Deicide – The Stench of Redemption – Review


The Stench of Redemption (Earache)
by Tim Den

I was as shocked as any longtime death metal fan when guitarists Eric and Brian Hoffman quit/were fired from Deicide last year. Not only cuz the band, despite all its Satanic controversy, had never shown signs of internal turmoil, but also cuz they’d remained the one death metal powerhouse that didn’t change members over their long career. So when news of the split came hot on the heels of Scars of the Crucifix – an album that, although ravenous, seemed to only be the beginning of a renaissance – all of us faithful were understandably confused. Why? And why now? But more importantly, will Deicide be able to bounce back from such a devastating setback?

Though we might never truly know the answers to the first two questions, The Stench of Redemption is more than a jaw-dropping reply to the third inquiry. As a fan of 15 years, I shit you not: This is Deicide’s best album since Serpents of the Light. Hell, maybe it’s even better than Serpents of the Light, which would rank it up there with Once Upon the Cross. Yes, I’m saying that Deicide have made an absolutely essential album after so many years of plopping out mediocrity. How is it possible? One listen to The Stench of Redemption and it’s obvious: The addition of guitarists Ralph Santolla (ex-Death, ex-Iced Earth) and Jack Owen (ex-Cannibal Corpse) have injected a much needed revision of approach to the band’s trademark brutality. Sure, the atonal shreds and chugs are still present, but Santolla and Owen have contributed an incredible amount of fluid, melodic lead and riff work to balance out the terror. Halfway through the opening title track and it’s clear: Listen to those dueling leads ascend and descend! Winding up and down an almost classical-sounding progression, it’s hard to believe that this is Deicide we’re listening to. Indeed, the often melodic moments on The Stench of Redemption recall later period Death more than any of Deicide’s previous works, and that’s a great thing. They make the songs catchier without forfeiting any crushing momentum, finally busting Deicide out of its constricting creative shell. But does The Stench of Redemption still sound like Deicide? Of course, especially when drummer Steve Asheim is still writing a ton of the riffs. But make no mistake, the new guitarists have greatly effected Deicide’s identity. And unlike so many long-standing bands’ attempts to replace irreplaceable members, Deicide have actually pulled it off.

All arguments regarding the Hoffman brothers should be laid to rest with this album. Because, in the end, all that matters is that Deicide are back and better than they have been in a decade. The Gods of Darkness are delighted!