LIVE at Brick by Brick
April 11, 2023 Review by Chris Hazel


Morbid Angel’s San Diego show occurred before the devastating March 31st storm that swept through Belvedere, Illinois, the same night as their concert. A tornado hit the 100-year-old Apollo Theater causing the roof to collapse, killing one person in attendance, leaving several others severely injured, and destroying Crypta’s tour RV. The tour has rescheduled some dates and has continued to carry on. OC Music News sends our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the individual who lost his life and to everyone else who was injured and tragically affected by this. We lost a brother in the metal community. (R.I.P. Fred Livingston Jr.)


Legendary death metal band Morbid Angel has been defining what we know in extreme heavy metal for 40 years and continues to release sick and twisted masterpieces for our enjoyment. The band is currently on their United States Tour of Terror 2023, celebrating those 40 years of death metal, and has brought along a stacked lineup with support from Revocation, Skeletal Remains, and Crypta.

A long line of locals waited to enter the infamous Brick by Brick, which has hosted thousands of shows over the years. The small, intimate venue remains a favorite of fans and bands alike as they truly care about the music community.
Crypta had been delayed, so fans were able to catch a glimpse of them as the ladies from Brazil walked into the venue. They were greeted by cheers from the fans in line, and security allowed the eager early birds in to catch the sound check; highly unusual and rare to witness.

Once it came time for the actual performance, sounds of water dripping emanated from the PA system, an old, rusty door creaking, and scary, ominous horror sounds played in the background. The familiar sounds were from Crypta’s “Awakening,” the intro track to their album, “Echoes of the Soul.” The fiery ladies made their way to the stage – with lead vocalist and bassist Fernanda Lira’s tongue hanging out like her idol from KISS – and jumped right into the heart pounding “Death Arcana.”

Although summer festivals in Europe are whole different vibe, the band said, “San Diego, we love club gigs because we are all about the stage performance and being so close to you people makes us feel like we are making a closer connection while looking at you in the eyes, and you can’t do that at a large festival.” The group ended their 30-minute set with “From the Ashes,” the first single they ever released, and the super-fast thriller set the vibe for the rest of the night.
Up next was the mysterious SoCal mates known for their massive amounts of underground, collectable merchandise – Skeletal Remains. With the noise of symphonic sci-fi synthesizers playing, and the house lights so low it was almost pitch black, the esoteric band opened with the skull-crushing “Illusive Divinity” from “The Entombment of Chaos.”

The opposite of Crypta’s stage performance, the lights never fully came up as Skeletal Remains thrashed for a solid 30 minutes straight in the dark, almost never taking a break. It was all about the feeling inside as the audience lost themselves in the dark, head banging to their black hearts’ content. With the hair on my skin standing on end in the dark, Skeletal Remains ended their set with “Congregation of Flesh.”

After the show, I had a chance to chat with Skeletal Remains and asked if they enjoyed playing in the dark. Lead singer and guitarist Chris Monroy replied with, “Yeah man, I like to do a lot of things in the dark… That sounded wrong and not my intention.” The whole band and I erupted in a big laugh together.
As Revocation prepared the stage for their set, Phil Collins was playing in the background, which ended up being an ongoing joke throughout the night. After a quick instrument check, with a smile on his face, lead singer and guitarist Dave Davidson said, “Hi, we are a Phil Collins cover band and this is a B-side song you don’t hear often,” as Revocation kicked off with “Godforsaken” and “Diabolical Majesty” off their 2022 album, “Neverheaven.” Drummer Ash Pearson also gave us a Frank Zappa cover tease of “The Black Page #1.”

Halfway through the 45 minutes of pure mayhem, the group took a moment for their fallen friend from The Black Dahlia Murder: “This one goes out to Trevor Strnad. This song is called ‘Re-Crucified.’” Toward the end, Davidson said, “You guys kick so much ass. We have two more songs. Death metal is alive and well in San Diego! Give it up for Crypta and Skeletal Remains! Give it up for Morbid Angel! And give it up for Phil Collins one more time!” As they played “Madness Opus” and then closed with “Of Unworldly Origin,” it led to a huge circle pit with Slayer’s “South of Heaven” and Cannibal Corpse’s “Hammer Smashed Face” outro teases.

It was finally time for our founding fathers of death metal to pound the pavement and bring it to life on stage – the one and only Morbid Angel. The lights turned up and the fans went crazy, screaming with their metal fists pumping in the air to the double-kick thumping of Scott Fuller’s feet to “Piles of Little Arms.” With no hesitation, these masters of extreme heavy metal went straight into “D.E.A.D” and “Garden Disdain.”

Bassist and growler Steve Tucker took a breather to address the audience: “How you doing this fine evening San Diego? Thanks for making me sweat. I love dirty sweat!” After Morbid Angel played “Praise the Strength” and “Abominations,” the pioneers of death metal said, “You like the old school yeah? This is ‘Day of Suffering’” and a huge circle pit broke out.

Founding member Trey Azagthoth had an unbelievable two-minute solo during “Summoning Redemption,” showing off his complex and intricate acrobatic finger work on the guitar. Simply stunning, second to none, he makes it look far too easy with his effortless shredding.

Ending the night with “God of Emptiness,” Morbid Angel had given us a spellbinding hour-and-a-half show. Having not toured since 2019 because of the pandemic, Morbid Angel never skipped a beat as they celebrated 40 years of heavy metal with their loyal fans at Brick by Brick in San Diego.


by Chris Hazel Photography