Deicide The Stench of Redemption

Fan outcry over the departure of founding guitarists Eric and Brian Hoffman from Tampa’s Deicide has naturally given more momentum to the death metal pioneers’ latest album. With the band’s new recruits, Cannibal Corpse’s Jack Owen and Death/Iced Earth/Sebastian Bach Band’s Ralph Santolla, The Stench of Redemption is being fêted as a colossal return to form on the level with 1992’s Legion. "Death to Jesus” is even more incensed than the opening title track, and bassist/vocalist Glen Benton’s abhorrence for everything holy is brandished in "Homage for Satan.” But the record’s true highlights come courtesy of the new blood: Owen and Santolla trade furious licks in "Crucified for the Innocence” and "Desecration,” the latter featuring Santolla’s melodic goth soloing akin to Discouraged Ones-era Katatonia. Their Morbid Angel muse rears its slimy head in "Walk with the Devil in Dreams You Behold,” along with sustained Obituary-styled riffs. "Never to Be Seen Again” is finished off by a Megadeth-like flourish, surrendering to the Testament-like thrash flash of album closer "The Lord’s Sedition.” Santolla’s sense of harmony totally rejuvenates Benton’s dense death metal, and even though it’s unfortunate that the Hoffman brothers parted company, this couldn’t have been a better move for Deicide. The Stench of Redemption ably bridges the bifurcation between the old school and neo-death. (Earache)