Deicide - Once Upon The Cross
Roadrunner Records
Death Metal
9 songs (28:12)
Release year: 1995
Deicide, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Shane
Archive review

Deicide is a band that pulls no punches and uses no subtleties when trying to get their message across. And that message is a simple message that is clearly evident by just viewing the track listing of any album they have ever done. Now, whether how much of this anti-Christianity attitude is actually genuine and how much is actually just a gimmick, is open for debate. I have read that Vocalist/Bassist, Glen Benton insists that his beliefs are in fact genuine, but people will say strange things for attention. None of this really matters to me though, as what is really important is the quality of the music, and in this aspect, Deicide delivers certain aspects that are vital to death metal and they deliver it extremely well. Unfortunately, just like the constant anti-Christian theme contained in every song, Deicide is a one-trick pony, whom offers little depth or variety.

The album starts off strong with the title track that features several cool parts thanks to the powerful barking of Glen Benton. Before the first verse, Benton’s voice slowly gets louder and louder as he chants “Fear him, fear him, fear him…Satan” and it sounds totally cool. When he multi-tracks his vocals, he creates a huge sound that is extremely powerful and I think that Glen’s vocals are a definite strength of the band, as they essentially drive every song.

Steve Ashiem’s drumming is another strength as he does more than just the standard death metal drumming of double bass work on top of pounding the snare as fast as humanly possible (He does this too, of course, but it’s practically a requirement of this kind of music). Ashiem often switches up the tempo and bridges them with creative drum fills which adds much needed variety to each song. His drumming also keeps the band sounding extremely tight, and it doesn’t hurt that the production on this album is excellent and crisp.

The guitar work of Eric and Brian Hoffman is capable but not spectacular. This is probably due to the rather simple song structure that keeps each song short and sweet. Perhaps if the songs were longer, Eric and Brian would have the time to do more than just blaze riffs as fast as possible with their solos seeming like an after thought. Not only do their solos all sound fairly similar on this album but they often sound like a poorman’s version of the solos on Slayer’s Reign in Blood album.

Christ Denied is the second track and it is decent but nothing special, as it lacks a cool chorus. This problem is fixed by the next track, When Satan Rules His World, as it not only features a killer catchy chorus but some shocking lyrics as well. Any song that has the balls to call Jehovah a whore and any song that talks about defecating on the bible has to be mentioned. Needless to say, this song is classic Deicide.

The next track, Kill the Christian is just as aggressive and intense as the song’s title is. What really makes this song special is the chorus where Benton gets the most out of multi-tracking his vocals and creates a huge sound as he chants “Kill the Christian, Kill the Christian!”. The lyrics spew anger and Benton’s convincing performance almost causes you to wonder if maybe he isn’t just seeking publicity with his outrageous lyrics and image. It truly is a powerful song and it is my favourite offering off of this album.

Unfortunately, after you have heard the first four tracks off of this album you have heard all that this album has to offer and all that makes this album special. The rest of the album is just more of the same with no surprises. Unless you can’t get enough of what you have already heard, there really isn’t much reason to listen to the rest of the album, as nothing is really that special. Sure, the rest of the songs are decent but they just don’t offer anything new or memorable, as by this point, Deicide has already shown you their whole bag of tricks. It is unfortunate that the rest of the songs aren’t as special as the first four (or at least don’t seem like it after hearing the first four) because if they were, then this album would be an all-time death metal classic. It is a good thing that this album is so short because it doesn’t really have a chance to get all that boring. Unfortunately, when you have to say that it is a good thing that the album is short, how good can the album really be?

Killing Songs :
Once Upon the Cross, When Satan Rules His World, Kill the Christian
Shane quoted 72 / 100
Other albums by Deicide that we have reviewed:
Deicide - Legion reviewed by Tony and quoted 94 / 100
Deicide - To Hell With God reviewed by Tony and quoted 90 / 100
Deicide - Serpents Of The Light reviewed by Goat and quoted 81 / 100
Deicide - Deicide reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Deicide - Till Death Do Us Part reviewed by Dylan and quoted 62 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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