Once considered the scariest metal band on the planet, few bands touched the brutality and sheer evilness of Deicide
. Early recordings by the Florida act help set death metal standards for vocal lows, speed and shredding solos. Disenfranchised youths looked to Deicide
to fuel their rebellion against Christian ideology. Twenty-one years after their self-titled debut, front man Glen Benton’s bestial growls still have the power to stroke the fires of hell, but with a different infernal cast.
To Hell With God
marks the third album without original guitarists Eric and Brian Hoffman. Combing Steve Asheim’s drum work and Benton’s bass play, Deicide
keeps continuity in its rhythm section. Former Cannibal Corpse
guitarist Jack Owen and ex-Iced Earth, Obituary
shredder Ralph Santolla possess skills capable of replacing the Hoffman brothers, but to the detriment of long-time fans, this dexterous duo has brought new ideas and sounds to the Deicide
In addition to Santolla’s Catholic faith, the infusion of melody took many by surprise on the lineup’s first foray The Stench of Redemption. The guitar playing is a bit of a double-edged sword on To Hell With God
. While melody is not as apparent this time, it’s still there. While Santolla’s playing is nothing short of phenomenal, it’s dissimilar to the burning fret-work of the Hoffman brothers. At the same time, Owen brings a Cannibal Corpse
influence on “Hang in Agony” and “Witness of Death” that is not only expected but also refreshing.
“How Can You Call Yourself A God, “Witness of Death” and “Angels of Hell” contain some of the album’s more memorable riffing. “Into the Darkness You Go” and “Conviction” feature the rolling grooves that define Deicide
classics such as “When Satan Rules His World.” Asheim’s triggered drums and Benton’s bass overshadow the thin guitar tones, though, washing over some of the best parts of the album.
Glen Benton can’t reach the vocal lows of the early days, which one would expect after taxing his voice for twenty-four years. Because of a higher vocal register, the lyrics become easier to identify, so his words can make more of an impact. Not that Deicide
’s anti-Christian sentiments are as shocking after ten full-length recordings. Asheim’s speed is much greater than earlier albums, but is too high in the mix. Owen and Santolla have brought a needed newness, but most likely old school fans will listen to To Hell With God
and reach for a classic album featuring the Hoffman brothers.