Deicide

To Hell with God

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Isn't it ironic how some 20-plus years after introducing Deicide's uncompromising death metal agenda to the world via their debut album's merciless first track, "Lunatic of God's Creation," it is actually bandleader Glen Benton who's become a prisoner of this Satan-worshiping caricature of his own creation? While most of Deicide's original death metal co-legionaries gave themselves enough wiggle room to mature, evolve artistically, or simply grow the f**k up, Benton and his dead-eye-staring bandmates accepted the pressure of continually outdoing themselves in search of the next, most brutal sound and controversial lyric, only limiting their musical horizons in the process. But hey, some people like their death metal just so: more brutal and controversial than the next guy -- and this has helped keep Deicide's career afloat (if occasionally just barely) long enough to see the release of the group's tenth studio platter, To Hell with God (a dig at Stryper's To Hell with the Devil LP, perhaps?), after numerous delays and false starts. Unfortunately, even within the aforementioned limited scope of Deicide's frequently indistinct discography, To Hell with God is a particularly featureless and forgettable collection, the band spewing track after projectile-vomited track of blastbeaten death metal crowned with Benton's familiarly hoarse raving and occasionally sparked by fluid melodic solos from short-tenured guitarist Ralph Santolla. Only its bookends, the opening title track and closing "How Can You Call Yourself a God," plus to a lesser extent the more dynamic "Conviction" and "Hang in Agony Until You're Dead" (how subtle: no guess as to what that one's about!) show any staying power, when all is said and done. Again, mosh-pit lifers who crave such frill-free extreme metal horrors may well be pleased with just that, but in a world where similarly uncompromising death metal bands like, say, Behemoth or Krisiun, can consistently inject variety and imagination into the form -- albeit not without difficulty -- is it wrong to harbor higher expectations?

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