Deicide – Overtures Of Blasphemy

Famously noted for his devout Christian beliefs, the God-fearing Glen Benton has never been shy about expressing his religious side. A deeply pious man, the always smiling Benton assembled his first church choir in 1987. Going by the name of Amon, and aided by an unofficial fifth member, Jesus, the small band of congregants decided to change their name to something a little more wholesome and reverential. Settling upon Deicide (the act of killing a god), the four-piece inexplicably found themselves at the forefront of the burgeoning Floridian Death Metal scene, going on to inspire an untold number of godless hairy noisemakers.

With nearly thirty years under their belts, you probably think you’ve heard everything you need to from Deicide. After launching themselves out of the starting blocks with their ferocious 1990 genre-defining debut Deicide (Roadrunner) and its 1992 follow-up Legion, the band settled into their comfort zone and, with a few peaks and troughs along the way, kept a steady but relatively unadventurous ship for a number of years. However, when long-time members Eric and Brian Hoffman left the band in 2004, Benton and drummer Steve Asheim were forced into a period of re-adjustment.

Somewhat surprisingly, that re-adjustment didn’t last long at all, and with the addition of guitarists Jack Owen, and the recently departed Ralph Santolla, the reinvigorated act returned with the quite magnificent The Stench of Redemption (Earache) in 2006. Since then, Deicide’s output has been of a suitably higher standard than many of their peers. Sure, their line-up hasn’t been the most stable, and they’re never going to be able to match the incendiary belligerence of their first two albums or 1997’s superb Serpents of the Light, but with some adept songwriting and more skillful guitar work since the departure of the Hoffmans, the last few years have seen some of their finest work.

With the guitar pairing of new boy Mark English (Monstrosity) and the returning Kevin Quirion (Order of Ennead) for new album Overtures of Blasphemy (Century Media), the riffs still remain pleasingly brutal, and with Benton returning to active songwriting duty for the first time since 1992, opener ‘One With Satan’, ‘Compliments of Christ’, and ‘Consumed by Hatred’ all feature that little extra amount of bile and bitterness.

With a clear melody and superb hook, ‘Crawled From the Shadows’ constitutes a genuine, honest-to-Satan sing along. It might still tear along at a reliably frantic pace, but you’ll be humming this one for days, if not weeks. Elsewhere, the likes of ‘Seal the Tomb Below’, ‘All That is Evil’, ‘Flesh, Power, Dominion’, and ‘Crucified Soul Of Salvation’ are all tracks which could seriously be described as “catchy”, while others such as ‘Anointed in Blood’, ‘Excommunicated’, ‘Defying the Sacred’, and the crunching finale ‘Destined to Blasphemy’ all have their hooks, but rely on the more time-honoured and straightforward methods of speed and brutality to get their point across.

Not content with just spewing out another forty minutes of relentless Christian baiting, Benton keeps his lyrical content interesting by mercilessly ripping into other religions as well as drawing on his own life experiences, much as he did with ‘Forever Hate You’ on 2000’s Insineratehymn. And judging by the results, he’s not always been the happiest of puppies.

Continuing to challenge, condemn, and deliberately provoke, Deicide’s profane crusade against all things Jesusy continues apace on Overtures of Blasphemy, and shows absolutely no sign of slowing down. Prepare to hail Satan. Again.