Roadrunner, 1990

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Fans of Christian music, fair warning: Stop reading right here. You've been warned.

You see, Glen Benton and the members of Deicide are not going to have their albums found next to the Jimmy Swaggart discography any time soon (unless you see me leaving the record store with an evil smile on my face). Deicide is most decidedly pro-Satan, anti-religion. (Knowing that Benton has an inverted cross branded onto his forehead, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone.)

Deicide, their self-titled debut effort from 1990, has all the trimmings you’d expect from extreme metal: rapid-fire guitar lines, blast beats on the drums, and lyrics that would have made Max Von Sydow’s face melt in The Exorcist. What’s impressive is that they deliver their message and scoot out the door. No extended musical sections; no unneeded wheedling on the guitar. And this is actually a breath of fresh air for the genre.

Clocking in at just over 33 minutes, Benton and crew—guitarists Eric and Brian Hoffman and drummer Steve Asheim—deliver 10 tracks that are as powerful as an Mike Tyson overhand right to the listener’s skull. Musically, does it plow any new ground? Well, I’d be hard-pressed to say any of the tracks do... but the overall power in the delivery of these songs is what causes them to rise above many others in the genre. That, plus solid musical performances and songwriting, make this a disc above many of its peers in the genre.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The key here, I believe, is the brevity of the songs; only two tracks dip above the four-minute mark in length. On tracks like “Sacrificial Suicide,” “Carnage In The Temple Of The Damned” and “Oblivious To Evil,” the key for Deicide is get in, deliver the goods, and get out while the listener is still stunned by the sonic onslaught they’ve just faced. That is the brilliance of the attack on Deicide... and I’m not saying that longer tracks (or even the longer tracks on this album) could be bad ideas. The genius lies in leaving the listener wanting more.

Lyrically, Benton alternates between vocal clarity and needing the lyric sheet to decipher what he’s singing about. And, let’s be honest: you’re not going to put this one on when the preacher comes over for Sunday dinner. You know exactly what you're walking into when this goes into the CD player. Whether Deicide are dead serious about what they sing about or if it’s just marketing hype, I don’t know, and I don’t care. (Plus, not all the tracks are necessarily love notes to Beelzebub; the disc’s opener “Lunatic Of God’s Creation” is a short blurb about Charles Manson, while “Carnage In The Temple Of The Damned” tells the story of Jim Jones. (Okay, not exactly stuff to be on the next Hallmark Channel movie, but still...)

Other bands have traveled the path of writing short, intense songs—hell, it was the entirety of the early days of Napalm Death’s career. And it’s not like Benton and crew would attempt epic works like Venom’s “At War With Satan” at any point; very few Deicide albums clock in at over 40 minutes in length. But Deicide does set the bar fairly high—not just for the band, but for other bands in the demonic/death genre. It’s not one I often listen to, but it’s a refreshing kick in the ass when I do.

Rating: A-

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