Released: 2008, Earache Records
Reviewer: Kyle Moore, the Metal Magnus
Legendary Florida-based death metal band Deicide was an act that until now had mostly passed me by. There’s something about blithely spiteful anti-religious diatribes that gets old after the 100th song imagining Satan’s soon-to-be empire of Christ-raping. Call me demanding, but I like a little variety, something front man Glen Benton and company thus far haven’t delivered for me. Between Mr. Benton’s inverted-cross branded forehead and songs about the numerous demons that could be menacing my bowels, Deicide has held little interest for me. With minimal expectations, I loaded up TILL DEATH DO US PART and found myself surprised.
Opening instrumental “The Beginning of the End” is one of the best intro’s I’ve ever heard – its creepy, turgid, heavy, and ultra-malicious sounding, with dissonant guitar layers slowly building layers of tightening tension atop of some killer drum fills. Next is the dirge-like, uptempo title track “Till Death do us Part,” and here’s where my interest in this album really begins.
Though a disclaimer on the back sleeve of the CD says otherwise, TILL DEATH TO US PART supposedly contains many songs expressing vocalist/bassist Glen Benton’s pathologically endless hatred towards his ex-wife. While the anti-Christian themes still pop up, this album is dedicated towards the musical de-humanizing of this unfortunate woman. In “Hate of all Hatreds,” Mr. Benton’s hyper-aggressive vocals belch out so quickly and forcefully that you can hear him struggle to breathe in between phrases. Even after hearing hundreds of angry, bearded men violate their vocal cords for metal, Mr. Benton’s bloody voice earns my respect for sounding exceptionally wrenching, painful, and venomous (and sadly unintelligible most of the time – I’d love to understand his wife-hating diatribes without resorting to a lyric sheet.) Thankfully he’s also minimized the double-tracked scream that was generally overused in previous albums (whereas here it actually adds depth), though he still gets into annoyingly repetitive vocal rhythms that don’t vary much between songs.
TILL DEATH DO US PART also has the distinction of being one of the most drum-driven death metal albums I’ve encountered. Drummer Steve Asheim also writes most of the music, and it shows. The buzzing tremolo guitars are just a little buried beneath the relentless blastbeats and zippy fills, except for hired gun Ralph Santolla’s excellent shredding guitar solos which sound almost too loud in comparison. Santolla’s and Jack Owen’s chuggy riffs usually aim to be as dementedly fast and brutal as possible, but without much variety. The result sometimes creates monotony and a sense that Deicide tried to write each song to be successively faster and more brutal than the last without regard to dynamics or exploration. It isn’t until the gloomy “Horror in the Halls of Stone” that we get a brief slowdown with some welcome non-tremolo’d riffs.
Occasional one-dimensional aspects aside, TILL DEATH DO US PART is still a near-perfect example of what technical/brutal death metal should sound like. Standout tracks like “Hate of all Hatreds,” “Not as Long as we Both Shall Live,” and “Severed Ties” are fiercely awesome headbanging tracks that most metalheads should enjoy. My personal favorite is the thrashy “Severed Ties” which has a heavy, grooving 80’s style backbeat (at hyperspeed, of course) with Mr. Benton’s vocals barking away like an unchained hellhound. “Angel of Agony” almost sounds like an early Mayhem track with some melodic leads. Death metal fans of all walks and Deicide devotees should find plenty of enjoyment here.