Morbid Angel’s “Altars of Madness” gets the FDR treatment

Morbid Angel, Altars of Madness

Morbid Angel’s classic debut needs no introduction, so let’s get to it.

From Earache’s press release (red added for emphasis):

Altars of Madness has now been specially remastered from the original tapes in Full Dynamic Range (FDR) audio, allowing the music’s nuances to shine through and giving the whole album a more ferocious sound than ever before.

Comparing lossless versions of both the FDR and standard releases from Bandcamp finds the standard version of “Immortal Rites” at a very respectable DR Rating of 9, while the FDR version rates an impressive DR12.

TT DR results for Standard Version:

-----------------------------------------------
 Statistics for:	01 Immortal Rites.m4a
 Number of Samples:	10739232
-----------------------------------------------

		Left		Right

 Peak value:	-0.10 dB    	-0.10 dB
 Avg RMS:	-9.78 dB    	-10.11 dB
 DR channel:	8.49 dB    	8.96 dB
-----------------------------------------------

 Official DR value:	DR9
===============================================
TT DR results for FDR Version:

-----------------------------------------------
 Statistics for:	01 Immortal Rites.m4a
 Number of Samples:	10773708
-----------------------------------------------

		Left		Right

 Peak value:	-1.28 dB    	-1.97 dB
 Avg RMS:	-14.17 dB    	-14.95 dB
 DR channel:	11.42 dB    	11.74 dB
-----------------------------------------------

 Official DR value:	DR12
===============================================

However, comparing the waveforms visually appears to show the FDR release simply being a quieter version of an already fairly dynamic mastering:

Morbid Angel's "Immortal Rites" FDR and Standard version compared.
This shows the opening riff of Immortal Rites (after the backwards bit) in FDR, then Standard, then FDR again, then Standard with some volume matching applied (-4db). Listen to this clip here:

Sonically, the FDR version is definitely easier on the ears, but I’m not hearing anything revelatory as I did with Earache’s FDR releases for Carnage’s Dark Recollections or Entombed’s Clandestine. My hunch is that this isn’t shenanigans on Earache’s part, but rather that this mix was simply never destroyed by mastering, even when it was reissued (and presumably remastered). Since it was never brickwalled, doing whatever they do to FDR (presumably, removing all mastering entirely) doesn’t reveal anything new.

That doesn’t mean this isn’t a valuable release to have, though and if I were buying Altars for the first time (especially on vinyl, assuming I couldn’t afford an original), this is the version I’d get. Just don’t go in expecting to hear a completely new album if you’re already familiar with it.

Worthy of mention is that this version omits all bonus tracks that have been included on recent reissues, including “Lord of All Fever & Plague”.

Vinyl is available in black, as well as the following limited edition colors:

  • 100 Ghoul Green in Black & White Sleeve (sold out)
  • 200 Ghoul Green (sold out)
  • 300 Evil Spells Purple
  • 400 Immortal White
  • 500 Blasphemy Yellow

Vinyl is available now:

As well as digital:

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