Deicide - _Till Death Do Us Part_
(Earache Records, 2008)
by: Jackie Smit (9 out of 10)
It would be both ironic yet peculiarly fitting if _Till Death Do Us Part_ were to be, as recent rumours have been suggesting it may, the last we hear from Deicide. Their frankly questionable mid to late-Nineties period aside, the one fact that remains virtually indisputable is that 2006's _The Stench of Redemption_ was the sound of a band who for the first time in nigh on a decade sounded like they gave a damn. It was a record that was brimming with the passion, precision, intensity and menace that had seen Deicide grow to become such an influential force during death metal's formative years; certainly not the type of release you'd expect to be the prelude to their swansong.

But circumstances and indeed people have the ability to change like the weather, and in recent interviews Glen Benton has not only been declaring his distaste for the musician's lifestyle, but has on more than one occasion alluded to the fact that he'd had enough of Deicide's devilish machinations too. Put into context, it's hardly a surprise that this latest opus finds him exploring lyrical terrain which by his own standards should surely be classed as adventurous. Don't be fooled for a second into thinking that this band have lost an ounce of the fire that they demonstrated last time round however. Satan may have taken a backseat to Glen's own personal vitriol, but _Till Death Do Us Part_ rages with a hellish fury that is easily on a par with that of any of Deicide's early classics.

In writing its follow-up, drummer and chief songwriter Steve Asheim has been careful not to create a carbon copy of _The Stench of Redemption_, and while there's still plenty of melody to be found here, much of it comes courtesy of Ralph Santolla's sweeping guitar solos. By contrast, a more sinister, swarthy undercurrent belies the steamroller onslaught of songs like "Hate of All Hatreds" and "Worthless Misery". The tempo is almost consistently frantic, and far more than with any other Deicide record, _Till Death Do Us Part_ demands repeated listens to appreciate the dynamic that Asheim has wilfully injected into its continuum.

Appropriately, the best is saved for last: "Horror in the Halls of Stone" introduces itself with an almost atypically haunting melody, underscored by a groove that screams Black Sabbath. It turns out to be one of the lengthiest songs in the Deicide canon, and almost certainly one of the most cerebral and compelling. Glen's vocals are charged with a visceral urgency and aggression, almost knowingly acknowledging that this could be the last time he steps up to the microphone for Deicide. If that is indeed the case, whether you love or hate them, _Till Death Do Us Part_ leaves little room to argue that they would have bowed at the peak of their powers.


(article published 25/5/2008)

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