DEICIDE’s Glen Benton: Darker and More Brutal Than Ever

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Death Metal icons , who released such infamous albums as Legion, Once Upon the Cross, Serpents of the Light, and their self-titled debut, were formed by drummer Steve Asheim in 1987. They were one of the bands, along with greats like Morbid Angel and Obituary that put Tampa, Florida on the map as a place for more than humid weather, but also as a death metal mecca. With a 30 year career under their belt, a tumultuous history, and many lineup changes, have returned with their 12th studio album entitled Overtures Of Blasphemy. The album is certainly the uncompromising extreme metal masterpiece it was promised to be and further solidifies them as death metal legends. ’s current line-up consists of Glen Benton on vocals and bass, Steve Asheim on Drums, and Kevin Quirion and Mark English on guitars. On July 16, 2018 released the lyric videos for Excommunicated, a punishing, but riff heavy song. They then released Overtures Of Blasphemy on September 14th, 2018 to stellar reviews. Metal Injection proclaimed that it is on its way to becoming Death Metal Album of the year. They also just released a video for Defying The Sacred, which was directed by Scott Hansen. He had previously directed videos for Animals as Leaders and Whitechapel. The clip is like a mini horror movie which depicts a witch hunt of sorts where everyone dies brutally at the end.

We spoke with controversial lead singer Benton about the album’s release and he had this to say: “The records doing great, someone just contacted me a little while ago and said something about we’re #1 on Liquid Metal right now on Sirius radio. So, that’s exciting. We just cracked the Top 10 last night on Metal Downloads, so yeah it’s wonderful thing. It’s nice to have this kind of success late in life.” After thirty years, it is rare for a band to still be this brutal in their delivery. Clearly, Benton is not one of those people that mellows with age. Benton adds, “No, I’m like vinegar. I would say I’m darker now than ever. What I’ve been through has definitely darkened my heart and soul over the years.”

It has been five years since the last Deicide album In the Minds of Evil was released. Five years between records may seems like a long wait, but Benton explains that it was worth it: “This album came together over time, meaning we didn’t want to rush it. A few people might remember an interview where Steve Asheim said ‘the material is done, but it’s just not there yet.’ Well, that was the jumping off point of when this album truly started taking shape and the songs became what they are now…complete, compact and effective. As the band pushed forward, so did the writing process and a few other processes, which made the record and the band stronger. We just kinda just took our time with the whole process, touring, the whole studio thing. The fans have gone a long time without something solid as far as a release, so we wanted to put something out there that was solid that people can be excited about.”

Overtures Of Blasphemy was recorded at Audio Hammer Studios in Sanford, Florida and produced by Jason Suecof, who has also worked with The Black Dahlia Murder and Trivium among others. Benton had this to say about the experience: “Jay’s a good guy, he knows our sound, he knows what we want and he pushes me to perform better and to give it the best performance, for everybody in there. He’s a great teacher musically, all the way around. He just pushes me to do my best. Suecof lent his considerable talents and attention to detail in making the tracking of the songs as great as they can be and the final mix as sonically brutal, yet as listenable, as possible. An arduous process, but one well worth the time and effort.”

Overtures Of Blasphemy is relentless and brutal in its delivery, but it also has a groove to it. Benton describes, “I just told everyone let’s keep this thing simple and catchy, keep the groove and focus on that. I mean it’s like I can put my voice on anything and make it sound heavy.” As far as his vocal style, Benton does the death metal growls as one would expect, but always with a precise, understandable delivery. Benton describes, “yeah pronunciation is definitely a key to it. I mean, it makes it a little more listenable. I’m not a big fan of music I can’t understand. I like to be entertained. I like music that makes me move, that grooves me. You know what I mean? You hear that hook, yeah that’s what I like, I like music that’s catchy.”

It may seem strange to mention “groove” when one is discussing death metal, but in Deicide this is an important element to the music. It is what makes it more than “a bunch of noise” as many laymen think death metal is and separates Deicide from the pack in Benton’s opinion. Benton elaborates on the importance of originality in Deicide’s music: “Well, the music business has kind of been a little stale lately, so going into this whole process we were all on the same page of where we need to take this. I mean we are all music fans ourselves besides being musicians and we wanted a record that we could enjoy too. Not a lot of bands are focusing on making people happy, they’re more focused on staying the one dimensional ‘dundundundun’ cookie monster thing. For me, if I don’t enjoy this, I can’t do it. I’m at that point now where I say ‘lets just write music we enjoy doing.’ I mean you can only listen to an album that’s all just that ‘junjunjunjun,’ that fast beat. It never deviates from that. It just goes slower or faster, and then that just that one ‘junjunjunjun.’ After about ya know one or two songs of that it kinda loses a person. It gets to a point from start to finish that’s all it is, there’s no nothing there. I use those kinds of examples to create what we do and stay away from that. I mean going around and redoing shit that’s already been done that’s just never been my style. I’ve always said that I’m an innovator not an imitator.”

Glen Benton

The cover art on Overtures Of Blasphemy is by Zbigniew M. Bielak who has also done covers for Ghost, Paradise Lost, and Mayhem. The cover features skulls, upside down crosses, creepy hands and intricately dark imagery in stark red, black and white tones, but it is more than just something to shock people, it is a real work of art. Benton describes how Deicide came to work with Bielak who is a fan of the band: “He contacted our guy at Century Media and showed interested in doing the new album cover and they put me in contact with him. I gave him my ideas and he took my idea and threw his interpretation to it and that’s what you have.” In our digital age, many people don’t pay attention to cover art, but to Benton it is a key factor: “Yeah it’s a very important process the album artwork, not many people know that if you got a shitty album cover, man, it really kills the record. I think that’s why vinyl’s coming back strong now is because people want that big piece of artwork to look at.”

As far as writing music to cater to the fans, that is definitely not Deicide’s style. Benton declares, “Well they know [the fans] that they can depend on me. They they know I’m going to give them a quality product. I mean they all can’t be winners, but, for the most part at least, our fans know we are trying. I stopped reading the reviews a long long long time ago, so I really don’t keep on it that much. Like, I see the YouTube videos, when they released them, and I notice you get like 5000 thumbs up and 160 thumbs down. Well I mean that 160 thumbs down, if you take out all the people that hate me on a personal level, take those thumbs out of there, ex wives, ya know, Corey Taylor, all the other people in the business, if you take all those people out of the equation, you’d probably cut that down at least in half and now you only have a very small amount of people that are just one dimensional. I don’t know, I guess, like I said, many people try to be hard or whatever, but I would rather write my music for the other 5000 thumbs up. I just say with this record it’s one of those kinds of albums that you need to give it a few listens. Listen to it several times before you go giving an opinion because you might have to eat your words. So I tell these one dimensional people, you know all they want is that first Deicide album, it’s like they want me to relive that for them 30 years later and that I was a kid then ya know so, they’re just stuck, you have that crowd that wants that one dimensional snare drum and vocal.”

He goes on to say “every record for me is a personal experience, a reflection of the years between records and that stuff that you gain from personal experience and stuff like that. I don’t know, I have a very tormented and twisted life, if you think about the lyrics. It’s just, you’ve got to keep changing man, you can’t keep repeating yourself. Everybody wants to reflect on the past. I don’t reflect on the past. I’m always staring into the future. I don’t look backwards, I look forward. If you’re one of those type of people constantly looking backward, you’ll find yourself hanging from a strap inside your closet. I didn’t really like the past. I’d much rather look forward to the future. The past wasn’t that great, that’s why they call it the past.”

When asked what it feels like to be a legendary controversial figure in death metal music, Benton laughs: “I don’t know how that feels, I really don’t. I have a 17 year old that’s driving me crazy right now, so I don’t know.” One night wonder if his sons listen to death metal. To this he replies, “My older son does. My younger son he likes everything, but my older son is a shredding guitar player. I don’t know how much death metal he’s into, but he’s an amazing guitar player.”

As far as touring, Deicide is known for being a punishing live act that is never mediocre. Benton assures fans that a tour is in the works: “I’ve actually been off for a year now, so I’ve been taking a break. I’ve taken a year off so we could finish the record, and our agents are looking at it. We wanted the record to get out and circulate it, so everyone knows the lyrics, so when we come out everybody can sing along and agents are working on all that booking stuff right now…”

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