It’s been about two years since Deicide’s latest album In the Minds Of Evil has been released to the public, and if you didn’t notice, the band seemed to have gotten a much needed breath of fresh air. This was due to a number of factors, including the addition of guitarist Kevin Quirion but also the production skills of Jason Suecof. The songs are attention grabbing, the production is damn near flawless, and the songwriting is completely focused. As drummer Steve Asheim will bluntly attest to, the static from the previous lineups are pure history. Founding guitarists Brian and Eric Hoffman are long gone, and even one of their replacement guitarists, Ralph Santolla, has hit the highway. ZT’s Doug Palmitier went behind the curtain before the band were due to hit the stage in Houston Texas to catch up with Steve Asheim and Glen Benton.
“There was always chaos with the Hoffmans,” reminisces Asheim from a backstage couch on a rainy December afternoon in Houston, TX. “When that situation changed we got Jack [Owen, ex-Cannibal Corpse] and Ralph. We thought that would be great, but Ralph was never a great fit, he was just a convenient fit for the time. He served his purpose, but he was not a great fit for the lineup or making the band a stable entity. So when we were rid of Ralph and got Kevin, it was really great. Glen was happy with both of the guitarists, and happy with everything in the band, and instead of focusing on all of these other issues, we could focus on the business of doing band stuff, like writing and gigging.” While certain tags like ‘positive, easy, and smooth’ might not come to mind for a band like Deicide, Asheim makes no bones about what Quirion brings to the fold. “Kevin’s very cooperative and easy to work with. He’s a good guy and a fun guy to be around, and a great guitarist. He writes constantly and they’re usually pretty good ideas. Personality-wise it’s very calming and soothing. It’s the final piece of having a stable Deicide relationship after 25 years of not having a stable relationship!”
The band may be well-known for a good handful of non-music characteristics and antics, but with their age and maturity, they’re all concentrating on their music and staying relevant in an age of a constantly changing landscape. Following a December 2015 run of US dates, the band will begin working on a new album come January 2016. With a new stable lineup at play, vocalist/bassist Glen Benton states, with a hint of excitement in his voice, that this new album will be a much more collaborative effort. “Every time we’re in the writing process, at rehearsal once or twice a week, a song comes out. Within ten weeks, a record comes out of it,” explains Benton. “We’re in a thing now where everyone is going to write two songs for the record, possibly more depending on who has what. It’s tedious, but democratic because I want everyone to get equal cuts on everything.” Having been in the death metal game for 28 years, Deicide are certainly at the point where they have to stay on their toes, but still maintain the musical elements they are well known for. “We write with what’s heavy in mind, and what’s catchy,” states Benton. “We’re all our biggest critics, and if we can’t be happy with it, no one else will be. We know when we’ve got a good product. There’s a lot of bands out there that think it’s about getting a 12-year old on facebook blushing your cock on your newest record. But I think we’re inspired by each other to write heavy shit, and we work well together.” As for a possible release date, it’s way too soon to tell. Or as Benton himself put it, “there’s no hurry. What, are we going to hurry up and make a record for everyone to steal it on YouTube?’”
Deicide have no doubt blazed a trail and inspired countless bands during their nearly 30-year span. With each new album comes the task of staying fresh and significant, something Asheim sums up to “vibes, changes, and hooks. There’s enough variations on things to not keep it cookie cutter. We know what we’ve done and we know we have to try to evolve somewhat, and as musicians. Your skills get better and there’s new things to employ, so you can spice it up that way. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel or ditch your formula if it works for you and your fans, but you want to keep bringing something new to it.”
On a personal note, this writer was rather excited to catch Deicide’s live show this time around. My previous experience seeing them live was when they were touring in support of Scars Of The Crucifix in late 2004. It was a strange spectacle to witness seeing as no one communicated with one another onstage, no one looked happy to be there, and their crowd interaction was pretty low. Hindsight being what it is, we all now know that the relationship between the quartet wasn’t the greatest, and it would be just a few months later that the Hoffman brothers would leave the fold and many of the band’s internal issues would come to the public light. Here we are 11 years later, with a new invigorated lineup and a renewed outlook from the band. Deicide hadn’t played in Houston for quite some time, so the crowd was ready and enthused, and the band was ready to deliver.
From the word ‘go’ the band continued to pummel the crowd with a great setlist that included some old-school gems as well as the harder hitting songs from In The Minds Of Evil. Benton and crew hit the stage dishing out four songs non-stop before taking even a slight breather. Fans were treated to older songs like ‘Dead By Dawn’ and ‘Sacrificial Suicide’ in addition to newer songs, including ‘Conviction’, ‘Godkill’, and ‘Thou Begone’. It’s easy to get excited about a new Deicide album, given that the turmoil from before is firmly in the past and everyone seems to have a firm and fixated sense of where they should be going musically. With writing sessions for a new album and a handful of open-air festival appearances being their only focus, we can only speculate on what the band can unleash on us in the very near future, and it promises to be good!
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