I am getting the hang of doing these Necrospectives (which is a feature I actually contemplated for a long time). This time I am up with a very long list of albums by a fundamental band from my first steps into the world of Death Metal and Grindcore. My views on the subject are quite atypical so I can imagine I’ll have several complaints about the ratings ah, ah. How funny to have a blog about records where you can write anything you wish.
pre-Deicide (Amon 1.0)
Amon, or Aamon, is a great and mightie marques, and commeth abroad in the likenes of a woolfe, having a serpents taile, <spetting out and breathing> [vomiting] flames of fier; when he putteth on the shape of a man, he sheweth out dogs teeth, and a great head like to a mightie <raven> [night hawk]; he is the strongest prince of all other, and understandeth of all things past and to come, he procureth favor, and reconcileth both freends and foes, and ruleth fourtie legions of divels.
– Johann Weyer, De praestigiis daemonum (1577)
I will be honest here, I don’t remember having heard of Deicide before their self-titled full-length when the name exploded with all its bombastic tongue-in-cheek Satanic propaganda. I only managed to hear the stuff from these two demos a hanful of years later when Roadrunner released the “Amon” compilation (I also have a funny story to tell about going to the Vatican with a longsleeve from that record back in 1993, eh). These recordings however, are SO full of malevolent energy I can’t even properly describe their impact. They certainly have a more Slayerish flow and a somehow thinner sound, but at the same time the vocals are much more malicious. What is lacking in the sheer brutality that is/was the leitmotif of Deicide is replaced by sheer atmosphere, the almost serpentine gargling whispering words of blasphemy immersed in an environment of pops and crackling typical of the old analog media. There is a lot of hidden black energy in these recordings, which places them in my humble opinion on the same, maybe slightly better, position as the debut.
All the previous Amon tracks have been re-recorded for this debut, with a completely different sound. The crepitating, slithering evilness of the earlier recordings have mutated here in a work maybe less evocative, but definitely of greater impact. The sound is still very dark, especially considered the year in which this album was recorded. At the time Deicide was one of the very few bands widely known beyond the small circle of people with a decent knowledge of underground music currents (that sounds like a million years ago), not just for the gimmicks of using decomposed meat and blood on stage and all the shit about Benton branding an inverted cross on his forehead or alleged suicide at 33, but also for their unique sound that included among the fastest double bass drum in the world. Certainly one could argue about that today, but it was all that people not listening to this music knew: I had some friends into “other scenes” asking for recordings of this album for years. I remember being quite perplexed about the comic book used on the album sleeve, where this monk is being turtured by demons, it just felt so out of place, but taken as a whole the layout was rather effective, front cover sigil and all (wished they stayed on this path anyway).
Deicide was definitely a sensation from day one: massive, fast, no-nonsense. The lyrics on this album are still not very definite, but effective for the aural butchery that is the record. I would say it’s an all time masterpiece, if it had not the unluck of preceding “Legion”.
Deicide was a very big blast in the underground in my city as well as all in a sudden I was surrounded by a very dedicated core fandom. I can certainly relate to that: they were killer. It was also one of my first Death Metal gigs ever when they toured with Gorefest in 1992 (my first show was probably Carcass in Rome in 1990 which, strangely enough, also featured Atrocity) and the first time I was realizing that Death Metal was assuming a constant presence in my country as well. Concerts at last were not just anymore attended by drunkards and punks. Then one day I just stepped in the local metal shop and bought this vinyl record. I still vividly remember the horror of seeing the sleeve being chewed by my dog which at the time was a puppy when I was having dinner but placing this album on the record player for the first time was life changing and had me forget everythung – just the same emotion I had the first time I spinned “Reign In Blood”. I knew Deicide already, but this was something entirely different. This was HELL – accurately described in detail and carved in the bones of saints, a masterpiece built on the heads of decapitated holy men. Unholy fucking shit, this album is so razor sharp, obscure and devastating there is no reason why anybody should not own it. It is one of the 5 best Death Metal records of all time, period. Sooooo incredibly inspired. The lyrics are a mix of Satanism and occult lore, free of that shitty tongue in cheek humour of the following records. This record is absolute perfection: it manages to create an immensely powerful evocative picture of an infinite massacre, a land without god where inconocalsm has crushed every single spark of life. I have no words, really, to describe how immensely amazing this album is. It is EVIL incarnate, distilled ona record. La Fin Absolue du Monde made music.
Vote: 10/10, absolute Masterpiece
Once Upon The Cross, 1995
By the time this record was released, I already perceived some cracks in the freshness and energy of the whole Death Metal movement. Mostly all the big bands of the time had released either mediocre or outright ludicrous albums so my expectation for this new Deicide album were high. But with a grain of salt firmly in my grasp. I started to notice something out of place when I started seeing boys in my school buying Sepultura merchandise and I mean, typically average guys all in a sudden were asking me about Mayhem and Cannibal Corpse, my bullshit detector was very high at the time and this time it was itching terribly. Nothing could have prepared me with the complete delusion that was this album, however. Where the fuck were the dark blades of sound ripping through the flesh of my ears. Where was the eerie gurgling of blood dripping from Benton’s vocals? Why the fuck did they have a comic book Jesus on the cover? What were those ridicolous song names? What the fuck was wrong with the vocals here, and more that everything else, when does the album START? Hearing this shit was more or less like going through a torture of increasing disappointment. By the time I heard “When Satan Rules His World” which is a song you can basically dance at at the prom, I understood the band was completely lost. The line up was the same but the songs were just plain tarantellas with heavy distortion. No punch, no in-your-face brutality, just happy dance songs for the brainless college monkeys like the subhumans in my school. When these “regular guys” came to me asking if I heard this fantastic album, hoping they could enter my circle of friendship I understood Death Metal lost another big piece on the way.
Vote: 3/10 (could be 5/10 if it was not released after “Legion”)
Serpents Of The Light, 1997
By the time this album was released I was pretty much disillusioned and definitely done with Deicide, the sound of the tammuriata at the shore of the gulf of Naples still haunting my sleep. Despite my abysmal expectations, I nevertheless found this album more than decent. The deicide-style song structures are on this album completely turned upside-down. The sound is still powerful but there is an added share of speed: instead of going back to their old sound they preferred to walk a much more typical path but the overall product was OK in my book. Sure the solos are not product of the schizoid rapture of their first two albums, and the consolidated American “chliché” sound was way more definite here but, despite not being as original as before, I dug this album pretty much. It’s fast, it has a couple of very powerful choruses and, while it has still ridicolous lyrics somehow I don’t find them as cheesy as the one before. The cover art is so ugly it challenges Morbid Angel of this period, really what the fuck was going on in their mind when they designed it is beyond me.
Things changed once again here, taking a simplified, sometimes almost minimalist take. My problem with this album is that you can’t be pushy if you rely on sound compression to create powerful music. If you try to play this stuff on shitty gear you get basically nothing in your hand. Mixing in slow, measured riffs technically might have added some extra punch to the album, especially after the super fast “Serpents” before, but I don’t know, Deicide’s major leverage is certainly not in the quality of the single riff. They’re no Incantation nor Asphyx, and when you chop down a monolithic in your face sound like theirs in such a way the result is definitely not particularly exciting, and certainly not inspired. I haven’t even bought this album, Deicide being more or less a closed chapter for me, especially after the following one.
The nicer thing about this album is probably the cover art, for once a little classy, following the dictations of this more austere approach.
In Torment In Hell, 2001
Derivative and uninspired are certainly the first words that come up when looking for adjectives for this album, which follows the lines of the preceding one but trying nonsensically to reheat some of the older shit. This idea isn’t particularly hidden either, considering the cover art is a mix of all the previous album covers. Unluckily not always mixing good ingredients you get the sum of all parts. Music, like cuisine, is a matter of good taste, balance, daring end enthusiasm, all four elements completely missing here. Last time I heard this album was the week it was released, and I am not giving it a new listen to refresh my memory on some lossless sound clips I deservedly downloaded illegally. Fuck it, you don’t really want me to actually PAY for this stuff? My memories were pretty much accurate however, no real juice to be squeezed from this dead body. The only thing I appreciated is the solos are quite decent as are some of the riffs, but arranged in this way you don’t really get much. I am not sure I remember correctly, but I read somewhere that the band itself pretty much sneered at this album too, since it was just a rushed up (1 mere year is actually little for songwriting unless you’re Motorhead) attempt at wrestling out of Roadrunner for which they had a contract to fulfill. In any case, let’s just skip this album, it’s not worth much.
Scars Of The Crucifix, 2004
I reviewed this album before with a little added enthusiasm 10 years ago now (ah, being young ah ah). In any case I still believe this album was a good come back, especially after the failure of the amazingly generic last one. This is an album that I got as a promo from Earache back then, so I managed to listen to it on a normal medium, ah. It’s a rather good comeback in my opinion, finally balanced and spot on. Hoffman/1 has learned to write good solos but has the taste to cut them short and leave his brother Hoffman/2 lead the way the classic Deicide way; pummeling, chugging, crushing without remorse. All the arrangements on this album sounds just very right in my book, the vocals are in perfect shape and there is a good load of good old screams adding a layer of malignancy not present since maybe the Amon days (“Legion” is an album that stands on its own). The cover art is also finally something work taking some minutes having a look at. All in all, I deemed this album quite fine, probably the best of their second life.
The Stench Of Redemption, 2006
In 2006 Earache sent me the promo for this one as well which I listened to almost entirely on my car stereo complete with those unpleasant anti-piracy interruptions and obviously missing lyrics and complete packaging. I think that “The Stench Of Redemption” is potentially a very good album too for Deicide 2.0, the only thing I find completely out of place are these over the top solos, completely out of place in this mix of crushing brutality, possibly just there for the ego of Santolla. Who cares for this shit is beyond me, I never saw any overlapping between power metal and Death Metal. Yet Deicide’s new guitarists succeeded in evolving the sound of the band that lead us to a new territory and it somehow works out quite decently. I really do like the way the rhythm guitar throws in the mix an incredibly varied plethora of experiences, still managing to fill every second with layers over layers of sound and, thanks to a monstrous drumwork, leaves no time for breath. Mature in an unpredictable way, I found this album ripe and juicy, with just too much sugar on the lead solos.
Til Death Do Us Part, 2008
I caught up with the latest 3 Deicide album just recently after a long pause of complete disconnection from their works (and well, many other bands as well), preferring more obscure, less promoted releases. What I think of this album is that this is possibly a second try at Insineratehymn (meaning a more thoughtful, slower, more evocative version of Deicide) that this time fell short for the opposite reasons. While the previous two albums were complex in a ceremonious but still orchestrally balanced way, I can’t really find any convincing connective tissue between the songs on this album. Shaking off my eyes the horrendous embossed effect on the logo (which might be forgiven to the band members, but not to the graphical dept of Earache) is difficult, but swallowing the whole plate has been even harder. It’s like a French dish, apparently good but relying most of its taste to butter and fat. You can’t really make a good album throwing all the shit that your creative skill brings up to your mind, some songs really sounds like they’ve been sewed together with thick twine. All in all however, I can’t say it’s totally shit either, just some album that can’t probably pass the test of time.
To Hell With God, 2011
Could be the somewhat insipid, bland sound but this albums is lacking completely one of the old trademark Deicide aspects: darkness. Even when blasting full force the band always managed to sit in the gloom of Satan’s ever reaching hand. Not here, at least from the way I am perceiving this shit. Even he screams that once added a level of enraptured folly don’t really make it, and some riffs (hear the song “Conviction”) are just plain boring old stuff. After such a a marathon, going through the whole band discography, I might be a little exhausted but this stuff just doesn’t click. The formula is more or less the same of the one before, but this album sounds incredibly prosaic and useless, not just unrefined. The cover (oh my, the embossing) is good stuff, not so the music within.
In The Minds Of Evil, 2013
All the previous intricacies have been unraveled on this album. Deicide this time chose to play fair showing everything that is going on in their songwriting all across this album, getting rid of choruses and screams among many other refinements. The main problem is that under the hood there seems to be very little left. This album sounds totally routine to me, sometimes the levels of dullness and horrible chugging of “Once Upon The Cross”. I never heard Deicide to utterly flavorless. Not a bad album if it was a teenager demo. For a Deicide album however, the curtains seem to have been pulled close once again. I gave them for dead more than once however, so who know what are they going to show us next time.
That is all. It’s been a nice trip, if completely exhausting. I perfectly know many of you are going to be offended by these reviews, but go ahead and make your won blog, ah ah! In any case I enjoyed writing this. If you have a band that you’d like to get covered in a similar manner let me know. I basically NEVER review stuff that I don’t have in physical format, but I am prone to do it for these biographies for very shitty albums.