Deicide is an American death metal band formed in 1987 by bassist and vocalist Glen Benton and drummer Steve Asheim. The band rose to mainstream success in 1992 with their second album Legion, and is credited as the second best-selling death metal band of the Soundscan Era, after Cannibal Corpse. Since their debut album in 1990, Deicide has released eleven studio albums, one live album, two compilation albums and two live DVDs. In November 2003, their first two albums, Deicide and Legion, were ranked second and third place respectively in best-selling death metal albums of the SoundScan era. Deicide is known for their lyrics, which cover topics such as Satanism, anti-religion and blasphemy. Their lyrics have resulted in bans, lawsuits and criticism from religious groups and the public.
Deicide was formed in Tampa, Florida on July 21, 1987, after guitarist Brian Hoffman called Glen Benton, replying to an advertisement the latter had placed in a local music magazine. Hoffman and his brother, along with drummer Steve Asheim, had previously played together as the band “Carnage”, which was in need of a bassist and vocalist. The new band, called Amon, consisted of Benton (bass and vocals), Hoffman, Hoffman’s brother Eric (guitars) and Steve Asheim (drums). Within a month, they had recorded the Feasting the Beast 8-track demo in Benton’s garage and had started playing the occasional gig in the Tampa area. In 1989, Amon recorded their second demo, Sacrificial, at Morrisound with producer Scott Burns.
Amon’s demos caught the attention of Roadrunner Records and Roadrunner signed the band, who renamed themselves Deicide. Deicide then released their self-titled debut album, also produced by Scott Burns at Morrisound, in 1990. Their debut featured re-recorded versions of all six of the Sacrificial tunes that had secured them their record deal. In 1992, Deicide followed up their debut with Legion. Legion was an instant success, further establishing Deicide’s furious musical intensity and vengeful anti-Christian stance, and securing Deicide’s place at the forefront of the American Death Metal scene.
Deicide’s next studio album came in 1995 in the form of Once Upon The Cross. As if to prove they had no intention of settling down, the band proposed an image of a disemboweled Christ for the album cover. This cover was ultimately censored but not before garnering massive publicity. In 1997, Deicide released Serpents of the Light, followed by a live album, When Satan Lives, in 1998. Throughout the 90’s, Deicide progressively honed their vicious musical attack, reaching new levels of brutality and precision. Deicide defined and redefined the rebellious spirit of Death Metal, and joined that very small and elite group of metal acts to sell over a million records in the process.
2000 saw the release of a new studio album, Insineratehymn, followed by In Torment In Hell in 2001. The latter album marked the end of Deicide’s long contract with Roadrunner. In November 2002, the band signed a new worldwide deal with Earache Records and suffered a whole new wave of controversy around the world at the expense of the dark content of their music. This was content that seeped on to the band’s first record with Earache, Scars of the Crucifix released in February 2004 that came overloaded with a DVD entitled ‘Behind The Scars: Underneath The Skin of Deicide’. This album was a massive success and catapulted Deicide to the top of Earache’s list of highest selling artists in that year.
Both Eric and Brian tended to play technical solos at fast speeds and with overlapping riffs, which gave Deicide the definitive heavy sound and complex song structures. This lineup remained intact until November 25, 2004, in the wake of increasing animosity between Glen Benton and the Hoffman brothers allegedly in regards to royalties and publishing. The Hoffman brothers later went to reform Amon.
Shortly after, the guitar roles were then filled by ex-Cannibal Corpse guitarist Jack Owen, and Vital Remains guitarist Dave Suzuki. Following the tour, Suzuki was replaced by Ralph Santolla, formerly of Death, Iced Earth and Sebastian Bach. Deicide’s eighth studio album The Stench of Redemption (2006) album received rave reviews. On May 24, 2007, it was announced Ralph Santolla had left Deicide. Subsequently, he joined Florida’s Obituary and appeared on their album Xecutioner’s Return as well as on the tour. Then on July 20, 2007, guitarist Jack Owen (ex-Cannibal Corpse) announced that Deicide is “on hiatus” and he joined Ohio based death/thrash combo Estuary for touring purposes.
By November 2007, Deicide began work on its ninth studio album at Florida’s Morrisound Studios. Entitled Till Death Do Us Part, the follow-up to 2006’s The Stench of Redemption promised to be Deicide’s “most savage and aggressive [offering] to date,” according to a press release. It was finally released on April 28, 2008. As the record was coming out, Benton considered retiring from music, in the midst of personal matters including a custody battle.
On January 6, 2009, Deicide had signed a worldwide record deal with Century Media, with Ralph Santolla returning to the band for a European tour. In June 2010, Glen Benton revealed that the next Deicide album was to be titled To Hell with God. It was produced by Mark Lewis at Audiohammer Studios in Sanford, Florida, and was released on February 15, 2011. Deicide released their eleventh studio album, In the Minds of Evil, on November 26, 2013. On October 9, 2014, The Village Voice reported that Deicide has begun working on new material for their next album, which will be released in 2016.
Deicide has received considerable controversy relating to their albums and lyrics, which include vehement anti-Christian themes, such as “Death to Jesus”, “Fuck Your God”, “Kill the Christian”, “Behead The Prophet” and “Scars of the Crucifix”, among others. Drummer Asheim said, “The whole point of Satanic music is to blaspheme against the Church”, “I don’t believe in or worship a devil. Life is short enough without having to waste it doing this whole organised praying, hoping, wishing-type thing on some superior being”.
Most of the controversy surrounded frontman Benton for a rash of shocking interviews and wild statements. Benton has repeatedly branded an inverted cross into his forehead on at least 12 different occasions. During an interview with NME magazine, he shot and killed a squirrel with a pellet gun to prevent any further damage to his electrical system in the attic at the location the interview was held. Often taken out of context, this act garnered negative attention from critics and some animal rights activists.
Benton had professed beliefs in theistic Satanism during Deicide’s early years, claimed to slaughter rodents for fun, and that he held beliefs in demonic possession and that he was possessed. Such statements had eventually been concluded as tongue-in-cheek and little more than sensationalism by band members questioned alternatively. Additionally, Benton claimed in the early 1990s that he would commit suicide at the age of 33 to “mirror” a lifespan opposite that of Jesus Christ (however, he passed that age in 2000 and did not commit suicide, rebutting in 2006 that these statements had been “asinine remarks” and that “only cowards and losers” choose to kill themselves).
In 1992, Deicide was on tour in Europe with Atrocity from Germany and Gorefest, a Dutch death metal band. In Stockholm, during the Gorefest set, a bomb was discovered on-stage. It exploded in the club in which they were playing. Many people blamed animal rights activists who were angered at Deicide’s lyrical themes of animal sacrifice.