Deicide: Once upon the cross
30/04/10 || Daemonomania
There was a time when the name Deicide stood for quality. That time has come and gone. I mean, c’mon, the last one (cover: Skeletor at an all-you-can-eat fatty buffet) sounds like Benton and Co. trying to squeeze the last few drops of fan interest out of the “Dechristianize” formula. Which would be like Six Feet Under releasing a cover album full of tunes from Torture Killer’s “Swarm”. Actually, I wouldn’t put it past SFU. They’ll cover anything.
Back to Deicide. In the good ole days few could fuck with Florida’s formidable foursome. They were on a roll with their debut, the awesome “Legion”, and were keepin’ it live in ’95. Never had the band merged their punishing brand of Satanic death metal with accessibility so perfectly. And they never would again. So journey back to the land of the Seminole and the swamp panther and embrace the evil that is “Once upon the cross”. If you like your death metal primal, complete with monstrous grooves, you’ll definitely understand why this album is fucken Class material.
Like I just said, a wonderful combination of Deicide’s hateful and blisteringly fast deathing with the first strong inclusion of infectious grooves. Grooves that would become more and more simplistic, eventually making the band sound like a lackluster shadow of themselves. On “OUtC” each and every song has a rhythmic breakdown sure to get necks moving like an accident scene on the side of the highway. Some might call the inclusion of these catchy sections selling out. These are the same type of people who think any format other than 7 inch vinyl is bullshit and that getting your picture taken means you’ll lose your soul. They should shut up. Fucken Luddites.
No denying that Deicide would continue getting worse after this (though I do like “Serpents” quite a bit), but here the violence and user friendliness were dealt out in equal measure. Two major drawback are that these elements are incorporated in the same doses and the changes take place at roughly the same times in each track. If the choruses weren’t so damn contagious it’d be pretty easy to grow bored by the end of the album.
Thankfully that’s not the case. The hits just keep comin’ (in your face). The storming title track. The martial battlecry of “When Satan rules his world”. The grooveorgy ending of “Kill the Christian”. And my two personal faves, “Trick or betrayed” (with its fantastic opening sample) and the blazing “Confessional rape”. The tracks I didn’t mention by name? All of them are sweet too. 9.5 despite the repetition.
Sounds like Morrisound. Is it Morrisound? It’s Morrisound. Reminds me a lot of “Pierced from within”, actually. Warm and fuzzy and pleasant. The drumming is a bit muted but overall powerful, the vocals shine through, a lot of the riffing seems pushed to the background, and good luck hearing much bass. Does that take away from the brutality? It depends. If you need your DM cold and clinical then you’ll absolutely hate “OUtC”. For the rest of us this muddy tone will call forth beautiful memories of cassette tapes and expensive baggy pants and youthful exuberance. Music from this time and place really shouldn’t sound any different. 8.
The “Ding Dong” Brothers on fire! Decimating riffery fills in the “OUtC” song template and just by thinking of a track title you can remember the specific hassling served up by da Hoffs. That being said, a large part of the been there done that feeling the listener gets by song 5 or so has to do with buried, somewhat unexciting non-breakdown riffs in each song. But oh, those grooves. The rhythmic twin guitar beatings administered are legendary. As someone better than me once said, “more grooves than a fat bitch in a thong”. Just lovely. Soloing runs the gamut from being ingenious to whammy bar sodomy to simply running up and down the scales, but they are a refreshing change from the formula at hand. 7.5 methinks.
Who delivered a line like Benton in his prime? Each word right on time and sure sounding fine? Yeah, he doesn’t alternate between a mid-ranged bellow and his higher screech as often as other albums, and there is also less of that cool double-tracked high/low vocal attack. But the method in which he mirrored the riffs and drums, his enunciation, the rage bubbling under each word, and the singsong quality of his growling…fucking massive. In my mind, DM vocals really don’t get much more qual-a-tay. 9.5.
Benthoven is definitely not known as the world’s greatest bassist. Wasn’t there some rumor that he couldn’t even play the instrument when he first started the band? Well, even if he had reached unheard-of levels of proficiency by 1995, Morrisound makes sure you can’t hear too much of it. I’ll be nice and give him a 6.66. .006.
Asheim kills it on this one, though due to the production you can’t quite hear the intricacies of his performance. Maybe there weren’t any intricacies. Maybe Steve-O just blasted the shit out of his kit on the fast parts and then laid down cool and calculated double bass during the slow parts. If so, fine by me. Were today’s drummers to figure out that every second didn’t need to be spent doing fills and wacky shit we’d have some better metal on our hands. Asheim is the Phil Rudd of Floridian death metal on “OUtC”. Well done. 9.
Lords of the plague, seven are they
Born in the mountain of Mashu’s magic
Mashu, eh? As in Mashu Potatoes? Benwonton was actually doing a pretty damn good job on this disc with the lyrical content. Less nonsensical BIBLEBASHABIBLEBASHABIBLEBASHA ranting and more pointed, angry commentary on death metal’s favorite belief system. But there’s always gotta be something like Mashu tossed in there to up the ridiculousness quota. Turns out the mountain of Moo shu pork has something to do with ancient Mesopotamian mythology. Something I’m sure your average trailer-dwelling Floridian longhair studies obsessively.
With songs like “Confessional rape” and “Kill the Christian”, there is not a tremendous amount of room for poetical experimentation. At this point Glenda could have been belting out menus at local Florida eateries and still sounded like the devil himself. So the lyrics are secondary, but I’ll give ‘em a 7.5 nonetheless.
Every Christian’s worst nightmare – to be called into the morgue and asked to identify the disemboweled corpse of ze lord and savior. Or maybe their worst nightmares involve their children turning gay? Who knows? Benton and the boys, never ones for subtlety, really hit one out of Blasphemy Stadium this time. I have the “censored” version which features Jimmy Christmas’ mangled frame hidden under a sheet. Simply open the booklet to enjoy the gory details. Back in the day it must have caused a healthy amount of controversy. Hell, it still would probably make the ladies in your local Baptist church spasm and speak in tongues. Victory for teen Satanists everywhere! 9.5.
Deicide’s logo has always looked like something they came up with in 6th grade. Squiggly and red. Unimpressive. But instantly recognizable. Given these two competing factors (shittiness of execution vs. notoriety), a 5 seems fair.
The thank you’s and lyrics are all in order, but it is the cover imagery that makes this one iconic. Now go burn another cross in your forehead. 6.
Overall and ending rant:
Not gonna apologize for being a Deicide fanboy. They’re my go-to American death metal band when I need an aggressive, somewhat mindless fix of punishment and groove. Two decades after their inception their output ain’t so hot, but albums like “OUtC” will live forever as death metal classics. Buy it, blast it, piss some people off. Unless you really are a sour and dour fan of only the most technical, obscure shit on the planet (or DM just doesn’t get your dolphin foamy), there’s no reason not to own some old-school ‘cide. It’s the perfect short stab to the groin of the Nazarene, and I can guarantee a lack of tricks or betrayal following an investment in the cross.
- Released: 1995
- Label: Roadrunner
- Website: Deicide MySpace
- Glen Benton: vocals, bass
- Eric Hoffman: guitars
- Brian Hoffman: guitars
- Steve Asheim: drums
- 01. Once Upon the Cross
- 02. Christ Denied
- 03. When Satan Rules His World
- 04. Kill the Christian
- 05. Trick or Betrayed
- 06. They Are the Children of the Underworld
- 07. Behind the Light Thou Shall Rise
- 08. To Be Dead
- 09. Confessional Rape