Album Review: Deicide – Banished By Sin

Album Review: Deicide - Banished By Sin
Reviewed by Gareth Pugh

After an almost 6-year hiatus, the evil ones are back! Yes, it really has been that long since the last Deicide album, we’ve had a pandemic, and several wars since then of course! So, the unholy duo of Glen Benton (Bass/Vocals) and Steve Asheim (Drums/Songwriting/Guitars) are still the ever present core, together with longtime collaborator Kevin Quirion (Guitars) who has been with the band since 2008 in one capacity or another, whether as live musician, or as since 2011, a full time active member, but there has been one alteration in the guitar team, out goes Mark English (amicably it has to be said), and in comes Taylor Nordberg with his impressive résumé, Inhuman Condition, Massacre, Ribspreader, to name but a few of his bands, past and present.

‘Banished By Sin’ is the bands thirteenth album, and it's no secret that while Deicide have a deep back catalogue, there are a few question marks about the quality of some albums contained within it. Few will question the first two albums, the classic self-titled debut and “Legion”, or even albums three or four, “Once Upon the Cross”, with its wonderfully controversial cover, and “Serpents of the Light”. It was only then that the cracks started to show, with the poorly conceived “Insineratehymn” and the undoubtedly weak “In Torment in Hell '' being career low points. They did manage one last hurrah with the classic line-up with “Scars of the Crucifix” before the Hoffman brothers were ousted. The band returned with a brand-new guitar duo of Jack Owen (ex-Cannibal Corpse) and (the now sadly deceased) Ralph Santolla (ex-Obituary), on rhythm and lead respectively, and this reworked and revitalised line-up, fashioned a real high point in “The Stench of Redemption”. Unfortunately, the band wasn’t able to maintain this level of quality for the follow up, the distinctly lukewarm ‘To Hell with God’, and by the time the much improved “In the Minds of Evil” arrived, Santolla had departed, to be replaced by the aforementioned Quirion, who re-energised the songwriting, and by the time of ‘Overtures of Blasphemy’, with Owen replaced by English (ex-Monstrosity), the band was back to somewhere near its brutal best.

Album Review: Deicide - Banished By Sin

So, let’s take a closer look as to where ‘Banished By Sin’ slots into this discography, quality wise. Starting as they mean to go on, with the brutal ‘From Unknown Heights You Shall Fall’, and after the chugging intro, it’s short, sharp, repeating riff soon drills its way into your brain, Benton is on top form and his demonic bark sounds as heavy ever, and those patented triple tracked vocals, with the low and highs working together, really stand out. ‘Doomed to Die’ and ‘Sever the Tongue’ are both super catchy, with massive hooks, the former with relentless tremolo picking and blast beats, the latter with its start/stop, staccato beat, and remorseless riffing. The band have hit a real sweet spot with this album, continuing the quality of ‘Overtures of Blasphemy’, and with every song around the 3 to 3½ minute mark, the songwriting is efficient and compact, with each member contributing three songs, so there’s plenty of variety, whether it’s the technical sorcery of Quiron, the memorable hooks of Benton or the more progressive elements of Asheim, and not forgetting the versatility, power and enthusiasm of new boy Nordberg.

The band self-produced this time at Smoke & Mirrors Productions, with Jeramie Kling and Nordberg (a man of many talents) engineering, and they couldn’t have done a better job, this is quite possibly the best production Deicide has ever had, it’s heavy, dynamic, and brutal, yet also as clear as crystal, and Glenn’s bass is much more audible than previous albums and it’s great that we hear more of his underrated playing. I’ve been listening to this album for the last 2 or 3 weeks and there’s not a weak track here, and I have had a different favourite track every few days; the ferocious, epic title track, ‘Faithless’ with its sweeping melodic intro, the hooky, chunky ‘Woke from God’ and current fave; ‘Ritual Denied’ with its vigorous rhythms, and fast/slow structure, all have had their turn as top tune, but there’s really not a weak track to be heard.

I’m very happy to report that ‘Banished By Sin’ easily sits in the upper echelons of the Deicide discography, it’s not quite as awesome as the unholy trinity of “Legion”, the debut or “The Stench of Redemption”, but it sits just below those three death metal classics, and I have the feeling with further listens it might even rise to compete with those masterpieces. I really can’t praise this album high enough, this truly is a devilish delight.

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