overground scene

What happened to us? #1 Deicide and Amon

If I had one penny for every idea I have for a new theme for posts, I would now have… well, three pence. Anyway, this dramatically named new theme will address the topic of classic line-ups breaking up. What better way to start than the departure of the Hoffman brothers from Deicide in 2004.


The Benton-Asheim-Hoffman-Hoffman quartet constituted the line-up whose both incarnations, namely Amon and Deicide, were bound to change the world of extreme music forever. Initially the band named itself Amon and recorded a couple of demos in the late 1980s which had a big impact on the underground extreme metal community. After these two demos they changed the band’s name to Deicide and released a series of phenomenal (e.g. Deicide, Legion, Once upon the cross, Serpents of the light) and some not so good (Insineratehymn, In torment in hell), in my opinion, albums. Deicide developed early on a trademark sound that has either heavily influenced many bands (check out bands that carry on the Deicide legacy such as Centurian) or has been shamelesly copied (check out Pessimist, a pretty good in my opinion Deicide clone) over the years. After the Scars of the crucifix album the Hoffmans were either expelled from the band or quit (Asheim here gives his own account of the situation and Eric Hoffman his account here), for reasons which apparently had to do with financial disagreements (not very brutal of them) and with hating each other’s guts (more brutal of them).

Two are the most important implications of the Hoffmans’ break-up from Deicide: there is now a band called Amon which is not really Amon and a band called Deicide which is not really Deicide.

Although the music in old Deicide records was credited to the whole band, for many years there has been a rumor that Asheim has been the main songwriter in the band. However, listening to Deicide’s output after the Hoffmans’ departure it makes me think that Asheim’s role in the band was something akin to Dio’s role in the bands he played, namely writing the song structures and melodies. While Deicide’s post-Hoffmans albums have, in my opinion, typical song structures (intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus), like in the past and some pretty catchy choruses, they are a bit light on riffs. I personally find the post-Hoffman Deicide, unexciting. While songs like “The stench…” and “Crucified for the innocence“, off the Stench of redemption album and “Severed ties” and “Horror in the halls of stone” off Till death do as part album, are amazing, the rest of the songs miss the amazing “rifforchestration” that Deicide songs had on their first two albums, as well as on Serpents and Scars.

The Hoffman brothers under the moniker Amon released their debut album, titled Liar in wait, last year. I like it more than anything the post-Hoffman Deicide has released. In my opinion there are some pretty amazing songs on this album. Every single song has very impressive and catchy riffs. While the association with early Deicide is apparent, they do not rip-off Deicide. This album is full of riffs and arrangements that would make any post-Legion Deicide album blush! Songs like “Lash thy tongue…”, “Eye of the infinite”, “Sentience and sapience”, “Semblance of man” (with a flavor of Legion) and “Liar in wait” are simply brilliant brutal death songs, where all the elements that make a good song are present: interesting structures, clever arrangements, cool riffs and inventive vocal patterns. The difference between Amon 24 years ago and Amon today is that it’s missing, in songs like “Among us” and “Wraith of Gaia”, Asheim’s skills on how to put a song together and most importantly, Benton’s brilliant  insanity.

While it appears that if we put back together the Hoffmans with Benton and Asheim we could have a pretty amazing band, this is not necessarily the case. For one thing, even with the Hoffmans on board Deicide released two albums that in my opinion suck monkey balls. The chemistry that Deicide had (a great songwriter, a great vocalist and great riff-players) sometimes worked and others it didn’t. Maybe the Hoffmans and Deicide are better off separate after all. In that latter case, I prefer Amon.

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