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The dire lack of care and effort that first surfaced on the “Once Upon the Cross” and “Serpents Of the Light” duo became complete inertia on “Insineratehymn”, the first of two records widely considered blemishes on the band’s spotty output. In order to get out of the Roadrunner Records contract Tampa, Florida bashers Deicide wrote and recorded two albums in quick succession. The first of these two was “Insineratehymn”, a mere husk of the derivative proficiency that made the band famous. By the late 1990s a multitude of death metal bands across North America and Europe were pushing the genre towards a heavier, technical direction - Deicide wasn’t one of them.

Brief glimmers of past glories remain, yet “Insineratehymn” breaks Deicide’s none too complex songwriting formula down to its basic components. On the whole the record is much slower and groovier than any of Deicide’s prior records. Dissatisfaction with Roadrunner Records added to the mounting tensions in the ranks further eroding the soured relations between Benton and the Hoffman brothers. Much like fellow Tampa genre act Obituary, another band that never truly delivered on its initial promise, Deicide was at the end of its creative rope at the dawn of the millennium. Deicide would never formally split but its apathy towards its output would eventually lead to one of the most notorious (and much publicized) band fractures in recent memory.

The tracks consist of lethargic, largely interchangeable riffing with random, meandering and obligatory sounding solos, crude uninteresting drumming and daft vocals. Glen Benton’s performance is admittedly powerful, and a lot better than an sorry showing like this probably deserves. The Hoffman brothers, usually no slouches in the lead department, barely get by. The soloing does what it is supposed to do, but possess none of the zest and color of the band’s earlier work. ‘Standing in the Flames’, ‘Remnant Of A Hopeless Path’, ‘Worst Enemy’, and ‘Refusal Of Penance’ have decent solos but they can’t hold a candle to the early lead work of the brothers. ‘Standing In the Flames’ forms the blueprint for the last Hoffman album “Scars Of the Crucifix” albeit in a much slower form. Only ‘Biblebasher’ remains a regular live staple, the remainder of the record is, understandably, ignored. The songs on the album aren’t bad in and of themselves given the circumstances wherein they were conceived. They are mere shells of what could have been better, more engrossing songs had the band been giving the opportunity and time to let them gestate and develop the ideas and motifs properly. “Insineratehymn” has the makings of a crude pre-production demo where the structures still needed to be fleshed out in a more meaningful way.

At this point Benton hadn’t yet completely given up, and as such the record isn’t entirely without merit as far as lyrics is concerned. The album title is the most intelligent and creative aspect of the record, as it is a phonetic approximation of “incinerate him”. ‘Bible Basher’ is a far from subtle protest against the Christian minister and the greater subject of organized religion. Sadly Glen Benton still isn’t making any compelling arguments to drive any of his increasingly aggressive rhetoric forward. The Genesis hit single ‘Jesus He Knows Me’ in fact made a stronger case against organized religion and its adherents within a single song than Deicide ever managed in its entire career. ‘Forever Hate You’ is a stylistic precursor to the second post-Hoffman album “Till Death Do Us Part”. ‘Halls Of Warship’ is more than just clever wordplay, and chronicles Christianity’s bloody history of armed global conquest. Likewise is ‘Apocalyptic Fear’ more of an observation on religious fundamentalism than an indictment of Christianity in particular. ‘The Gift That Keeps On Giving’ featured on the hit TV series “The Sopranos” helping boost the band’s profile considerably.

“Insineratehymn”, a record significantly marred by a troublesome conception, was further dealt a second considerable blow by having a troubled recording session that saw the band, much to its chagrin, working with two different producers. The band once again convened at Morrisound Studio to track the rhythm guitars and drums under the aegis of long-time producer Jim Morris. Due to circumstances beyond its control the vocal production along with the recordings for the lead – and bass guitar tracks were done by a different producer. Given the problematic circumstances wherein it was recorded and produced it is nothing short of a miracle that “Insineratehymn” ended up sounding as tolerable as it did.

Cognizant of having been forced into delivering an incomplete and unfinished product no logo or title can be found on the cover artwork. Said cover artwork remains one of Deicide’s better and more enigmatic pieces. The rotational 666 numeric design was rendered by Glenn Orenstein was far more subtle than the artwork of the prior records. It is infinitely more evil and surprisingly profound on an abstract and theoretical level considering Benton’s penchant for rather one-dimensional Satanic rhetoric.

cover-sepultura05“Arise” was the summit of Sepultura’s musical evolution since its inception, and the realization of the sound they had been building towards since “Bestial Devastation” and “Morbid Visions”. It is the most unified and complete Sepultura release in terms of imagery, lyrics, music and presentation – all the pieces fell in place. As the penultimate Sepultura effort it is testament to what the band could have been. From this point onward Sepultura would only deteriorate and regress in every aspect of its being, musically as well as artistically.

The album is evolved in the melodic sense, masterfully paced, and far more controlled sounding than both of its predecessors. It is the logical conclusion of the progression in musicality and technical prowess that “Schizophrenia” introduced. What it loses in riff count it compensates in visceral intensity, memorable hooks and nuanced song arrangements. Of the early Sepultura canon “Arise” is the most ambitious and dynamic in terms of songwriting scope. As a signpost for the end of the band’s early era it was the last to feature long-time studio keyboardist Henrique Portugal in any capacity.

‘Dead Embryonic Cells’, ‘Desperate Cry’, ‘Murder’ and ‘Subtraction’ are easily the most technical cut of the record. “Arise” tones down the sheer amount of riffs per song and the album as a whole, along with the band’s patented speed outbursts, in favor of a more controlled, refined take on their earlier sound. It is a significant change that would inform the band’s decision allowing for the groove metal pandering on “Chaos A.D.” and its eventual follow-up, the band’s creative death certificate “Roots”. On “Arise” the more deliberate pace allows many of the nuances in the songwriting and riffs to come more to the fore. It is the most death metal sounding of all the early Sepultura releases. The synthesizers by Portugal and the Kent Smith produced sound effects enhance the very otherworldly atmosphere. Sadly, it would never be revisited again in the band’s post-Cavalera catalog making “Arise” a unique proposition in that respect.

‘Altered State’ is opened with simulated wind sounds and tribal percussion. ‘Under Siege (Regnum Irae)’ with an acoustic guitar section and quotes two passages of the abbreviated prologue to the controversial 1953 historic novel “The Last Temptation” by Nikos Kazantzakis. The novel was famously adapted for the screen by Martin Scorsese as “The Last Temptation Of Christ” which in turn was sampled by Tampa, Florida death metal act Deicide on its third and most defining album “Once Upon the Cross”. In order to give “Arise” the proper marketing push two promotional videos were shot. Chosen for the treatment were ‘Dead Embryonic Cells’ and the title track. The latter led to its share of controversy as MTV refused to play the video due to its apocalyptic religious imagery. A further high-quality live home video “Under Siege” was shot in Barcelona, Spain during the band’s European tour in support of the album.

Seeing how “Beneath the Remains” was mixed at the renowned Morrisound Studio in death metal capital Tampa, Florida – it was only natural that Sepultura would record its next album at said facility. For “Arise” death metal sound guru Scott Burns manned the console. Of the early Sepultura catalog “Arise” had the best production work. The lead/rhythm guitars sound crunchy and concrete, the bass guitar tone is warm and commanding. The drum tones are full-bodied, organic and warm sounding. The album has the best bass guitar and drum tone the band was ever able to capture. Although credited in the production notes Paulo Xisto Pinto Jr. did not play bass guitar on the record. Andreas Kisser recorded studio bass parts for the album.

That “Arise” is the best produced record of the band’s prime era was in no small part due to the involvement of Scott Burns. Lending their expertise to the product were a number of other respectable figures. For “Arise” artwork by Michael Whelan was commissioned once more. On this canvas Whelan depicts H.P. Lovecraft's Yog-Sothoth, a cosmic deity from the Cthulu Mythos. The bone S that would become the band’s mainstream identifier and their most recognizable sigil is introduced here, as well as the enduring font logo. The old logo that was used up until “Schizophrenia” can still be found in the booklet. The album was mixed at Quantum Sound Studios, Jersey City, New Jersey by Andy Wallace. Wallace would produce “Chaos AD”, this album’s highly divisive successor, at Rockfield Studios in South Wales, England. Howie Weinberg at Masterdisk in New York mastered “Arise”. Kent Smith at Soundsmith Productions was responsible for the sound design and numerous studio effects that can be heard on the album.

As the most death metal sounding of all early Sepultura releases “Arise” is the zenith of the band’s individual and collective skill. Masterfully paced it is where Sepultura found the ultimate equilibrium between death – and thrash metal without doing concessions to either style. Next to being the most unified and complete in terms of presentation “Arise” is the zenith in the band’s early discography as far production work is concerned. Pushing the band to the limits of its capabilities, in both instrumentation and songwriting, “Arise” heralds the end of Sepultura as a death/thrash metal formation. The band would subsequently experience an identity crisis that would eventually fracture it at the height of its popularity. In the aftermath of said split Sepultura would regroup but never reclaim its place within the mainstream metal consciousness outside of its native land.