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A Release So Borderline in the Minds of Mine - 55%

HanSathanas, December 11th, 2013

Not too exciting, not too disappointing. I sort of have this mixed feeling towards Deicide post ‘The Stench of Redemption’ era. Being a fanboy of the band, I should say that the latter release is up there with the eponymous debut and Legion. Anything recorded by the band after those two releases are still damn good too, particularly the bass-heavy ‘Once Upon the Cross’ and the ugly punch in the gut ‘Serpents of the Light’. Up to that point, I still am hopeful that Deicide will dutifully fulfill their fans’ need by perpetuating their trademark blasphemous brand of death metal. No trends. No sellouts. Satan to the bone!

I still considered Insineratehymn as good death metal record of the millennium. There’s nothing fantastic about it except that it is still listenable and memorable unlike its terrible follow up ‘In Torment in Hell’. Bad production, conventional and predictable song structures, plenty of nice tremolo pickings, but that’s all there is to it. With ‘Scars of the Crucifix’, the Hoffman brothers do come up with some fucking heavy riffs, especially on the album title track and the Satan-loving anthem ‘When Heaven Burns’. Those two songs stand out on their own. The rest is just fillers, evidence of a band that is already running low on creativity, like an old freight train sighing black smoke after years of self-inflicted abuse. When the Hoffman brothers quit the band after ‘Scars…’, I may not be the one who questioned the overall future of Deicide. Will they ever be the same? Are we seeing the beginning of an end for Benton and fellow marksman Steve Asheim? It’s a decision that disappoints me quite a bit at first, knowing that both Eric and Brian are highly talented guitarists in their own special way. It doesn’t matter who’s the bad guy, the future of one of my favorite bands is stake here! Thank God, or thank Satan, that Benton and Asheim decided to hire Ralph Santolla and Jack Owen, big surprise. Since it is known before that Owen appears to lose interest in metal as seen in Centuries of Torment DVD where he just plays guitar with heart and mind void of passion and enthusiasm. Of course, ‘The Stench of Redemption’ is an album that will always be my favorite after the first four. Owen and Santolla showcased a level of musicality previously unheard of in Deicide; abundance of melodic and catchy riffs that always make me hum to each song in the album. Alas, this brief return to form is cut short by two crappy follow ups. Enough said.

Like I said, I don’t have much excitement and hope in anticipation of ‘In the Minds of Evil’. My guess is that this record is just a continuation of ‘To Hell with God’, and right I was. With Santolla’s gone, he is replaced by Kevin Quirion. While he does add some quite nice touch on this album, but you know, that’s just all about it. Don’t you just love it when bands say that ‘this is the best record we’ve ever done so far?’ I think a lot of bands say that before releasing a new album. It’s just a self-comforting, damage control remark that tries to reassure long time fans that they won’t suck, going as far as to compare to the band’s magnum opus ‘Legion’. That record, ladies and gentlemen, is beyond comparison. It’s the holy grail of death metal like other notable releases of its era. But In the Minds of Evil? Seriously? Generally, the riffs are less powerful. It’s not even remotely similar to those written in ‘Once Upon the Cross’, a great album that many fans considered to be the end of Deicide Satanic death metal aural assault. Still, the rhythm progression is somewhat less predictable and the solos are still good to my ears. No wankery, no excesses, just straight up evil lead works. They serve quite a good purpose as enhancing the overall atmosphere of the album and set the tone for each song. In one sitting, listening to this album without looking at the tracklist gives me the feeling of déjà vu. You know, I’ve heard this before. I’ve heard this on the previous tracks. This is also another problem of this record that prevents me from fully enjoying it; each song sounds the same! Damn man, at least ‘Insineratehymn’ has a little bit of variation in it but this record reeks of familiarity, and that for me, is not a good thing. The clean production doesn’t help much either. While it allows us to independently verify the existence of each instrument played and the clear, vibrant evidence of each band member’s contribution, this too doesn’t seem to cut it. The overall sounds lack a punch and the bass is stretched too thin on this record. Oh boy, this part alone is disappointing on so many levels. Perhaps I don’t have a good loudspeaker but what the hell; even ‘Serpents of the Light’ has some grating bass end to it. And no, the cymbals are too metallic they sound inorganic, rather artificial or near computer generated. I have no problem with how each member plays, like Steve Asheim who, after all these years he still has the stamina and ferocity despite forgetting what his name was during one occasion (those who watched his brief drum tutorial video on YouTube would get the idea!).

Gone is the annoying multi layered shrieks in favor of straightforward guttural blasphemy by Benton. That is something that I considered a good move. After all, I’m already tired of his demonic shrieks that seem to be all over the place in ‘Scars of the Crucifix’. The lyrics? Oh let’s not talk about that, Benton is still writing about pretty much the same thing so it’s nothing new to us fans of Deicide. The only tracks that stand out to me are ‘Kill the Light of Christ’ and ‘End the Wrath of God’. I can feel quite a significant amount of energy being channeled by these two titles. On ‘Kill the Light of Christ’, Deicide flirted with melodic entrance before plunging deep into the abyss of hell like they always do. ‘End the Wrath of God’ is reminiscent of ‘Desecration’ from ‘Stench…’ but too bad, this song is actually good and yet it is rather short. I understand if the band purposely keeps it short and sweet to avoid unnecessary damage like what they did on previous two full lengths. The solos are awesome and holy shit, the riff is surprisingly good (but not great) to back up the leads vice versa. Nevertheless, the album closes as the wrath of God comes to an end.

Being a long time fan of Deicide since the 90s, I wanted to give this album a higher rating but I believe there’s still much work to be done. Plus, I wasn’t expecting ‘Legion V.2’ or another ‘Stench…’. This is fact and I have to accept it, and so will you that Deicide while still doing fine in the business, are not going to do anyone any more surprises. In the Minds of Evil has some good moments, but the songs are generally forgettable save for the last two. The absence of multi layered shrieks is a blessing because had Benton decided to employ such techniques, it would make this record a hundred times worse than any LP they put out so far, including the ridiculous ‘In Torment in Hell’. So this album is a good addition for completists like me, but for those who actually have MA or Phd. in extreme metal, you may want to avoid this record at all cost.