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Serpents of the Shite - 20%

The Bard with Bright Eyes, August 3rd, 2022

It's no secret that Deicide went down the 2000's Slayer route of horrible, HC punk-tier bitching, it's just that I think that they went down this route much sooner that it's often believed. The generally accepted opinion is that the first two albums are legendary, Once Upon the Cross is bland and underwhelming, Serpents of the Light is the last gasp of the Hoffman era with every other album of that era being complete shit, Stench of Redemption is a breath of fresh air, and the rest is forgettable at best. My take is that everything from Serpents of the Light onwards is shit, with each album suffering from the exact same problem that plagues Serpents of the Light.

Anti-christianity is a common lyrical topic in metal, and understandably so, but even in 1997, it was done to death and pretty stale. The way Deicide pulled it off is in no way refreshing, creative, or good, for that matter. Lyrics about all sorts of obscene satanic rituals, serial killers, horror movies and demons surging from the depths of the earth are nowhere to be found here. It's all replaced by cringeworthy, bitchy lyrics that read like an attempt of a 15-year-old Redditor who became an atheist one week ago at being edgy (with the music being no different), and are delivered in a manner that makes Slipknot sound profound. This bullshit is so juvenile that it doesn't even work as shock value or anything even temporarily entertaining, let alone anything thought-provoking. Just take a look at one example of what Glen managed to write with his single-digit IQ:

"He fucked himself to save you - put to death, masochist
For this his word berate truth - agonised, prophecised
Revive the book of fiction - blasphemy, gluttony, to deceive you and me
In battled disposition - hang the bitch on the cross
Entitle his convictions - blasphemous, lunatic, your heart is full of hatred -

It's not like me to criticize the lyrics primarily and before anything else, but the music on this album is so generic and derivative that I simply had no choice. Occasional exception aside (and these exceptions are either recycled from the previous three albums and dumbed down, or riffs that merely reach the mark of 'okay' and firmly stay there), the riffs are just a bunch of "rrrr I'm so angryyyyy" tremolos and generic palm-muting that could've easily been written by a computer program (even back in 1997) and are played on exactly three tempos for roughly 98% of the album (fast, slight midpace and 6/8 midpace). There are also completely nonsensical stop-go moments on Blame it on God and Believe the Lie, which most certainly don't make this album any more interesting. If Trey Azagthoth ever wanted to make a half-assed parody of Covenant, he wouldn't use a single riff from this album; that's how dull, mediocre and unimaginative they are. Every song hangs around the three minute mark, has the exact same structure (a song will play two or three riffs in a sequence, repeat them in the same sequence and abruptly end) and the album as a whole is very repetitive (the title track and This is Hell We Live In have the exact same verses while Blame it on God and Slave to the Cross have the exact same chorus, among many other examples of recycling). None of the songs go anywhere; they just exist as fodder for Glen's whining. All of that goes to show just how little effort was put into composing them.

Speaking of Trey, it would be wise to look at what he was doing and thinking at the time. In an interview given at the time of the release of Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, Trey spoke that he was angry at christianity for being forced unto him and limiting his views, and so was attracted to satanism, which he sees as means of destroying christianity's limiting beliefs. So far, we are at Glen's level, and all is okay. But later in the interview, Trey speaks of christianity no longer having hold over him and moving on to doing greater things, which includes contemplating greater ideas, building greater things, and yes, writing greater music. Glen didn't move on (not even after 30 years, which is just sad), and it shows in both the music and the lyrics of this album. It's like a guy who did not get over his ex cheating on him even after several years, and so uses every opportunity to badmouth her to his friends and family; something which they are sorely tired of.

Back to the album. I've already mentioned how the lyrics and their delivery are bad, but I forgot to mention one thing: the vocals. On the first two albums, Glen's unique layering of low gutturals and high snarls evoked the voice of Satan himself. Here, his gutturals sound like a waterfall of diarrhea coming out of the mouth of a homo erectus, while his snarls sound like a parody of Donald Duck. He's not AS awful as on later albums, but he's still pretty damn bad. And these vocals are so in-your-face that it is impossible to ignore them. Same deal with the lyrics which are very clear and discernible, in spite of Glen's excrementitious vocal performance. I hate the "The lyrics and message are more important than the music" idea that some "musicians" have. If you really think so, make a fucking podcast or something and don't pollute the world of music with your worthless trash.

The production is decent, the Hoffman brothers can throw a wicked solo here and there, Asheim is a beast behind the drumkit as usual, the cover is nice (did they predict the "Blue the jew" meme?), but that's about all the praise this piece of shit deserves. At this point in their career, Deicide became a talent vacuum that gave even Iced Earth a run for its money. Not even Ralph Santola's brilliant Olbrich-styled shredding could save The Stench of Redemption (the best post-OUtC Deicide album) since almost every part of that album that isn't a solo is the same generic lowest-common-denominator death metal that Glen has been shitting out since 1997 (the more overt thrash influence does help the matters significantly, but the misplaced melodicism and the general vapidity ultimately ruin the album). Serpents of the Light may technically be one of the better Deicide albums considering how awful their output after it was, but it definitely isn't good on its own, let alone great. Maybe you'll like it if you're immature, angsty and have no standards for death metal (or music in general). I'm way past that phase in my life and I'd rather not revisit it.