Purveyors of all that is unholy and blasphemous, the Lords’ least favourite old-school death metal troupe Deicide return to ravage the sacrosanct with the expectedly-titled ‘Overtures of Blasphemy’. Whilst the anti-Christian/occult shtick of the metal world in general feels long played out, Glen Benton and friends get a pass as evil death metal veterans.
‘One with Satan’, although titled like a teenagers’ MSN name in 2006, waste no time on frivolity. Kicking right into gear with that classic, Entombed-style tradeoff between tremolo and powerful punk chord progressions, and bolstered by an unfaltering rhythm section, the opener shows these guys have lost none of their teeth. An undeniable amount of thick groove is woven into the tapestry here, as it is throughout the rest of the album.
‘Crawled From the Shadows’ does exactly what is says on the tin; a fast but grimy number that employs blasting, rolling drum-work over evil but classic chord progressions. Which isn’t to say they’ve jumped on a black metal bandwagon, moreso they’re fully aware of what techniques to spin to employ a classic death metal spectacle. ‘Seal the Tomb’ is another example, that marrying of growls perfectly in sync with the palm-muted riffs, giving the impression that the entire band as one snarling cultist. Bashing and grooving together in a constant but up-tempo pace, punctuated only by wailing leads and skilful-but-requisite soloing, this is old school death you know all too well but love all the same.
One third of the way through the album, it’s clear by this point that any progressive soy-boys pining for some nice Fallujah-style atmospherics or Beyond Creation tech-prog theatrics will be turned off. The galloping horsemen of Steve Asheim on drums and Benton on bass, and newer members Kevin Qurion and Mark English on the intro to ‘Compliments of Christ’ a non-stop frenetic death metal number, prove this point simply and furiously. The 2018 productions is crisp, clear and conveys the early-90’s hatred as clear as day.
Which isn’t to say this is your Dismembered school of meat-and-potatoes death metal, either. ‘All That Evil’ demonstrates this as a fact. Starting with stompy, frolicking palm-muted riffs, the song plods carefully before breaking into a frenzy of duelling solos, blast-beats and serpentine riffage. Those ever-present, monotone, throat-tearing vocals push the relentless machine onwards, punctuated only by the lead guitar screams.
We continue into familiar territory with ‘Excommunicated’, which could’ve been ripped straight from early Slayer. Settling back into a backdrop of death metal tremolo and punky chug, vocals punching in at exactly the right moment over that typewriter-on-cocaine waterfall of double-kicks Frenetic soloing is of course offered once more as the tasty after-dinner mint before the final wall of riffs and blasts. These guys have mellowed not one bit, evidently.
‘Anointed in Blood’ displays flashier guitar-work which could be considered ‘slow’ for them in a thrash-metal framework with only the vocals hitting that death metal edge. Honestly, it’s a welcome breath of air, without forsaking any evilness in tone or brutality. Guitar playing that has unmedicated ADHD and relentless rhythmic putsch keep things interesting. A stupendously-tight breakdown opens things just briefly enough for more solos and a hectic, sudden outro.
Eight songs in, and ‘Crucified Soul of Salvation’ gives about two bars of relative calm before lashing straight back into that venomous, endless tirade. The pace has doubled since the last track, decimating any chance of reprieve some may be yearning for. Nope. Now shut up and keep that neck swivelling. An endless wall punctuated only by some very flashy Nevermore-worthy soloing, the track keeps its’ head right down otherwise throughout.
With shredding and sombre power chords opening ‘Defying the Sacred’, you’re fully cognisant by this stage of what’s to come next. A completely unstoppable avalanche of thrashing death metal? Once again, no complaints here. It’s fun to bask in the river of old-school, a reminder that not to overlook the core ethos, drive and philosophy of death metal as art. Deicide pummel through the track with a relentless, crushing urgency that many players half their age don’t possess the stamina to keep up with. This is unbridled, unending, timeless hate channelled into an experienced, measured and wise vessel.
Speaking of hatred, well, there’s ‘Consumed by Hatred’ – of course. Gnashing through tried-and-true old-guard thrashing, the drumming here cleverly employs pockets and paces where the tempo varies from fast to ultra-fast, never dropping below that, even underneath a simplistic chorus. The rest of the band oblige this timekeeper and waste not one second under high-tempo. Wait, it’s over already?
‘Flesh, Power, Dominion’ doesn’t pull your head up for air, either. By this stage, you’ve got enough idea of the album to walk away sated – you’re rewarded for sticking around, though. Some very devilish little bass runs and solos give some sneaky variation here; largely however, it’s what you’d expect but faster. Like a predator zoning on the kill, this track is part of the last spurt forwards, pushing through fatigue with relentless blasts and solos to provide an acidic, repentless and fun sprint.
‘Destined to Blasphemy’ is one final stretch of brutality, where the pace is cranked up even higher. While listening, it conjures the image of a Simpsons character clocking up one of those ridiculously-named dials, the steam boiling and whooshing, alleviated only by a stomping power chord riff until the machine clocks over into light-speed right at the very end.
Far from over, Deicide have demonstrated that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ with ‘Overtures of Blasphemy’. In a day and age where extreme metal is atimes a little too obsessed with pseudo-intellectualising and overcomplication, these Floridian horrors remind us time once again that hard work ethic, devotion to The Blast and The Riff, and a sense of pure malevolent fun will outlive and outclass any passing trends.