Deicide – In the Minds of Evil
Release Date: November 26, 2013
There’s little to say that isn’t already known about the death metal legends that are Deicide. The band perfected the blasphemous and anti-Christian thematic leanings that were already employed by the likes of the first wave forefathers or even their marginally earlier contemporaries such as Morbid Angel. Was this provocative running theme in any way original? No, but the band presented similarly impious musings with a new-found crudeness, ferocity and aggression that did not need to lean back upon indirect expressions of sacrilege such as references to the occult and alternative path topics, and instead were more blatantly profane.
This November sees the release of Deicide’s latest studio endeavor, ‘In the Minds of Evil’, an album with admittedly high expectations among the band’s long-term fans (a pretty large one, considering they are the second most commercially successful death metal band of all time), in addition to the fact that the post-‘Serpents of the Light’ output has been of varying degrees of quality, although not of a purely hit or miss nature.
Thematically, Deicide hasn’t really expanded beyond their audacious iconoclasm, as the title of the songs and albums reveal, but really, Deicide is one of the few bands who can stick to this mode of action and not be deemed monotonous and derivative. The same can be said for their music – it’s essentially an exaltation to their already well-known signature sound, but reinvented in a sense by adding subtle tweaks to their otherwise formulaic approach that continues to keep the metal world enraptured. The first half of the album is laden with simple rhythmic ideas that are structurally rather simple, ranging from the syncopation-driven riffing on tracks such as ‘Beyond Salvation’, to roving riffs that give way to the establishment of a repetitive groove that serves to increase the memorability of compositions such as ‘In the Minds of Evil’ and ‘Godkill’. While the guitars here are seemingly sterile, they help to illuminate the more subtle melodies that Jack Owen and Kevin Quirion embed within simplistically structured and cyclic songs.
‘Misery of One’, serves as the bridging gap between one half of the album and the other. Hereon, there are still certainly percussive riff phrasings employed by the band. However, the guitarists usher in a variety of eclectic tempo changes and excellently craft the dynamics of the rest of the album. Ideas evolve around elemental rhythm guitar ideas which soon proliferate a pleasant mix of dissonant and melodic lead guitar work, illuminating either the backbone riff or soaring forth as individual solos. The initial segments of ‘Trample the Cross’ features a harmonization evocative of an almost black metal sense of euphony. Dissonant guitar ideas are brought to fore with a sense of urgency, while the more melodic leads take their time in establishing a punishingly pleasing aesthetic, which is simply fantastic. There is a duality to the guitars that the band has recently experimented with in the post-Hoffman era, which is somewhat deviant from their older material but works wonders in their newer output.
Steve Asheim’s drumming is elementary by his standards at first, although the songs certainly call for that very candor, but quickly shifts to his characteristic relentlessness and diversity, and he certainly delivers in this department. His technical adroitness is on full display as he shifts between simplistic grooves and double-kick driven, galloping or tremolo-driven vectors of rhythms. His eclectic drumming style works in percussive cadence with the guitars, which at the very least establishes a cohesive sound that certainly works for the band. However, unlike the classic Deicide records, the percussion does not command the other instruments but instead work in equitable congruency. Glen Benton’s vocals are an incredibly powerful and hoarse indulgence, and instead of the trademark overlapping screams and bellows, the iconic and controversial frontman concentrates on reinforcing the already menacing atmospheres with his avalanche-inducing roars. As for his bass guitar performance, the songs that fixate on catchy grooves particularly make his bass work pop out of the mix, as one will observe. Additionally, and needless to say, man of the riff ideas are likely the handiwork of the core of the band – Asheim (a talented multi-instrumentalist) and Benton.
Essentially, Deicide hits a home run due to the fact that they turn songs centered around linear execution into bombastic compositions by injecting small but well thought out elements to add to the dynamic nature of the same. Despite being a straightforward record, it does take some time to settle (which takes away from its immediate memorability) and is not an avenue for immediate appeasement. This album is not typified by the primal, self-defining, fast-shifting monolithic rhythms, which characterize the classic Deicide catalog. It takes at least some time to grow on the listener, but once it does settle in, you recognize that the core values of the Deicide sonic signature remain intact with some enjoyable additives at just the right places. Lastly, Jason Suecof (Trivium, Death Angel, Battlecross) shines in the producer role as he so readily does.
By Owais Vitek Nabi and Achintya V