Album Title: Overtures of Blasphemy
Label: Century Media Records
Date of Release: 14 September 2018
Deicide and I have a strange relationship. On the one hand, I find Glen Benton and the inverted crucifix branded on his forehead to be somewhat ludicrous; a caricature, a parody even. The guy is obsessed with Satan and evil, spewing forth angry, caustic diatribes in his almost sub-human gruff tones at every opportunity. Somehow though, I have a hard time believing that this is entirely genuine. He may have permanently disfigured himself in an effort to show his commitment to the underworld but there is still part of me that wonders, perhaps cheekily, if he still takes a teddy bear to bed with him at night.
On the other hand, it is hard to disagree with the assertion that the Floridan quartet have, over their thirty-plus-year history, released some of the most extreme and nasty music that the death metal subgenre has ever produced. When the Americans are on fire, they are simply one of the best around. Their early albums were immense, as was ‘The Stench of Redemption’ released 12 years ago. Unfortunately, a little like Slayer for example, when Deicide are off the boil, their music isn’t that great. One-dimensional brutality at warp speed, with little or no variation, has meant that several albums over the past 15-20 years have been instantly forgettable.
Nevertheless, there’s a certain caché attached to the name Deicide, which means that it is almost impossible for any self-respecting extreme metal fan to not show interest when news of a new album emerges. And so, here I am, inevitably offering my thoughts on their latest album, their twelfth, entitled ‘Overtures of Blasphemy’.
And, I have to say that it is a definite improvement on the last few, that’s for sure. It isn’t a perfect return to form, but a return to form it still is, with ‘Overtures of Blasphemy’ delivering several excellent tracks within the twelve on offer.
This is also the first recording to feature new guitarist Mark English of Monstrosity fame. He comes in to replace former six-string wielder Jack Owen and slots alongside bassist/vocalist Glen Benton, guitarist Kevin Quirion and drummer Steve Asheim.
The opening track, ‘One With Satan’ is surprisingly slow-paced to begin with, dominated by a bruising, churning riff supported by some incredibly ostentatious and wonderfully over-the-top extreme metal drumming. The pace is increased in a heartbeat however and the ensuing three or so minutes is a blur of frenetic staccato riffing, swirling and wailing lead guitar breaks, guttural vocals and a rhythm section that pummels with venomous intent. Unless I’m mistaken, there’s a hint of melody too, within the final lead guitar solo in particular.
As you know, I’m not averse to melody – the very opposite in fact. And so, when ‘Crawled From The Shadows’ takes over, I’m almost giddy with pleasure. If melody was hinted at in the opener, it bashes the listener over the head here. AOR it is not, but within the track, there’s a demonstrable amount of accessibility and the chorus of sorts borders on the catchy, at least in an extreme death metal context at any rate. It’s still Deicide, but the edges are slightly softer. Similar could be said about ‘Defying The Sacred’, especially within the opening passage and in the mid-section, even though it generally descends into something more unrelenting for the most part.
The contradictions within the short-lived ‘Compliments of Christ’ are most certainly entertaining. Groove, expressive lead breaks and an almost bouncy tempo are juxtaposed with some genuinely hateful lyrics, at least if you’re of a religious bent of course. Mind you, if you are, I give you full marks for getting this far through this review.
For all of the mention of melody, ‘Overtures of Blasphemy’ remains a Deicide album and so all of those elements that you desperately want to hear are very definitely present and correct. If you want to hear music that is faster than the speed of light, then I invite you to check out ‘All That Is Evil’ or the equally swift Slayer-esque ‘Excommunicated’, both of which contain enough raw energy to rip a hole in the space-time continuum. I’ve not put that to the test of course, but it’s almost certainly true.
If you want savage, unrelenting brutality, then to be honest, you could pick just about any track here too, because Benton and Co. have clearly lost none of their edge over their career. The chunky, chugging riffs of ‘Anointed In Blood’ are very pleasing to these ears, as is the monstrous ‘Seal The Tomb Below’, which effortlessly replicates the feeling of being flattened by a steamroller.
As with a lot of death metal, it is difficult not to be left transfixed by the drumming on this record. Steve Asheim certainly offers a devastating display from start to finish, properly thunderous and technically so very adept, comfortable with deploying blastbeats at will, whilst also able to deliver a warp-speed fill or, very occasionally, a more nuanced beat.
What I like equally about ‘Overtures of Blasphemy’ is the finesse demonstrated via the guitarists and in particular, their lead skills. The entire album is littered with extravagant lead breaks, either delivered individually or, more devastatingly, as a duo. It would certainly appear that Deicide might have found a perfect match in English who has already clicked with Quirion to produce some hugely impressive axe-work.
Produced by Jason Suecof and Alan Douches, both stalwarts of the extreme metal scene and with impressive resumes, this has to be one of the best-sounding Deicide albums of recent times too. The final mix has an impressive clarity without sacrificing warmth, something I discovered to my delight when listening on headphones. Throw in cover artwork from Zbigniew Bielak and ‘Overtures of Blasphemy’ adds up to a very entertaining and rewarding listen, without doubt one of the best of these maniac’s career since the turn of the millennium.
The Score of Much Metal: 9
If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from 2018 and from previous years right here:
Brainstorm – Midnight Ghost
Krisiun – Scourge of the Enthroned
Kingcrow – The Persistence
Cast The Stone – Empyrean Atrophy
Omnium Gatherum – The Burning Cold
Helion Prime – Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster
Madder Mortem – Marrow
A Dying Planet – Facing The Incurable
Árstíðir – Nivalis
Mob Rules – Beast Reborn
The Spirit – Sounds From The Vortex
Aethereus – Absentia
Unanimated – Annihilation
Manticora – To Kill To Live To Kill
Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Halcyon Way – Bloody But Unbowed
Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 1
Redemption – Long Night’s Journey Into Day
Distorted Harmony – A Way Out
Tomorrow’s Eve – Mirror of Creation III – Project Ikaros
Atrocity – Okkult II
Lux Terminus – The Courage To Be
Kataklysm – Meditations
Marduk – Viktoria
Midas Fall – Evaporate
The Sea Within – The Sea Within
Haken – L-1VE
Follow The Cipher – Follow The Cipher
Spock’s Beard – Noise Floor
Ihsahn – Amr
The Fierce And The Dead – The Euphoric
Millennial Reign – The Great Divide
Subsignal – La Muerta
At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
Hekz – Invicta
Widow’s Peak – Graceless EP
Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik – Hugsjá
Frequency Drift – Letters to Maro
Æpoch – Awakening Inception
Crematory – Oblivion
Wallachia – Monumental Heresy
Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality
MØL – Jord
Aesthesys – Achromata
Kamelot – The Shadow Theory
Barren Earth – A Complex of Cages
Memoriam – The Silent Vigil
Kino – Radio Voltaire
Borealis – The Offering
W.E.T. – Earthrage
Auri – Auri
Purest of Pain – Solipsis
Susperia – The Lyricist
Structural Disorder – …And The Cage Crumbles In the Final Scene
Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Divine Realm – Nordicity
Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart
Poem – Unique
Gleb Kolyadin – Gleb Kolyadin
Apathy Noir – Black Soil
Deathwhite – For A Black Tomorrow
Conjurer – Mire
Jukub Zytecki – Feather Bed/Ladder Head
Lione/Conti – Lione/Conti
Usurpress – Interregnum
Kælling – Lacuna
Vinide – Reveal
Armored Dawn – Barbarians In Black
Long Distance Calling – Boundless
In Vain – Currents
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs
Tribulation – Down Below
Machine Head – Catharsis
Bjorn Riis – Coming Home EP
Twilight’s Embrace – Penance EP
Bloodshot Dawn – Reanimation
Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau
Arch Echo – Arch Echo
Asenblut – Legenden
Bleeding Gods – Dodekathlon
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse