No conversation about death metal is ever complete without Morbid Angel: the Tampa, Florida-based institution led by guitar prodigy George Michel Emmanuel III, better known as Trey Azagthoth.

Since 1986, and even before then if you take their earliest garage band roots into account, Morbid Angel have been one of a few select groups responsible for leading the charge in first developing and then continually innovating death metal through the years.

Early on in his musical adventure, Azagthoth was joined by vocalist/bassist David Vincent, drummer Pete Sandoval and second guitarist Richard Burnelle (for 1989’s seminal Altars of Madness and ‘91’s Blessed are the Sick), before recording ‘93’s Covenant as a trio, and welcoming guitarist Erik Rutan for ‘95’s Domination.

These albums firmly established Morbid Angel’s reputation, at the top of the death metal food chain, but challenges would emerge and be summarily conquered in the second half of the 1990s, when Vincent left and was capably replaced by Steve Tucker for 1998’s Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, 2000’s Gateways to Annihilation and 2003’s Heretic.

Morbid Angel wouldn’t visit a recording studio again until 2011, and when they did the controversial results captured on seventh studio album Illud Divinum Insanus unfortunately overshadowed Vincent’s brief return, casting continued doubt upon the band’s future moves.

But you’d be foolish to ever bet against Trey Azagthoth or Morbid Angel, even as we look back on their discography – so far – and rank each album from worst to best in the gallery above.

10 Greatest Death Metal Bands

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