Don’t tell the gentlemen in Deicide that death metal is a young man’s sport. Four decades into their career, the Tampa, Fla. stalwarts are still dishing out some of the most unforgiving metal you’ll hear anywhere. This week, Deicide released ‘To Hell With God,’ the 10th studio album in the quartet’s punishing discography. Pound for pound, the record more than holds its own next to any of the group’s most-worshiped releases. Since we’ve been playing the hell (no pun intended) out of their albums lately, we decided to compile our list of the top 10 Deicide songs.
‘Homage for Satan’
From ‘The Stench of Redemption’ (2006)
There’s nothing fancy about this one — it’s just Deicide throwing down the gauntlet like only they can. Featuring current six-stringers Jack Owen (ex-Cannibal Corpse) and Ralph Santolla (Obituary), the band wisely aimed the spotlight on their new additions. The axemen take turns soloing on ‘Homage to Satan.’ Both musicians showcase their affinity for the majestic flair of guitarists like Ritchie Blackmore and Michael Schenker.
There’s something Slayer-like about the riff and vocal patterns in this one. Take that and blend it with Deicide’s speedier tendencies, and you’re left with a dazzling display of thrash’s in-your-face attitude melded with death metal’s intricate style of barbarism.
We could have chosen at least three or four other cuts from the ‘Legion’ album for this list, but we went with ‘Dead but Dreaming’ for its vast array of white-hot guitar parts and quick tempo shifts. Deicide’s signature songwriting formula of velocity, schizophrenic vocal lines and memorable chorus refrains has never let them down, and this track is no exception. By their second record, these guys already sounded like tried-and-true veterans.
A fitting audio clip taken from Martin Scorsese’s controversial 1988 film ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ intros ‘Once Upon the Cross,’ but it’s not till drummer Steve Asheim’s airtight cymbal chokes that your blood pressure starts to accelerate. From then on, the title track to Deicide’s third album doesn’t let its foot off the gas pedal. This one’s not for the faint of heart.
This one kicks off Deicide’s sophomore album in ominous fashion, with bassist-vocalist Glen Benton warning us about Satan’s offspring over a twisted maze of guitar riffs from brothers Eric and Brian Hoffman along with Asheim’s precision-perfect drum work. In terms of sheer endurance, ‘Satan Spawn, the Caco-Daemon’ is nothing short of jaw-dropping. The merciless speed and technicality of its arrangement proves they had the playing skills to back up their larger-than-life image.
A full 14 years into their career, and Deicide show no sign of letting up. The opening and title song of their new album is as ferocious as anything the death dealers have ever put down on tape. Owen and Santolla clearly have carved out their own piece of real estate in the group’s writing style, and the band is better because of it.
This pick features some slower tempos from the quartet and in bringing the pacing down, Deicide open up the arrangement to the kind of nuances their speedier material usually sacrifices. Benton’s lower vocal register has rarely sounded as sinister as it does on ‘Horror in the Halls of Stone,’ and it also complements the song’s monolithic drum and guitar stomp. Deicide can definitely hold their own on the slower side of the metal spectrum.
There are few musicians that can turn an abrasive death metal song and whip it into something as catchy as ‘Dead by Dawn’ is. From the first time you hear the song, you’ll find yourself humming along to the repetitive chant that poses as its chorus. In an another stroke of metallic genius, producer Scott Burns doubles Benton’s vocals with a pitch-shifted track that sounded like Linda Blair’s infamously possessed character in ‘The Exorcist.’
After releasing two lackluster albums during the first part of the aughts, our boys came back with a vengeance on ‘Scars of the Crucifix’ in 2004. The title cut finds Deicide in fighting form and armed with one of the most inspired performances you’ll find in their genre. The naysayers that wrote the group off earlier in the decade had nothing to cackle about after this song was unleashed on the public. Few would ever doubt Benton and company again from this point on.
This audio swarm of buzzing guitars, maniacal vocals and double-bass drum overkill was most of the world’s introduction to Deicide. Clocking in at just under three minutes in length, the opening cut on the combo’s debut album not only delivered on the deadly promise of their late ’80s demos — it also introduced many of the potent traits they would revisit throughout their studio work. The folks at Roadrunner Records, Deicide’s label at the time, knew they had something special on their hands.
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