Album Review: Deicide - Bible Bashers [Boxset]
Reviewed by Gareth Pugh
Most metalheads of my age can probably remember when Deicide burst onto the scene, seemingly more controversial, and more extreme than those that had been before with turbo charged Satanic imagery. I mean who can forget that initial image of a demented looking Glen Benton with an inverted cross burnt into his forehead, a man who said he’d kill himself by the age of 33 (Jesus Christ’s supposed age at the time of his crucifixion), but is still alive and well at the rime of writing. To be fair the self-titled debut had it all: blasphemous lyrics, harsh vocals, technical brutal riffs, and intense drumming, and the following sophomore release ‘Legion’ was even faster and more radical. While to top both of those, the third album ‘Once Upon the Cross’ even had a disembowelled Christ on the cover, post-mortem like, which had to be ‘censored’ by the use of a white blood stained sheet, which made it even more provocative. It’s certainly fair to say they had an impact. This third 3-disc box set from Cherry Red Records covers the last 3 releases on Roadrunner Records, the two prior boxsets are covered here - Crucifixion and Once Upon a Time/Serpents of Light.
Disc One on this box set is ‘Insineratehymn’, and by the time this fifth album came out, by the way fourth release ‘Serpents of the Light’ had passed with a fairly lukewarm reception compared to its predecessors. But this was probably the equal of anything released previously. However the Deicide bubble whilst not completely burst, was certainly on the wane. Not only that, but this was also a band that was fighting to survive, death metal isn’t the genre to enter if you want to get rich and on this album the band was using much of its cash advance to merely continue, so it’s safe to say that sort of attitude was going show in the music, and definitely the production, Steve Asheim in particular must have wondered where his drums had disappeared to.
To be fair the album starts off promisingly enough, opener ‘Bible Basher’ (as the actress said to the bishop) is as good as anything they had done hitherto, with rapid tremolo picked riffs interspersed with slower, chunkier parts, and followed by the equally impressive ‘Forever Hate You’, Glen pouring forth all his disdain for a former girlfriend into the lyrics and music backs him up, with some crushingly heavy palm muted riffage and some tasteful yet penetrating lead guitar from brothers Eric and Brian Hoffman. From there on in though, it starts to be a law of diminishing rewards, and many of the songs seem to fall into the same structure, starting off fast, and then slowing to a palm mute chug, but by the time you get to sixth track ‘Halls of Worship’, this sort of repetition does get a bit tiresome. This is still a good Death metal album and at just 31 minutes long it never gets the chance to get boring, and its nice to see the band experiment with slower tempos and some groove, but the quality of the material isn’t quite at the same level as the first four albums.
Disc two is the last Roadrunner release; ‘In Torment In Hell’, and if the cracks were beginning to show on ‘Insineratehymn’, then things were really falling apart by the time they released this, their sixth album. Not only were the band struggling financially, but Benton and Asheim were now in almost open conflict with the Hoffman duo. It’s safe to say that this relationship had a poor effect on the music and that the band wrote and recorded ‘In Torment In Hell’ in double quick time just to fulfil the recording contract. Saying that, this is still Deicide, and even with them treading water somewhat this is a reasonably enjoyable album, again the production is not great, the guitars are OK, but the drums and bass are a bit thin and wishy washy. In fact it was recorded and mixed in four days, now there’s been some great albums made four day or in less time, but this isn’t one of them. Song wise this a band running on autopilot, but they still come up with some strong riffs here and there and one or two songs of merit, the title-track mixes fast and slower tempos, together with a catchy refrain, and ‘Vengeance Will Be Mine’ has interesting serpentine riff and some experimental percussion, but overall, the songs are a bit lacklustre, and even the cover art is below par.
Disc three, the live album ‘When Satan Lives’ completes the Roadrunner collection of releases, although chronologically this should technically be first, as it pre-dates both ‘Insineratehymn’ and ‘In Torment In Hell’, clocking in at 17 songs and 55 minutes, this reads like a ‘Ggreatest Hits’ of the first 4 records, although saying that, second album ‘Legion’ does seem to be underrepresented compared to the other three With only one song present from said album, the excellent ‘Dead but Dreaming’, although there are rumours that the band struggled to perform the songs from said album due to the speed and intensity required, which would explain the lack of presence. Apart for that, most fans will be extremely happy with the tracks on offer, opener ‘When Satan Rules His World’, ‘Lunatic Of God’s Creation’ and the punishing one, two finale of ‘Dead By Dawn’ and ‘Sacrificial Suicide’, my only personal complaint is they don’t play my favourite track ‘Carnage in the Temple of the Damned’, but hey you can’t have everything. The sound is acceptable, the sound is clear, the drums and vocals are distinct, but the bass is somewhat lost, and the guitars do lack a bit of power, and sound a bit 'buzz' like, especially at high speed, but overall this a fair representation of the band in their prime.
Overall, this a fairly good set, Cherry Red has done their usual high quality job and put together an excellent package, I can’t say that it is as essential as the others in this Roadrunner collection series, because the band are definitely not quite in the prime as they were on the first four albums, and I can only really recommend this boxset if you want to complete your collection.