Glen - You Are Forgiven
Deicide, Arkhon Infaustus and Ted Maul @ The Mean Fiddler, London, 29 November 2004
by: Jackie Smit
It's a curious sight: I've barely landed at the doorstep of the Mean Fiddler for what Glen Benton strolls past me, a devilish grin plastered across his face, as he surveys the sizeable cluster of fans gathered outside, braving the cold to be first in the door this evening. Ironically, when I clock in to conduct what is my fourth attempt at an interview with the Mr Benton, I am told by his tour manager that he is "feeling ill and is completely incapacitated". Could this recurring mystery ailment perhaps be what I believe is referred to as "cuntalitus"?

Never mind that though, because topmost on the agenda this evening is seeing how the band are fairing without the aid of its chief axeslingers -- Eric and Brian Hoffman -- who have been fired / left of their own volition (depending on whose side of the story you want to believe). Drafted in as their replacements are Benton's Vital Remains buddy, Dave Suzuki, as well as erstwhile Cannibal Corpse six-stringer, Jack Owen.

But first, there's Ted Maul -- a local death metal troupe who apparently have some fairly prolific friends in Akercocke and Labrat. Their music is pretty decent as well; an inventive blend of death and black metal, with a liberal dose of hardcore for that bludgeoning beatdown effect. What they lack in on-stage charisma, the band certainly make up for in technical ability. Given some additional experience, the future could look very bright indeed for these youngsters.

Which is more than one can say for France's Arkhon Infaustus, unfortunately. A tale of chronic underachievement if there ever was one, the first thing to go wrong in the band's set happens before they've even played a note. One equipment malfunction later, and they dig into a set comprised mostly of tracks off their latest _Perdition Insanabilis_ snoozefest. Poor sound production certainly doesn't help their cause any, but the truth of the matter is that they have zero on-stage presence, no real sense of showmanship to speak of and not a single memorable tune. This is not be the most unpalatable racket I have ever heard in my life, but when, like me, you have suffered through a Johnny Truant set, that's not saying much.

With the Deicide camp in a state of perpetual disarray, a seemingly inebriated Glen Benton stumbles on to the stage and eyes his troops with the look of a weathered war veteran. A greeting is issued, reciprocated with a measured roar of approval from the audience, perhaps the product of the uncertainty in the newcomers' ability to cut the mustard. It takes only the first few bars of "Scars of the Crucifix" for the capacity crowd to realize the score, though. It may seem strange, but on the evidence provided by tonight's performance, Suzuki's appointment could very well be the lifeline that ultimately keeps Deicide from imploding completely. He performs the likes of "Children of the Underworld", "Bastards of Christ", "Dead by Dawn" and "Crucifixation" like a man possessed, even providing some needed backing vocals that add an enhanced sense of brutality to the already harsh cocktail. Occasionally Glen glances at his new protégé, a proud smile on his face that might break the tension of tracks like "Serpents of the Light", "Once Upon a Cross" and "Lunatic of God's Creation", but lends a sense of occasion to the evening that is undeniable.

Not to be outdone, Steve Asheim and Jack Owen play it like they own it, tearing through nearly an hour and forty five minutes of favorites, that also include the rarely aired "Christ Denied" and "Behind the Light Thou Shall Rise". And when it's over, the satisfied look on every punter's face says it all -- Deicide's future may hang in the balance, but if only for tonight, the spirit of 1990 was alive on the Mean Fiddler's stage once again.

(article submitted 31/12/2004)


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