves. That’s kind of what it’s all about.

Explain the artwork for Formulas Fatal to the Flesh.
: It’s the Sumerian God (the lion) basically purifying mankind. Powerful and projecting the true spirit of the Ancient Ones.

One thing I’m sure you’ve been asked before, and that a lot of the fans are wondering about is the continuation of Morbid Angel albums being released alphabetically. David Vincent claimed once before that this was all coincidence. What is your input on this situation?
Trey: Well, I guess maybe for him it was kind of coincidence, but I think it has a true purpose. I think the band is a reflection of the Ancient Ones. You know, we’re the instrument, the vessel. The material body that is filled by their presence. Basically the albums going in sequence is about the concept “I am the Word, I am the Truth, I am the Power”.

So it’s from the Sumerian alphabet? I’ve heard that because Abominations of Desolation starts with “A” and Altars of Madness starts with “A”, is that because there are 2 "A"s in that alphabet?
: No, it’s really not. Abominations of Desolation, to me, is not considered a true album. It’s considered a demo, an experimental project that did not materialize with the brilliance I thought was needed to be in a debut album. Altars of Madness is the first “A”. It’s based on the Greek alphabet, or maybe the English alphabet. As far as the Sumerian words that I use, its not proper Sumerian grammar or anything, it’s more of my own Sumerian spiritual language. It’s like symbolic, a coded spiritual language.

Do you think there is a different vision on Formulas compared to Domination? It is a faster, more brutal album and it seems to have more depth as well.
: Yes. There’s a huge difference, they are worlds apart. Domination is a digital environment, it’s a metronome, a bunch of fancy things and singing and that which has nothing to do with anything I’m into, it is a very clear sound, a little too clean, maybe a little too industrial. All that has nothing to do with what I’m wanting to do. This album, Formulas Fatal to the Flesh has no metronome, very little digital stuff, the drums are proper, as far as their mics, its not just a bunch of samples. A lot more overhead and ambient mics. A much more living feel as opposed to a mechanical feel, which I think Domination was.

You have always proclaimed that if you’re a member of Morbid Angel, you must have an extreme personality and be able to understand the true vision. Was finding someone who qualifies a difficult task?
: Well...(pauses)...”extreme” to me is someone who believes in themselves and they’re not afraid to be enthusiastic, and they’re not afraid of people going ‘Oh, you’re weird!’ or ‘You’re a freak’ or ‘Your’re not cool enough’ or whatever. It’s like being yourself, man. If you feel like exploding or being silly and having a great time and doing that. It’s about being your own boss. It’s against the view that is being all trendy, and being all careful making sure they’re cool enough for their friends and all that garbage. I found Steve to be great for the band, because he has a great voice, a real deep voice and he’s a hard worker. He’s not a slack-off or a loser, he works very hard at it. He really wants to do something special and if there’s a lot of work involved with it, he’s going to do that. It’s very important for him to do everything he can for this band.

There was a crazy rumor about 2 years ago that the vocalist of the Norwegian black metal band Immortal was going to replace David Vincent. Was there ever a consideration of the band?
Trey: No, it was never a consideration, I like Immortal and I like the people in that band, but that’s not the kind of voice I was looking for. He has more of a raspy voice and I was looking for more of a deep voice. So that was never really a consideration.

A situation that every band faces when they replace a vocalist is that the new guy must learn all the songs the band has done in the past. How is this coming along and will you play many old songs in your upcoming tour?
Trey: He doesn’t have to learn all the songs, we’re not going to be playing a 10 hour set. We’re going to pick a few songs from the old stuff and that’s that. The old stuff is cool and all, but I’m picking the songs that the lyrics mean something to me, that really comes from a powerful area to fill out the set. But mainly, the new set is going to be all the new songs. We’re going to play basically ever song off the new album, and fill in the spaces with some of the other songs. So no, he won’t have to learn every song from every album, that’s ridiculous.

In the past, songs like “Blasphemy” and “Bleed For The Devil” dealt with occult themes in a more direct way than they do now. What is the connection with Sumerian mythology and Satanism?
Trey: Well, okay let’s step back. You’re talking about songs from Altars of Madness, songs that are about tearing down the old limitations and beliefs. Those songs curse and chew up Christ, and all of Christianity and the limitations they want to put on us. But - I’m done with Christianity. Christianity doesn’t mean shit to me. It doesn’t affect me, it doesn’t phase me, it has no power over me, it’s nothing - I’ve buried it. In my world it is inferior. So now, we’re talking about our world. Not always what’s bad about someone else’s world. We’re talking about what is better. It’s easy to sit there and criticize everything. But it’s a lot more difficult to show a better way. You’ll have to read the lyrics and dig out what I’m really talking about. Part of it is basically about the Great Incantation of the Living Continuum. That’s the better way. It’s something we want to be a part of. It’s about growth, about making things happen that are alive and have power and have great impact. To be the ones responsible for the great things that happen within ourselves, instead of waiting around for other people to do it for us. There is a lot more to it than that, more than what we can discuss here, so you’d have to log onto the Morbid Angel website and, I’m going to have a lot of essays and things, talking about my ideas. Our lyrics this time around are a lot deeper than anything we’ve ever dealt with. There are no superficial, shock tactics anymore. No more “Kill the Christians” and whatever. They’re a lot deeper than that, I’d say a thousand times more powerful than “Crush the priest, the feeble church”[from the song “Immortal Rites” - ed], that’s already been done. We have crushed - all power any Christian priest could ever have over us. We’ve already demolished it’s fucking ass. How much more do we need to have to dig ‘em up and spit in their face? That’s boring for us.

I see what you mean...
: The true enemy of mankind is criminals. Not just Christianity, it’s criminals, people who are fucking losers and want to fucking steal shit from other people rather than to work for themselves and make things happen and earn things. That’s what I’m talking about. That is the real enemy. I've always considered true Satanism to be a means of "becoming your own God". Being a Christian and following the words of the Bible, that were all written by man in the first place, seems really stupid...