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Deicide (1990)
 

Deicide formed in 1987, then known as Amon. After recording a couple demos, they were signed by Roadrunner Records. The band was encouraged to change their name, since Amon was the name of the house on the King Diamond album "Them". By early 1990, Deicide entered Morrisound to record their debut L.P.

I discovered this band back in high school, after the release of Once Upon the Cross. The title track from that album was enough to get me interested in the band but, as usual, I chose to start from the beginning. Within a week or so, I went out and purchased the first one, instead. At that point, Hell Awaits was the most evil album that I possessed, so this didn't have a lot of competition. Religion was never pushed on me as I grew up. I was aware of Christianity, but it wasn't anything I really put much thought into. In the couple years before I got this album, I had really started to think about it and to analyze the effects that the great Judeo-Christian lie had on the world around me. Within no time, after finally taking a look at this filth, I was filled with utter hatred for it. During this period, bands like Slayer and Deicide did well to echo the harsh sentiment that I held for this feeble system of beliefs.

The album begins with what sounds like the gates of Hell opening and pure evil bursting forth. Thrash riffs and mid-paced double bass lead into faster, more typical Death Metal on "Lunatic of God's Creation". This song would appear to have something to do with Charles Manson. Glen Benton's demonic vocals stand out, here. The style that he utilized on this L.P. is far superior to the 'ultra brutal', too-deep-to-understand nonsense that he spews these days.

"Sacrificial Suicide" features more hateful and unholy vocals, as well as some catchy and memorable sections that remain in your brain. The guitar tone is pretty standard for Morrisound, sadly, dulling the edge to an extent. The sound is pretty similar to other albums recorded there, around the same time, such as Harmony Corruption. Some of the faster parts of the album are found on this song.

One may wonder what sub-genre that Deicide belongs to. By the old 80s definitions, the Satanic lyrical themes would make this Black Metal, without question. Of course, stylistically, the band fits in with the rest of the Florida Death Metal scene. Despite disliking them, even those in the Norwegian scene labeled them as 'commercial Black Metal'. To make things even more difficult, this album was released before bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone really set the standard for what the Second Wave of Black Metal was to sound like. Listening to the catchy thrash riffs of "Oblivious To Evil", it is difficult to really call this Black Metal, so it is best to simply leave this to each individual to decide on their own, if there is a need to categorize the record. Either way, it is Satanic, hateful and anti-Christian and that is all that matters.

Next up is, probably, the best known song by the band; "Dead By Dawn". Inspired by The Evil Dead, this song rages forth with intensity from the very beginning. The wicked solo, early on, is very reminiscent of Slayer. The drumming is very accurate and the guitars are well played, but the vocals really make this. The layering and demonic effects really do a lot to add to the Hellish atmosphere, even if it possesses more of a horror movie feeling, rather than a nocturnal ritual.

"Blaspherereion" is a bit faster than the previous songs, which is a welcome thing. Despite the fact that Deicide became a caricature of themselves, later on, the self-titled debut features many well-crafted songs. Enough cannot be said of Benton's possessed screams. He displays a great deal of force and variation. Everything is executed more than adequately, from the vocals to the musicianship.

The song "Deicide" begins with an epic build-up from the Hoffman brothers. It may seem strange to use such a word regarding an album which doesn't feature a single song near the four and a half minute mark, but this certainly describes the feeling created in the opening moments of this song. Despite the bland Scott Burns production job, the songs still manage to grab the listener by the throat and pull them into Hell.

"Carnage in the Temple of the Damned" was inspired by cult-leader Jim Jones. The intro is very interesting. Musically, this song displays less of the band's Thrash Metal roots than many of the other songs. None of the songs on Deicide overstay their welcome. They progress toward their logical conclusion in a timely manner and end before becoming repetitive.

The album continues with "Mephistopheles", which begins at full speed. A short time later, mid-paced thrash riffs and relentless double bass drumming dominate the song for a while. The layered, demonic vocals and Hellish lead solos come together to create a very unholy atmosphere, though the song is much like the rest on the album; catchy and memorable.

Deicide was never as inspired and filled with creative energy as they were when they created this album. "Day of Darkness" begins with several indecipherable screams of burning agony. As with the rest of the songs, this one wastes no time in accomplishing what it set out to do, doing a decent job of leading into the final song.

This classic debut album concludes with one of the best songs that the band recorded; "Crucifixation". A brief, thrashy intro builds up to somewhat of an epic section that features Slayer-esque soloing and a brilliant vocal delivery by Glen Benton. The lyrics are so utterly Satanic that one cannot help but appreciate it in the same manner as a good 70s or 80s horror movie. Once the song gets going, it maintains a pretty furious pace throughout. This is the most straight-forward and evil-sounding song on the album, and a perfect way to bring things to an end. Words simply don't do it justice. As the song finishes, the gates slam shut, once more, containing the evil for the time being.

Regardless of Benton's foolish statements or the band's rapid deterioration, after this, Deicide's self-titled L.P. is a classic slab of Satanic Death Metal and is worthy of the praise that it has received over the years. If you only listen to one album by this band, it should be this one. This release is not only important for establishing this band, but it had a strong influence on other Satanic Death Metal bands that came later, such as Hypocrisy and Necrophobic.
 
(12 Mar. 2009)

 
 

Not too long after acquiring Deicide's self-titled debut album, I found myself eager for more of the same and ended up returning to the record store and buying Legion, their sophomore effort. It seems that a lot of people had difficulty adjusting to this offering, as it was far more technical than their first album; however, I seemed to appreciate it with no problem. At the time, I liked the intense and brutal approach, though the primary attraction came from the blasphemous and Satanic sentiment that was present in each track. At the time, I was finishing the process of killing any expectations that certain relatives had, regarding religion, and bands like Deicide and Slayer helped in some odd way. After burning a bible that was given as an insulting Christmas gift, Legion was among the albums that filled the rest of the night as I 'cleansed' myself of even having to touch such filth.

Released in June 1992 on Roadrunner Records, this album represented somewhat of a departure from the style present on their first L.P. The songwriting is much more complex, to a degree, though the truth is that it is still as simplistic as ever, in other ways. The music is much more percussive than on the first record, resulting in the drumming becoming as prominent (if not moreso) than the guitar riffs. While the Hoffman brothers unleash several fast riffs, the drums rarely follow along at top speed; rather, Asheim spends more time playing around with the double bass. In fact, blast beats are found few and far in-between. This can be frustrating for listeners that continue waiting for the band to pick up the tempo. The guitar riffs rarely ever get an opportunity to stand on their own, as there is never a moment where the double bass is not filling up space where it really is not necessary. "In Hell I Burn" may be the most enjoyable song on here, since things actually speed up during the verses. As well, "Revocate the Agitator" maintains a fairly fast pace, though it is not entirely bereft of the more useless passages. The lead solos are very short and seem to be tossed in out of obligation, rather than to add anything to the songs, taking an influence from Reign in Blood. There are evil riffs, here and there, such as in "Repent to Die", but the potential is totally wasted. One can still tell that it is the same band, for whatever that is worth. The vocals represent another problem, as Benton opted to utilize a much lower pitch than before, killing off one of the best elements of Deicide's sound. He still employs the higher-pitched growls for the over-dubbed parts, but it is not quite the same. His voice sounded much more evil in the past, while his sound on Legion is more akin to that of an angry bear. Many of the vocal patterns are too catchy, like "Dead But Dreaming" and "Holy Deception".

The production is a source of complaint, as well. This sounds far too modern and clean, which matches the cover art, quite well. The percussion is way too high in the mix, though that may be somewhat necessary due to the poor songwriting that makes the drumming such an integral part of the music, instead of focusing on the guitar riffs. The overall tone of Legion is much less serious than the band was striving for, partially due to the bass and drums being so loud, which creates an almost comical effect. The guitars never stand out enough to really make much of an impact, which is as much of a flaw of the production as it is of the songwriting.

Legion is an average album. It is not terrible, but it really is a good example of how Death Metal was transforming, at the time. Already in 1992, bands were moving away from the dark atmosphere and guitar-driven material and opting for a brutal and modern sound, deep vocals and overpowering percussion. If you are into Satanic Death Metal in the vein of the early albums from Hypocrisy and Necrophobic, this should suit you.
 
(13 Dec. 2011)

 
 

Once Upon the Cross is the third full-length album from Deicide, and displays a certain amount of regression in musical style. Released in early 1995, this is the sort of record that works well as an introduction to Death Metal, due to its accessible nature. Though not an awful release, this record marks the beginning of Deicide's decline and the point where the band became a caricature of itself.

The material is very average and boring, at times. None of the riffs possess even the slightest hint of evil or darkness, a far cry from the band's self-titled debut. The songwriting is very simplistic, when compared to Legion, and some have intimated that the change in direction came as a result of the previous album being too much for many listeners to wrap their brains around. That does not seem too likely, since their sophomore effort was not as complex as some believe. Whatever the reason was, Once Upon the Cross would appear to revert back to the band's original path, yet it would be unfair to put this anywhere near the first record. For one, the music rarely ever moves at a decent pace; everything seems to drag a bit. There is no intensity to the playing. So, without any energetic feeling or dark atmosphere, the only thing that prevents this album from being completely ignored is the fact that it is rather catchy. That is not a quality that is really desired within Death Metal, but it is safe to say that is the main reason why people continue to listen to this. It is very rhythmic and the vocal patterns are easy to digest as they follow along with the main riffs, more often than not. Benton's style is even deeper than before and it is at this point where he really begins to lose his identity and to sound like most other generic Death Metal vocalists.

The lyrics are, of course, concerned with Satanic and anti-Christian themes. Naturally, it would not be Deicide without a great deal of disdain shown for Judeo-Christian mythology, which ties in well with the cover art that depicts a bloodstained sheet over a disemboweled Christ. The band's lyrics were never all that intelligent or articulate, yet something about Once Upon the Cross comes off as less serious. The thing is, as long as the song titles are more creative than "Kill the Christian", the actual content would matter a little less. I would be lying if I said this was not all sort of appealing as a fifteen-year old, when this first came out, but it wore thin quite quickly.

As for the production, it sort of matches the lethargic pace of the music. The guitar tone is thicker and goes along well with the beefed up bass and drum sound, along with the deeper vocals, in creating a dense and heavy sound. Everything is a little too polished and this does not help the album out, much. Still, with the simplistic riffs and the catchy choruses, even the most underground production could not have salvaged this record.

Once Upon the Cross is not the worst that Deicide has ever offered up, but it is less interesting than those that preceded it and the one that followed. Most Deicide fans will probably approve of this, and it serves well as the type of album that one would use to ease someone into Death Metal. That said, it really lacks in quality and is quite laughable when compared to the band's first L.P.
 
(23 Dec. 2011)

 
 

By 1997, it was quite evident that Glen Benton was very serious about serving the will of his evil master. The only thing was that his master was not Satan, but the almighty dollar. Deicide's fourth full-length album, Serpents of the Light, was released in October of that year and was even more accessible than their previous effort. This, combined with the fact that they embraced the Black Metal trend that was hitting American shores that year, and it was very clear that the band was merely a vehicle for the four members to line their pockets, instead of possessing any true desire to spread the message of Hell.

Such an assertion is backed up by the poor songwriting. Now, in many ways, this is more enjoyable than Once Upon the Cross. The overall pace is faster, though the music is not lacking in the memorable groove parts. It still has a rhythmic feel, very much driven by the percussion and vocal patterns that follow closely along. While there are certainly more fast riffs than on the last record, none of them really have a feeling of darkness or evil. Deicide never had much in common with the early Death Metal bands, so it is not as if they lost that type of atmosphere. However, at least on their first album there was an aura of evil. Serpents of the Light is somewhat gloomy, but that is about it. Some of this may be due to the droning riffs and the melodic lead solos that do their best to give some kind of life to the songs. The vocals are even more boring than before, getting deeper and more generic. Furthermore, the vocal patterns are fairly uniform, throughout the whole album. The lyrics are basically interchangeable, in structure and content.

Speaking of the lyrics, it seems that there was some sort of shift this time around. Most of the songs carry a strong anti-Christian sentiment, which is expected. However, there really is nothing Satanic about this. The whole approach is more reality-based and ends up coming across rather tame, especially compared to a song such as "When Satan Rules His World", which was on the last L.P. There is one track that sticks out, which deals with things from a different perspective. "The Truth Above" deals with the topic of mankind coming from aliens, maybe because the band spent a little time listening to Hypocrisy's The Fourth Dimension or Abducted. It does show a little development in lyrical themes, and ends up being on of the most interesting songs, musically, as well.

The production is the main point of different between Serpents of the Light and Once Upon the Cross. While the latter was boring and typical, resulting in a flat and uninspired sound, the former appears to take some influence from Black Metal, which was becoming popular in the states around the time this album was being worked on. The guitar tone is thinner and has a sharp sound instead of the blunt tone from the previous record. Everything is more crisp, though the vocals really sound out of place with this sort of production. It would have made more sense for Benton to return to his earlier style, emphasizing the higher-pitched parts and leaving the deeper stuff for other bands.

Serpents of the Light is the last Deicide album worth bothering with. Really, the first one is the only one that is essential, while the three that follow are merely for those that need a bit more from the band. This was the final release to have any real continuity, before the guys kept trying to reinvent themselves or figure out how to recapture what they lost many years earlier. This is not really recommended as, by this point, the band's act had grown stale and watered-down.
 
(26 Dec. 2011)

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