Morbid Angel

Thursday, February 24, at the House of Blues.

Ani DiFranco Lakewood Civic Auditorium, 14100 Franklin Boulevard, Lakewood 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, $27.50/$32.50, 216-241-5555
A Morbid Angel reunion is kind of like the return of firing squads or hangings: Somehow, death becomes even more grisly.

For longhairs, this is the best news since the advent of the water pipe. Death metal's signature act, Morbid Angel will be hitting the road with its classic lineup for the first time since the release of 1995's Domination, the top-selling album of its kind in the Soundscan era, having moved over 120,000 copies.

The tour should provide a welcome reprieve from an ebbing fan base for this Florida trio, whose last full-length, 2003's Heretic, sold about a sixth of what its biggest album did, leading Morbid Angel to split with longtime label Earache Records.

The band has reenlisted former frontman David Vincent -- last seen with his wife Gen in S&M metallers the Genitorturers -- to help revive interest. Vincent has long been among death metal's most domineering frontmen, sounding like a cross between Freddy Krueger and a grizzly bear with indigestion, but always remaining comprehensible.

Vincent's bandmates similarly cement their place in death metal's pantheon. Guitarist Trey Azagthoth subverts Eddie Van Halen's wide-eyed fretboard freakouts with Sumerian mythology and warp-speed riffs blacker than burnt rubber. Drummer Pete Sandoval has to be heard to be believed -- and even then you'll wonder how something made of flesh and bone can sound like an overdriven drum machine. Sticking solely to material from its first four albums -- three of which are absolute classics of the genre -- Morbid Angel is back with death metal worth dying for.

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