DEICIDE - To Hell With God
February 24, 2011, 8 years ago
Those of our parents' generation would likely tell you that they remember exactly where they were when they heard the news that Jim Morrison had died, or precisely what they were doing when John Lennon had been shot and killed. In stark contrast to this, I remember vividly the day I was first introduced to Floridian death metal legends Deicide. The year was 1990. I can recall the day being incredibly hot and muggy, even for August. We were returning home from a family shopping trip across the border, where the air was thick and hazy, rife with the overwhelming stench of pollution wafting in from Detroit. It was somewhere along Interstate 94 in Southeast Michigan that I decided to delve into one of the many cassettes purchased from that day's haul a at metal only record store in Detroit. The album that caught my attention was Deicide's self-titled debut (the most aesthetically pleasing of the bunch with its simple yet striking cover art and logo). Now, it is worth noting that, previous to this trip, the heaviest album I owned was Testament's The New Order. So, as one with no prior experience with this genre of metal could imagine, I remember all at once being completely horrified and utterly transfixed by the audio rape emanating forth from the headphones of my walkman. I can quite honestly say that I was truly frightened by the sounds created by Glen Benton and company. Suffice it to say, I spent the rest of the trip home listening to the album over and over again, a routine practiced consistently in the twenty-one years since that fateful day. With such an overwhelming emotional attachment to the aforementioned album, it comes as no surprise that each successive Deicide album has failed to capture me in the same way. Don't get me wrong, there have been some amazing contenders, particularly in sophomore effort Legion, and it's follow-up entitled Once Upon The Cross; and lest we forget last decade's incredible The Stench Of Redemption (the first album to see the massive shredding duo of Owen/Santolla, replacing the ousted Hoffman brothers). In the same period of time we have also been some less than stellar albums. The most notable of these transgressions being 2008's Till Death Do Us Part (though, in fairness, this album seemed more like a sacrificial offering to rid themselves of their deal with Earache Records). Which brings us to the band's tenth, and most recent, album predictably entitled To Hell With God. Now, where The Stench Of Redemption was a fresh, irreverent take on a formula that had long since become stale and antiquated, the newest platter really hasn't evolved so much as it's amplified by its own stereotypes, building itself into a juggernaut of cannibalistic pastiche, all the while borrowing from everything that made the former such a great album, yet bewilderingly devoid of the same allure. All the right elements are set in place - Benton's vehement vocal tirades, blistering leads and melodic trade-offs, Asheim's whirlwind of infernal battering - culminating in a near epic-length bible-bashing repository. Honestly, it's tough to say what it is about To Hell With God that fails to miss the mark, but I have a suspicion that it all comes down to the timing of said releases. The Stench Of Redemption was released at a time when fans were salivating for something new. With the addition of Ralph Santolla and Jack Owen Deicide were filled with a vigor and tenacity not seen since the early days. Yes, To Hell With God is a phenomenally better album than its predecessor, but it lacks those magical moments à la 'Homage For Satan', 'Death To Jesus' and 'Never To Be Seen Again'. The closest they come is with album closer 'How Can You Call Yourself A God', which easily sits up there with the some of the best work the band has ever done. In closing, don't let this review fool you, as To Hell With God is certainly worthy of your attention, however short lived that may be.