Monday, January 6, 2014


Previously known as: Amon

Deicide - Serpents of the Light
Roadrunner Records, 1997
Genre: Death Metal

1. Serpents of the Light
2. Bastard of Christ
3. Blame it on God
4. This is Hell We're In
5. I am No One
6. Slave to the Cross
7. Creatures of Habit
8. Believe the Lie
9. The Truth Above
10. Father Baker's

Here it is, Deicide's final release... at least as far as I'm concerned. I've listened to many of the later Deicide releases and they just don't have the same level of attack their earlier works had. This is also the last Deicide album I would ever buy. I tried them again after the Hoffman brothers left the band, because many people insisted "they were back"... no they weren't. So rather than listen to a lot of mediocre music and writing a lot of mediocre reviews, I'm going to end my Deicide discography here.

Given how much I enjoyed "Once Upon the Cross", I remember buying this with some reservations because once you peak as a band there's usually no reclaiming that and I was afraid they did. In some respects you could claim that was true, because "Serpent's of the Light" may as well be titled "Once Upon the Cross (Part II)" or something to that effect. I remember when I purchased this I was mildly disappointed due to how similar the album sounded, but over the years I've become much more appreciative of that fact. I'm elated that Deicide had one more album like this in them before they would just get stuck in a writing rut of mediocrity (many critics seem to agree on that level at least). There are very few times that this level of catchiness and viciousness would play into the band again, which is quite sad. Given how short Deicide albums are, I actually listen to this back to back with "Once Upon the Cross" so it actual feels like I have a normal length album!

Deicide leave us with a very stellar legacy, in my opinion. I've seen some critics say they lost something after "Legion," and that may be partly true, but they did give us two more albums of very solid Death Metal. I, honestly, loved both styles Deicide gave to us in only the way they could. I feel all these early releases have a certain timeless quality and many bands continue to try and emulate this sound.

Deicide - Once Upon the Cross
Roadrunner Records, 1995
Genre: Death Metal

1. Once Upon the Cross
2. Christ Denied
3. When Satan Rules his World
4. Kill the Christians
5. Trick or Betrayed
6. They are the Children of the Underworld
7. Behind the Light Thou Shall Rise
8. To Be Dead
9. Confessional Rape

Deicide's brand of "intense" anti-Christianity returns with a far more polished brand of their music. I remember when this came out and it was a big headache for me to purchase this album. When this first came out, I was probably around 13 or 14 and it had a huge sticker on it saying the cover art was too offensive to be shown. Luckily it didn't have a Parental Advisory sticker on it, which was really my mothers main requirement when buying music. So, naturally I had very little Slayer albums when I was this young, but I did have albums by Entombed, At the Gates, Deicide, Suffocation, Unleashed and all this great stuff that was far too obscure for censors to even bother with! I think this is also one of the major things that saved me from spending any time with popular Rock/Metal of this time... it's kind of comical when you think about it, because my mother, being Catholic, didn't want me listening to that kind of stuff. To their credit, Black/Death Metal bands usually have better things to talk about than constant swearing like the more popular bands, who seem to "offend" people on the basis that they use harsh language and that's so comical to me compared to what Black Metal has presented to the world as a critique against social norms.

Anyway, "Once Upon the Cross" is a far more polished release compared the far harsher prior two releases. Some people consider this to be a fairly weak Death Metal album where "Legion" is their strongest release, but I actually really enjoyed this album. The music has this great balance between being catchy and devastatingly heavy and pummeling. Even looking back on this, one of the major aspects I appreciated about Deicide is that they could get through an album without constant blast beating and instead came up with more interesting material. I have nothing against a large onslaught of blast beats, but I do appreciate when a band can do more than just that with their drums. I really have no complaints about this release and, to this day, I listen to it quite often, although, I think I should bring "Legion" into rotation a little more.

I remember in high school, Deicide was consider one of the most Anti-Christian bands out there. Lyrically they're quite extreme with songs like "Kill the Christian" and from an American standpoint Glen burning the inverted cross into his head is quite insane... but in light of Black Metal, Deicide, to me, comes across as quite tame for this time frame. I think that's what took some wind out of the sails of Death Metal for being the most extreme... the level Black Metal could go to was far beyond that. Perhaps the arson charges in the U.S. are a lot more steep, or this just never occurred to Death Metal bands to act on, but that kind of thing would never really happen out here.

In the end I highly regard "Once Upon the Cross" as one of Deicide's finest moments, something I would rarely ever hear again. The Polish band Hate would pick up Deicide's style and run with it for years, before transforming into their own sound. I don't think they would ever write something as intoxicating as "They are the Children of the Underworld" though.

Deicide - Amon: Feasting the Beast
Roadrunner Records, 1993
Genre: Death Metal

Sacrificial (1989):
1. Lunatic of God's Creation
2. Sacrificial Suicide
3. Crucifixation
4. Carnage in the Temple of the Damned
5. Dead by Dawn
6. Blaspherereion
Feasting the Beast (1987):
7. Feasting the Beast (Intro)
8. Sacrificial Suicide
9. Day of Darkness
10. Oblivious to Nothing

If you've missed out on Deicide's first two demos, originally published under the band name Amon, then here's a chance for you to hear that piece of history. Most people missed out on these, especially the 1987 demo, which was never really released. Another interesting point is that R/C/ is now Roadrunner and luckily Deicide were only re-releasing demos when this change happened, because if you were a band releasing an album it probably sounded horrible. Suffocation's "Breeding the Spawn" sounded worse, in terms of quality, compared to "Effigy of the Forgotten" and Malevolent Creation's "Stillborn" sounded far worse when compared to "Retribution". I have no idea what happened this year, but it made stellar albums sound terrible.

Everything on the "Sacrificial" demo made it onto their first album, however the real treat is "Feasting the Beast" where not everything made it.  In fact "Sacrificial" being recorded in the studio doesn't sound totally different from the self-titled debut. It's obvious that's what got the band signed. "Feasting the Beast" however, was recorded in the garage on the bands 8-track recorder. The only song to continuously make it onto future recordings was "Sacrificial Suicide," which must be a band favorite. However, it seems only riffs may have made it from the other songs. It's interesting to hear the early recordings though, they sound awful, which is typical for this type of stuff. Glen Benton basically insists on using a pitch shifter the entire time. The drums are not very audible. The guitar riffs are really still transitioning out of the trappings of Thrash Metal, before breaking into new genre ground. I feel like Deicide were trying to be a more evil Slayer in some respects.

This is a must have for collectors. You should never expect a bands demo material to rival anything in a studio setting, so for those interested in the bands history I highly recommend getting this. I have no idea if this is hard to find these days, I just bought everything Deicide when I was collecting in the 90's.

Deicide - Legion
R/C, 1992
Genre: Death Metal

1. Satan Spawn, the Caco-Daemon
2. Dead but Dreaming
3. Repent to Die
4. Trifixion
5. Behead the Prophet (No Lord Shall Live)
6. Holy Deception
7. In Hell I Burn
8. Revocate the Agitator

This was my first Deicide album ever and I think I got this around 1993 or 1994. This was also one of my earliest experiences with Death Metal and I feel like this is a more obscure gateway band than the usual Sepultura or Cannibal Corpse around this time frame. I was never a big fan of Cannibal Corpse, but the sonic intensity of Deicide was more my speed. I always felt that Deicide could hit harder than most of the other bands out there and they came across as far more vicious, so when I finally found some other bands they weren't as interesting. Suffocation, on the other hand, would always be one of the heaviest bands around for me.

"Legion" starts off with "Satan Spawn, the Caco-Daemon" which intros with goats and a sample of Glen's voice in reverse. All standard fair Satanic imagery by today's standards, but back then it was a little more "shocking," especially to twelve year old me who had never heard something like this and was listening to things like Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer only the year before as I journeyed into far more levels of Metal. I remember thinking the opening song was very chaotic sounding and I suppose I still think that today. It comes off as a lot more frenetic when compared to the other tracks. "Dead but Dreaming" is extremely classic, but very well structured. I think some of this chaos was done in the name of increasing the music technicality as you can hear in "Repent to Die." By the way, the bass guitar cutting through the mix in some of the riffs is spectacular! This album is literally over before you know it, since it clocks in at just under a half hour. It's a heavy blitzkrieg assault on your brain and given how well written the music is, I do wish it was a little longer.

"Legion" has a fold out poster kind of booklet which has a fairly cheesy version of the "trifixion" symbol first found in the booklet of the self-titled. Maybe it was cooler back then, but these days the poster would look kind of silly and campy. The music is anything, but that, so it's a strange mix to revisit. I actually wonder if this influenced the symbol the French Black Metal bands would use for Les Legiones Noire, albeit their version of the symbol is far more heavily embellished. Since both projects were operating at similar times, I just wonder if there was any influence there.

Apparently there was some criticism as to whether Glen Benton could really growl, which makes sense because I've heard people even question that today! I once played a show where someone told me all the growlers use pedals... and I know they don't and I wasn't about to. Glen did use some effects on the self-titled, but you can tell he didn't pitch shift his voice or anything like that for the vast majority of the album. In any event, he felt the need to point out on "Legion" that "This album was recorded with no harmonizer on my vocals, so for all my vocal critics 'SUFFER'." Either way, this is a very highly regarded Death Metal album and an absolute must have for Death Metal fans.

Deicide - Deicide
R/C, 1990
Genre: Death Metal

1. Lunatic of God's Creation
2. Sacrificial Suicide
3. Oblivious to Evil
4. Dead by Dawn
5. Blaspherereion
6. Deicide
7. Carnage in the Temple of the Damned
8. Mephistopheles
9. Day of Darkness
10. Crucifixation

I'm in the mood to go back in time and listen to some seriously classic Death Metal. Starting this off we go back to Deicide's self titled. I got into Deicide shortly after "Legion" was released and I bought that album solely based on the cover. Being 12 and thinking such imagery was cool was all it took for me to find Deicide. Little did I know the level of classic Death Metal I was about to embark on as their status got more and more legendary over the years.

You have to consider the American scene around this time. The most well known projects were Cannibal Corpse, Malevolent Creation, Obituary, Morbid Angel, and Suffocation. Most of the bands seemed to come out of Florida and Deicide was no exception. Deicide used to go by the name Amon at first, but after two demos switched to Deicide. Perhaps Amon wasn't evil enough, and that was probably true. Deicide really had a unique approach to the genre and they sounded markedly more evil than their other compatriots.

Every song on here has gone on to be basically be considered a seriously classic and these songs are heavily covered by other bands today. The Hoffman brothers guitar work is seriously incredible and so well written, and it's rather impressive how different their approach to the genre was. "Deicide" has the obvious heavy Thrash Metal influences as just about all early Death Metal does, but "Deicide" is faster and so much heavier than Thrash Metal you'd find in the 80's.  The Hoffman brothers use a very thick guitar tone and their riffs come across as so much darker than a lot of other bands at this time. Songs like "Blaspherereion", which has too many e's in it, is clearly influenced by the likes of Possessed. Glen Benton's growl, at this time, sits somewhere between  the standard Death Metal growl and a Thrash Metal yell, so it creates a fairly unique feel vocally as well. Eventually Glen would transition into using a more standard Death Metal growl, which was very appropriate for future albums, so I don't mind the loss. It also sets this album apart and sits as an interesting piece of Metal history and shows the clear evolution.

Strangely one of my all time favorite songs from this album is "Carnage in the Temple of the Damned," and the lyrics are basically all about Jim Jones. It even starts off with a sample telling people to drink the wine. Seriously a classic Death Metal release that fans of Death Metal should appreciate the world over.

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