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Deicide Scars of the Crucifix

By Brian Davis, Contributor
Thursday, May 20, 2004 @ 11:35 PM


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I can see it already. If you’re even attempting to read this, you’re already primed to write it off as more one-dimensional, cliché Satanic Death Metal. Utter the word Deicide and people are immediately up in arms. Is the Satanic slant in Death Metal cliché? Of course it is -- it isn’t exactly anything new. But Deicide have been there since the beginning, long before desensitization and grudging acceptance made it easier for bands like this to express their beliefs. For Deicide, it’s not about the shock value or manipulation of Satanic symbolism to garner attention, money or fame. They’re for real -- they’re true to life Satanists and true to life musicians, and their albums are the platforms on which to express themselves as both. So I give respect to the band just for having the balls to do what they want, regardless of what the norm says. Coincidentally, their 1992 release Legion is the biggest selling Death Metal album of all time -- so obviously something is working.

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I’m not a Satanist. I’m not a Christian. Therefore, I’m not offended; but there are countless people out there who are very much Christian and find Satanic lyrics far too blasphemous and offensive to digest. Well, don’t expect anything different, because there’s more of the same here. I mean, come on people -- that’s what they do. The real question here is: Are you someone that enjoys such lyrics, or someone that is able to appreciate musical proficiency enough to look past the demonic diatribes, or someone that takes it in context as an exercise in freedom of speech and an expression of art? If you are any of those -- if you’re able and willing to accept or overlook the lyrical content -- then you stand ready to be blown off your feet.

Continuing the pattern of superlative Death Metal releases in ‘03/’04, Deicide comes right back into your face with their debut album for Earache Records intent on laying waste to the Death Metal community. There was tension and friction abound during the last few years of Deicide’s relationship with Roadrunner Records, and it showed heavily in the band’s releases following Serpents Of The Light. In comparison to their previous releases like Once Upon The Cross and Legion, the last few albums have somewhat lacked variety, motivation, or -- dare I say -- even effort. It was quite obvious the tension was so great that the band had gotten fed up and chose to rush out the last couple albums to complete the contract obligations and then get the fuck out. They wasted no time, and almost instantly they had found a new and much improved home with Earache Records. And out of the gates they come with Scars of the Crucifix to deliver unto the rest of the world -- yes, I’m about to say it -- their best album EVER. Forget what you know about technical, ruthless, fast and furious Satanic Death Metal. These guys have just rewritten the book.

While building on the groundwork of their familiar relentless brutality that has defined their style in the past, the guys incorporate a new level of unearthly rhythms and riffs that add a new dimension of groove to the music without forsaking the full-blown musical fury the band is most famous for. The knockout punch comes immediately, with the title track starting off and knocking you on your ass like a point blank shotgun blast. Perhaps the coolest, certainly the catchiest, song the band has ever done, “Scars Of The Crucifix” has everything you could want -- the trademark super crisp B.C. Rich guitar sound laying down some incredible riffage, outrageous solos delivered with such celerity your head will spin, intimidatingly brutal vocals, and more of the usual inhuman kit mastery by drummer Steve Asheim. From the first seconds the listener should immediately realize that this is not the Deicide of the last few years. The momentum established in the first song only gains and grows with every song, reaching never-before achieved heights of wicked and relentless Death Metal viciousness. With each song in it’s own right achieving a pinnacle of classic status, the tempo, power and ferocity take the sound to a level of quality that even Deicide have never known. Ripping through amazingly gritty scorchers like “Conquered By Sodom,” “Fuck Your God” and “When Heaven Burns,” each complete with more than their share of ungodly song structures and guitar solos saturated with evil, the breakneck pace hurtles you through just 27 minutes of music yet seems like a suspended eternity of musical proficiency and blasphemous hellfire.

It’s not that Deicide have reinvented Death Metal with Scars OF The Crucifix, but it is safe to say that they have reinvented themselves and the quality of their music. Deicide have struck back hard riding a belligerent wave of chaotic frenzy, and this album is destined to have an incredible impact on the scene for years and even decades to come. Unhindered by social dictations and force-fed Christian expectations, a new era of supremely evil death metal is dawning on the dark horizon, and Deicide are leading the assault with fangs bared and bibles burning. The Scars Of The Crucifix run deep in our society, and Deicide are hell-bent on carving them out.

* * * * ½

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