Let's be frank, shall we? 23 years into the band's recorded history, there have been far more mediocre Deicide albums than truly good ones. No one disputes the classic status of the first two records, and even Once Upon the Cross and Serpents of the Light have their fervent admirers… but after that first, fitful decade it's been one helluva tough slog since.
Not that it's been a total wash: 2006's The Stench of Redemption is almost unanimously heralded as a redemptive comeback after a string of half-assed failures that threatened to permanently sully Glen Benton's reputation for good (no mean feat when you consider the guy walks around with an inverted crucifix tattooed into this forehead). And to be fair, with the possible exceptions of In Torment In Hell and Insineratehymn, even the "bad" Deicide records tend to be merely mediocre.
None of that changes the fact that, since The Stench redeemed them, this old school death metal band went immediately back to treading water. Till Death Do Us Part (2008) was as snooze-worthy and uninspired as the album title itself, and while To Hell With God (2011) upped the energy level a bit, there aren't a great deal of memorable songs to be found… nor riffs, really. Let's put it this way: it was just good enough to assume that the next album would suck, since it's been the better part of two decades since Benton and co. strung together two stellar releases in a row.
Now, I'm a "death of the author" kinda guy myself. The recent brouhaha surrounding Benton kicking Broken Hope off of their tour adds absolutely zero to the mystique surrounding the new Deicide album, In the Minds of Evil, for me, so in my case this puppy sinks or swims entirely on its own musical merits; which are… actually pretty good, I suppose.
The fast pacing of To Hell With God has been tempered once again, some degree of energy being lost in the process, but there are admittedly better hooks than anything Benton has been involved with in recent memory. When you're dealing with un-fussy, no frills death metal such as the kind that Deicide purvey, the only relevant question is how many of the songs are worthy of anthologizing on a mixtape.
"In the Minds of Evil" and "Thou Begone" get the album started off something proper, both songs operating at different paces, each having strong central riffs and some of Benton's more commanding singing of the last decade. The minor key atmosphere of "Beyond Salvation" adds a bit of character to the mix, preventing In the Minds of Evil from being yet another generic entry in the Deicide catalog. Any of these would be worthy of being sandwiched between Legion and Once Upon a Cross tracks on a Spotify playlist.
The album falters a bit in the mid-stretches, however, with "Misery of One" and "Between the Flesh and the Void" being pretty much by-the-numbers latter-day Deicide, little aside from solid production and better guitar solos to separate them from anything post-Redemption. Just when you think all inspiration is spent, though, "Trample the Cross" rights the ship again and the band finish out the set in fairly strong fashion.
So, much like the new Motörhead, this Deicide LP seems aimed more at recapturing the kind of diehard fans whose patience were finally starting to grow tested than in bringing casual listeners deeper into the fold. I would still give The Stench of Redemption a slight nod over this one, but it's unequivocally the band's best work since 2006.