A lot of musicians promise a kick-ass return if their last disc proves lackluster. Sadly though, once they’re going downhill, their new album doesn’t do much for their fans either. Thankfully, in Deicide’s case, The Stench of Redemption more than meets the expectations, just as Glen Benton had promised.
This has partly to do with the renewed lineup of the band. Long-time guitarists Eric and Brian Hoffman left the band in 2004 for personal reasons, and even though it was they who played on some of Deicide’s most important releases, their departure has certainly motivated the rest of the band in a positive way. New guitarists, Jack Owen (ex-Cannibal Corpse) and Ralph Santolla (ex-Iced Earth, Death), have breathed new life into the band’s music. The writing is tight and the performance rock-solid. If you like Benton’s vocals and bass playing, there’s no chance you will be disappointed here. Drummer Steve Asheim hasn’t played like this for years. The album features crushing blast beats galore that won’t let go from start to finish. The guitar tandem’s barrage of direct riffage is grim yet melodic. Santolla’s sense of melody seems to have been carried over; except that he hasn’t played this fast and vicious in a long time. Both players lay down impressive solos, but it is their twin guitar harmonies and unison leads that make this album a real winner. This is one of the heaviest albums of the year, but it’s all done within a melodic blueprint and an understanding of harmony. Besides the head-spinning shred fest on the title track, the duo also offer a mighty twin guitar riffage and complex stop-start moments.
Other highlights include the monstrously epic opening of “Desecration”, complete with raging growls and fast, melodic guitar runs, as well as some vague Nile-like eastern scales; the totally unapologetic “Homage for Satan”, a song that recalls the band’s earliest material in that it is relentlessly bleak and heavy; and the superb acoustic guitar resolution on the final song “The Lord’s Sedition”, which is not too common on a Deicide disc. The gloomy, atmospheric intro slowly builds to a mesmerizing twin guitar harmony that is both rich in numerous chord changes and rich melodic signatures. It almost feels like an excerpt from Ralf Santolla’s solo album yet it fits the rest of the songs excellently. Once that melody is brilliantly executed, the band dives headlong into crushing aggression, highlighted by thick rhythms and wall-of-sound drums.
This is one of the best albums Deicide have released in a long time. I hope they continue to make more music with their current lineup. US death metal doesn’t get better than this.