Deicide // To Hell With God
Rating: 2.5/5.0 —God bless this average mess
Label: Century Media Records
Release Dates: EU: 21.02.2011 | US: 02.21.2011
The evil one is back. Yes, he of the upside down cross branded on his forehead. It’s every one’s favorite Christ hater Glenn Benton and his buddies in Deicide and they bring us album number ten, the unsubtly monikered To Hell With God. Now, I’m all about giving these guys their due props and concede their legendary status in the death metal universe. They, along with Morbid Angel and Obituary put the Florida death metal scene squarely on the map in the 90’s. That said, they’ve been wildly inconsistent in terms of quality studio output. You never know what Deicide is going to show up, the brutal and impressive or the brutally shitty (more often the latter making the appearance). Look no further than their past two releases for proof. 2006’s The Stench of Redemption was monstrous while 2008’s Til Death Do Us Part was a steaming heap of buffalo poo. So where does the new one fall, right or shite? Let’s discuss, then we can Deicide together (sorry, had to be done).
The first thing you will notice as the title track kicks in is the production. Man, this is a very, VERY clear production for a brutal death metal album. Everything is 100% audible, all the instruments are in their own little sonic cubbie holes and sound super crisp. The next thing you’ll notice is how clean the guitar tone is. It’s not as thick and crunchy as one might expect and to be honest, it’s rather bland and flat sounding. Mr. Benton’s vocals are also a little different than usual. Yep, he still alternates between deep death roars and screams but this time out his lyrics are actually intelligible (that’s not necessarily a good thing). I can’t remember being able to decipher his lyrics since their debut (and not very much then either). With these new developments on the table, what about the material?
This is very much a standard Deicide album and the boys didn’t see fit to rewrite the book of satanic death metal. As you would expect, it’s universally fast and pummelling with nonstop pounding drums, Benton’s anti-christian rantings and ramblings and fast, thrashed out riffing by Ralph Santolla and Jack Owen (which, this time out have more Slayer influences than before). On the title track we get effective, if unexceptional, ugly death metal packed with as much God hate as can be spewed in five minutes or less. The riffs are there but don’t stand out much. The solos by Santolla are very well done and his melodic style gives the song a key dynamic shift from the furious bashing. The chorus is oddly catchy and stands out and actually stuck in my head with only one or two listens. From there it’s pretty much thirty more minutes of the same fast, ugly death with mixed results. Some songs are solid, dependable death with decent hooks (“Save Your,” “Angels of Hell” and “Into the Darkness You Go” ) and other blast by with nothing to make them stand out (“Conviction,” “Empowered by Blasphemy” and “Hang in Agony Until You’re Dead”). The clear highlight is closing track “How Can You Call Yourself a God,” which is very Santolla solo heavy and stands out from the pack with a vaguely black metal riff pattern.
Overall, I’m left feeling this is a step up from the urine filled sinkhole that was Til Death Do Us Part, but it’s nowhere near the level of the better Deicide material. There’s an aura of average here and few of the tracks completely escape it. It feels like something is missing and most of the songs just bleed together, and not in a cool deathy way either. While it’s not terrible, there’s nothing here to make me pull this off the shelf over Stench of Redemption or Legion. Only Santolla’s fretwork stands out as above average and that just isn’t enough. Hate to say it, but this is pretty stale and boring as brutal death goes. Sorry Glenn, better luck next time. See you at the church bake sale?