Metal Church - The Present Wasteland

Deicide are one hell of a confusing and unpredictable band! Just as we all thought that a new era has started following the release of the quite impressive “Scars Of the Crucifix” (2004), the Hoffman brothers decide to leave the band due to issues that would take more than the length of this review to explain. Then, legendary axeman Jack Owen joins the fold and, together with guitar wizard Ralph Santolla, help bring to life two albums of extraordinary quality, namely “The Stench Of Redemption” (2006) and “Till Death Do Us Part” (2008), so all is well with the band, right? Well, not quite! Santolla leaved Deicide in 2007 an joins Obituary, while on July the same year Jack Owen informed us that Deicide were on hiatus while during an interview with drummer Steve Asheim I was left to believe that I may never hold a new Deicide album in my hand again! Thankfully that has not proven to be the case as, following a record deal with Century Media records and having received Ralph Santolla back in their ranks, Deicide are about to release their tenth studio album, entitled “To Hell With God”.

Deicide’s 2008 opus “Till Death Do Us Part” was described as “the most savage and aggressive to date” in the press release that accompanied the promo copy that fell into my hands, and the truth was that, without a shadow of a doubt, it met those expectations. What I was dying to find out was whether “To Hell With God” was to follow a similar direction or present us with something different. Having a drummer like Steve Asheim in the band, a guy that is literally ‘trigger happy’, means that you are always guaranteed a fair amount of double-bass and blast beat rhythms in your compositions and that is certainly the case here, proof being that the duration of the album does not exceed the thirty five minute barrier. What I really loved about this album, however, apart from its meaty and quite powerful production, is the incorporation of both top quality lead solos and catchy choruses. It is that very successful incorporation which enabled each of the ten compositions on offer to have an immediate impact on the listener and also become really memorable after only a couple of spins.

I personally cannot think of a better way to start this album than with the four and a half minute same-titled “To Hell With God” – a composition whose bombastic drum intro blends perfectly with a catchy, sing along chorus and Ralph Santolla’s virtuoso solos. “Save Your” is another fast belter based on simple riffs and flamboyant solos that is enjoyable but not half as good as “Witness of Death” – a three minute track based on Jack Owen’s trademark rhythmical guitar parts. It is at this point in the album that the listener will be introduced to two real Death Metal gems, “Conviction” and “Empowered By Blasphemy” – the former moving to a mid tempo rhythmical pattern and totally dependent on Glen Benton’s multi-layered vocals for impression, whereas the latter contains an array of flamboyant guitar solos of the utmost quality. In “Angels Of Hell” we have a composition whose main riff bares some influence from the mighty Exodus, whereas “Hang In Agony Until You’re Dead” and “Servant Of The Enemy” are also capable of straining a few necks with their head banging riffs. Fans of Benton’s evil vocals will rejoice in “Into The Darkness You Go” and all fans of extreme Metal ought to be amazed by “How Can You Call Yourself God” – a song that is so cleverly crafted that it should be recognised as one of the best compositions ever created by this band.

Deicide is a band that both loves a good challenge and truly thrives when under pressure! I mean let’s face it – any other band that had experienced half the obstacles that this Tampa-based quartet has faced over its twenty three year career would have called it a day a long, long time ago, right? When faced with the departure of some of half of their line-up, what did the duo Benton/Asheim do? After slowly licking their wounds, they regrouped, signed a new record deal with a well-established label and simply recorded one of the best albums of their career! Guys and girls, I really don’t know what else to say other than that you really need to get your hands on this album – you will really regret it if you don’t!

John Stefanis

Rating: ****1/2 (4.5/5.0)

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Power Plays w/c 10 January (Mon-Fri)
SMOKING MARTHA Wild & Free (Xelon Entertainment)
TRUE NORTH Fix (Out Of Line Music)
COLLECTED Say When (indie)
ABOUT KINGS Heaven On Down The Highway (indie)
WHALEDOG Leave Me Alone (indie)
LED BY LANTERNS Six Feet Down (indie)
KROOKED TONGUE Freaky Love (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 10 January (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 BITE THE BULLET End Of The Line (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 CRYSTAL BALL Crysteria (Massacre Records)
14:00-16:00 SEAN TAYLOR The Beat Goes On (indie)

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