A bit of a mixed bag

September 2018 sees Floridian death metal masters Deicide return with Overtures of Blasphemy, their 12th album, and the first since Monstrosity guitarist Mark English replaced veteran axeman Jack Owen (currently of Six Feet Under).

Their preceding album, 2013’s In the Minds of Evil, was praised as a return to their classic death metal form, yet press for Overtures of Blasphemy has masterminds Glen Benton and Steve Asheim stating there’s something in here that will appeal to fans of every metal genre. How will this varied approach fare? This reviewer aims to find out.

Album opener ‘One with Satan’, written by Benton, starts off at a crawl and soon erupts into a frenzy. Benton’s vocals are much clearer yet still retain their characteristic grit. It comes across as almost typical Deicide before dual solos from English and Kevin Quirion emerge, signalling an increase in the intensity. The track soon grinds to a halt, ending nearly as quickly as it began. A fine opening number.

‘Crawled from the Shadows’ begins at a breakneck pace, invoking more of a frenzied approach. It’s a bit of a gamble placing a track like this so early in the running, but it works as a display of how English and Quirion’s playing styles lock together. ‘Seal the Tomb Below’ kicks off with some furious blasting, a brief scaling lead, and Benton’s trademark vocals all working in sync. The lead takes centre stage throughout, almost recalling The Stench of Redemption, albeit with a slightly less melodic bent. This track is a great exercise in how song writing need not be focused on a breakneck pace to grab the listener and not let go.

‘Compliments of Christ’ picks up where ‘One with Satan’ left off, with Glen Benton almost relying on his vocal lines to carry the song, which is particularly highlighted by a brief spoken section in the middle. There’s an anthemic feeling to the chorus here too so I could see it going over well in a live situation. ‘All That Is Evil’ feels a little like the tracks that preceded it, that is to say classic Deicide. There’s some great interplay here between the riffs, vocals, and drums. Steve Asheim’s ever-bludgeoning drumming proves to be a highlight here.

‘Excommunicated’ features some great harmonised leads before giving way to Benton’s vocals and lyrics. It’s a suitably brutal track, typical of latter day Deicide. With that said, there’s a lot of energy driving this one along. With Glen’s inimitable vocal lines, it’s easy to see why it was chosen as the first single. “Anointed in Blood’ features some great drumming set against a punishing riff. Even this far into their career, Steve Asheim displays incredible consistency. His rock solid foundations feel like they’re going to provide Benton, Quirion, and English with a chance to cut loose, but the track ends before they take that chance.

‘Crucified Soul of Salvation’ absolutely rips. Like ‘Seal the Tomb Below’ before it, it grabs the listener and doesn’t let go. The band sounds energised, but then it ends. Concise, and focused, but this one could have had an extra minute or two added, and a more daring arrangement, without taking anything from the track.

‘Defying the Sacred’ features some great vocals, and guitar interplay, all underpinned by a memorable riff, but there’s little variation otherwise. It too could have benefited from a little more experimentation. ‘Consumed by Hatred’ relies more on outright brutality, and it’s something of an ocean in the latter part of the album. Its placing in the track listing really helps the album pick up that last bit of momentum.

‘Flesh, Power, Dominion’ is faster, featuring some blazing harmonised leads. It’s perhaps the track on the album that best exemplifies how well Quirion and English are gelling together as a unit. Coming after the preceding songs, it’s a nice surprise to see that Deicide still had something up their collective sleeve.

Album closer ‘Destined to Blasphemy’ is a short, brutal statement of intent, or finality. It feels like they’ve tried to encapsulate all of the ideas on the album into a little over two minutes and, strangely, it works. It proves to be a solid way to close the album, perhaps exemplifying that Deicide still had ideas that they didn’t get to implement earlier.

Overtures of Blasphemy is a bit of a mixed bag. The production (courtesy of Jason Suecof) is nice and clear, each instrument comes through quite well. Newly integrated guitarist Mark English works well, and Quirion, Asheim and Benton ply their instrumental craft as ably as ever. Despite the press release stating that the album featured some varied textures, it feels a little limited. Almost like the band had these ideas, but were perhaps under constraints that didn’t allow them to stretch out and implement as many of them as they would have liked. All of the tracks are around the same length, which means that they sometimes bleed together; it’s hard to know when one track is ending, and another begins. If they’d been able to perhaps implement more of their ideas, maybe some variance in the track lengths and tempos might have helped the album.

I do like this, but there’s a lot of wasted potential. Maybe once Deicide settle into their current configuration, the next album will see them feeling like they’ve got something to prove. If they can take the concept of applying new textures and sounds (as they tried to here) and refine it, it can only help them add to their legacy.

  1. One With Satan
  2. Crawled From the Shadows
  3. Seal the Tomb Below
  4. Compliments of Christ
  5. All That is Evil
  6. Excommunicated
  7. Anointed in Blood
  8. Crucified Soul of Salvation
  9. Defying the Sacred
  10. Consumed by Hated
  11. Flesh, Power, Dominion
  12. Destined to Blasphemy