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Death Metal Supremacy: Tribute to Deicide's Legion and Demigod's Slumber of Sullen Eyes

Death Metal Supremacy: Tribute to Deicide's Legion and Demigod's Slumber of Sullen Eyes

by Luxi Lahtinen

1992 was a truly fertile and great year for death metal with many groundbreaking albums released that year, some considered true classics by death metal maniacs around the world.

One of those fine albums is the often talked about Legion, released in March of '92 by infamous Jesus-butchers Deicide from Tampa, Florida and the second is from Demigod, whose debut album, Slumber of Sullen Eyes, came out in November of that year.

We here at The Metal Crypt decided to pay tribute to these gigantic death metal masterpieces and asked a bunch of musicians for their take on Legion and Slumber of Sullen Eyes.

All interviews by Luxi Lahtinen

Can you remember when you heard Legion and Slumber of Sullen Eyes for the first time and your initial thoughts were?

Matti Mäkelä (CORPSESSED): With Deicide, it must have been around '95. I was 13 years old, and I remember that Once Upon the Cross was already out when I was introduced to the band and got their first three albums at the same time including, of course, Legion! Deicide was one of my first introductions to the genre of death metal, and I still worship their early material and think it is still some of the best death metal ever done. I love all of the first three albums, but it perhaps depends on the day if I consider the debut or Legion their best.

With Demigod it must have been a bit later, perhaps somewhere around '02 when I started digging deeper into what I had missed from the Finnish death metal underground scene of previous years. Mind you, I was perhaps five years late to the party and, by '95, Finland had already shifted into black metal territory. Regardless, Demigod's demos and the debut album impressed me a whole lot when I finally got my hands on them, and I consider them classics today.

Rozel Nikolaj Leaño (FORMLESS OEDON): I can't remember the exact year, but sometime in the late 2000s is when I first heard Demigod's Slumber of Sullen Eyes and Deicide's Legion. I was already into the heavier and more underground stuff by then, all thanks to the bootlegging community that was prevalent at the time in our country. Foreign underground media rarely made it to the Philippines back in the day, so you had to rely on older dudes with connections outside the country and your bootlegging skills with tapes and CDs! But yeah, as soon as I managed to snag official versions of these albums it was phenomenal to hear them vividly for the first time, as bootlegs tend to be of shitty quality.

Leimy (RECKLESS MANSLAUGHTER): You totally hit the nail on the head with both albums for me and I will tell you why... ;)

Deicide: Oh yes, I remember well! It was Christmas 1999 when I was 16 years old! I put that album on my wish list because I read so much about this infamous band, but never heard anything about it (it was a dark time for death metal). I told my mother, while browsing through the recent offers of the then still cool mailorder EMP, that I must have Legion as a Christmas present (together with other Roadrunner dead stocks like Suffocation's Breeding the Spawn, but that's a different story...). I got it on x-mas eve, and I put it in my Discman and was totally fascinated by the mega evil intro and that brutal beginning. The total demonic presence of Glen Benton's voice was otherworldly, and it was the most evil stuff I'd heard so far! I had friends who thought the newest stuff from Satyricon, Emperor and Dimmu Borgir was evil, but now I was laughing about them. :D

The pure definition of evil and their most infernal and satanic album to this day!

Demigod: It was some time in 2006 when I finally got my hands on this fantastic album when Xtreem Music did the first reissue. I heard about the band via the cover of "Reincarnation" by Fleshcrawl on their great Impurity album. It was difficult to find a first press copy or mp3 because there was no Discogs or YouTube and even Napster was dead. There was only eBay and even then this awesome album was quite expensive! I was really happy when I got my order together with a t-shirt and I was totally blown away by this genre-defining album! I never heard anything like it before and after. Slumber of Sullen Eyes is a culmination of diversity because this album is heavy, brutal, melodic, atmospheric, technical and catchy all at once! I immediately knew this was a classic and I didn't understand why nobody was talking about it and why they didn't get bigger (the same happened to me with Demilich, who I also discovered via Fleshcrawl a year before, but this is also another story). It was a magic moment that changed my life (no exaggeration here!)

Nick Alosio (THANAMAGUS): I don't remember when I first heard Demigod. Sentenced's Shadows of the Past album was my first introduction to the Finnish death metal scene, and I am always connected more with that one. I was always drawn to the heaviness of Slumber..., particularly to the drowning heavy sound of "Perpetual Ascent."

Matt Medeiros (KALOPSIA): Absolutely. Deicide was the first death metal band that really clicked with me. A friend had the Amon demos on a dubbed cassette, and I spent a week listening to it on repeat. "Dead by Dawn" and "Lunatic of God's Creation" were instant classics. That summer (1997) I saved a paycheck to buy some CDs and got Once Upon the Cross. A few months later Serpents of the Light came out. I had the entire Deicide discography, with one exception... Legion. Knowing three of their four albums forward and backwards, I expected the chunky riffs of "Children of the Underworld" and "Dead by Dawn" and the frenzy of "Sacrificial Suicide" or "Serpents of the Light." I saw Deicide on the "Serpents of the Light" tour, and there was one song I didn't know. I thought I was prepared and I could not have been more wrong.

Legion hit me like a railgun. The catchy riffs were still there, but the timing was off. The whole album felt tight, but super unpredictable. "Satan Spawn the Caco Daemon" is a masterwork of tight drumming and evil, off-kilter riffage. "Holy Deception" would lull me into a false sense of security with simple tremolo riffs and double bass, only to veer wildly off course. "Revocate the Agitator" ends the album on such a monstrous crescendo that I was left dumbfounded. The vocals are absolutely unhinged. Glen Benton's angriest performance ever. The leads are otherworldly. I can't say enough about Steve Asheim's masterful drumming. Ferocious and tight, with tons of feel. Hundreds of listens later, Legion remains my favorite Deicide album. I saw them play Legion in its entirety twice in 2022. Insane. 666/10!

My ingress into Scandinavian death metal was much rougher. The first Grave record I heard was Soulless and the first Entombed record I heard was Wolverine Blues. It would be a few years later before I got into the Finnish bands. Demilich was off the wall and angular, but Demigod was just primitive, musical and crushing. "Perpetual Ascent" was soaked with mournful atmosphere. Demigod showed that there was a different approach, and as my journey continued, I came to understand the differences between Swedish and Finnish death metal. Demigod's Slumber of Sullen Eyes is a masterwork of primitive, darkly melodic brutality.

Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): I confess that I was never too much into Deicide. I had their debut album copied on tape back in the day when it came out and I liked it a bit, but I never got into it that much. Cannibal Corpse, Obituary and Deicide are the three legendary US death metal bands that I never got into, but I always liked Deicide the best from the three. You know, at least I had copied their debut LP on tape! By 1992, I was already fed up with death metal, also my own band Phlegethon split up the same year, so Deicide's Legion went off my radar. I checked out the album many, many years later though, but I wasn't convinced. I prefer the debut to Legion—be it for nostalgia or whatever—and I'm afraid that's all I have to say about Legion.

I don't remember when I heard Demigod's Slumber of Sullen Eyes in full for the first time, but most probably it wasn't around 1992, because, like I said, I wasn't following the scene anymore at the time. I checked back in on a lot of stuff from 1992 and onward much, much later. Of course, I was familiar with Demigod before their debut album release though. Phlegethon and Demigod were pen pals, we played some shows together, and we listened to their Unholy Domain demo quite a lot. Even if I can't really track the year I heard Slumber of the Sullen Eyes for the first time, nor my initial thoughts on it, I can tell you I love the album. It has great production for 1992 Finnish death metal recording and it sounds great still to this day. It's definitely one of the best examples of early Finnish death metal.

SS (UTTERTOMB): I remember Legion first. I was in high school, and it turned out to be a lesson in brutality in those days for a youngster like me. I think my first approach was due to the satanic hype about the endeavors and myths around Deicide, because I saw them on a morning show on TV before going to school and it caught my attention for sure. It wasn't the easiest album to digest at first because my face was blown away, but after a few listens it became a gold standard in terms of how vicious death metal must be played.

Slumber... reached my ears later in the same period I think, but it hooked me at the very first listen along with the classic sound of all the Finnish bands around. I've always liked the obscure atmosphere and heaviness that impregnated my walls at home. It felt genuine and unique as fuck to me. Also, the artwork attracted me as well. You know how it is, the front cover showed me what Demigod was about before listening to it.

Brandon Corsair (DRAGHKAR): Honestly, I can't. As a child of the Internet age, I got into most classic death metal albums via Blogspot links, torrenting, and lists of classics that my friends sent me. I can remember the instant I ran into Possessed and Dismember in high school back in the '00s, and the first time I heard Vader, but despite how much I love both Legion (which was wonderful to hear in full this year at Maryland Deathfest!) and Slumber of Sullen Eyes (which is proudly displayed in a place of honor above my turntable, on the original Drowned Prod vinyl pressing) I can only remember really when Legion first clicked and not at all when or where I was when I heard both for the very first time.

What I do remember is how entranced by Slumber of Sullen Eyes I was even from the beginning. The mystical atmosphere and how different it is from everything else ever released captivated me, and I must have listened to it a hundred times in that first year of discovery.

Legion on the other hand was far too chaotic for me coming from the simpler song structures and big choruses that Deicide's first album has, and it took time to click with me in the same way. I've come to adore it, but it was not a very immediate album for me.

Cihan Akün (BURIAL INVOCATION): I heard Legion in my early teens, and it sounded so chaotic and even difficult to follow at times because of the frantic performance and vocals, which are really loud in the mix. I have been going back to it from time to time through the years and now the structures seem very readable to me behind all that frenzy, and it's such a well written, tightly played, technical yet memorable album with a great bass sound.

Slumber of Sullen Eyes I discovered way later than Legion, in my early twenties. Albums like this introduced me to another side of death metal, which doesn't focus on pure aggression or technicality, yet is still competent technically and especially composition-wise, while forming a constant dark aura around it, which has a soothing, mind-calming quality for me. Another thing I noticed about this album upon hearing it for the first time is that the band had already developed such a mature use of the full minor chords on the guitar in 1992, which are so characteristic of the second-wave black metal style. I think Demigod is synchronic, maybe even slightly ahead of the second-wave black metal in this aspect, yet still has a different and distinct sound from black metal despite its heavy use of these chords.

Have you employed some of the same elements from either Legion or Slumber..., in your songwriting for your own band(s), either consciously or unconsciously?

Matti Mäkelä (CORPSESSED): Oh, for sure! There's a nod to "Satan Spawn, The Caco-Daemon" in our song "Impetus of the Dead" and some total Deicide worship going on in the song "Death-Stench Effluvium." Their riffing style has been such an influence on me that there most certainly are some unconscious synchronicities all over our stuff.

As for Demigod, there are a few nods here and there throughout all of our albums. "Succumb to Rot" as a title also has a familiar ring to it, doesn't it? Even though that is mostly accidental. Paying tribute to stuff that has influenced us has always been there, conscious or not, but of course, our aim is never to blatantly steal anything. We take our influences and try to twist it into something of our own.

Rozel Nikolaj Leaño (FORMLESS OEDON): Intentionally and unintentionally. With Formless Oedon, most of my songwriting borrows heavily from Finnish death metal, like Convulse, Amorphis, and of course, Demigod. Some listeners point this out. With Nullification, on the other hand, people point out that some of our songs have that Deicide vibe to it, particularly the Amon demo days and the first two albums. It wasn't intentional, nor do we really consider Deicide to be a big influence, but I think it's cool that listeners pick up elements of that great band from our music.

Leimy (RECKLESS MANSLAUGHTER): Oh yes I did... ;)

Deicide: With Reckless Manslaughter we wrote a song called "Vaporized Crucifix" with totally over-the-top satanic lyrics, which were written by a friend of mine. The whole song is an homage to bands like Deicide, old Vital Remains, Aeon or Sinister and on some brutal parts I tried to imitate Glen Benton's shriek-growl-double-attack. I think it turned out quite cool but for the next album I might try something similar in a much more brutal way. ;)

Demigod: When I did the vocals for the first Abythic album I immediately discovered all those Finnish vibes that our songwriter MDB implemented throughout the whole album and my goal was to write some mystic and otherworldly lyrics how Abhorrence or Demigod would do it. The most important part was that it should sound heavy but still understandable and I think especially "Abandoned Tombs on Ungodly Grounds" is a good example of where we managed to revive the Demigod vibe. With Reckless Manslaughter, we did the instrumental "Into Unknown Caverns," which is an homage to Finnish death metal and it has those Demigod melodies and riffing in it, I think. But we will have many more Finnish elements on our next album, be prepared for that. ;)

Nick Alosio (THANAMAGUS): To be honest, I've always connected far more to Deicide than any Finnish death metal. The emotion and raw anger in Deicide are better felt in the music and lyrics. Deicide's first two albums are mostly unmatched by all others in ferocity.

Matt Medeiros (KALOPSIA): Absolutely. Deicide directly influenced the vocal approach I developed and later used in Kalopsia.

Demigod is a direct influence on Ruinous and its predecessor, Funebrarum.

Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): It's pretty safe to say that Slumber... inspired me to some extent on my solo project Claws, and also some more recent stuff (not Hooded Menace) that I've been working on, but perhaps more about it later. Things are moving rather slow these days, so I ain't gonna announce anything until shit is really coming together and happening.

SS (UTTERTOMB): I've heard those full-lengths so much that I never used anything that reminded me of those tracks. For instance, I try to listen to almost everything with complete detail in terms of structure and composition to avoid repeating those formulas, so if it turns out to be similar, I dispose of that riff or idea in order to not copy their legacy.

Brandon Corsair (DRAGHKAR): Absolutely! Slumber of Sullen Eyes remains a large influence on my songwriting in Draghkar, and the melodic approach in particular resonates with me. I can't say that I've ever been particularly influenced by Deicide at all despite how cool the band is.

Cihan Akün (BURIAL INVOCATION): Legion, I have always admired and have been influenced by this kind of meaty and technically proficient American-style death metal, which grows on the evil roots of its predecessors, the biggest of which is the mighty Slayer. I think it is essential for every metal guitarist to have this kind of influence, regardless of which kind of path in metal that they choose to pursue afterwards.

As for Slumber of Sullen Eyes, this was one of the albums which gave me the inspiration to form Burial Invocation to play a type of death metal which contained the same kind of dark, ethereal atmosphere. You can find their influence with the minor chords I mentioned earlier, in the opening riff of our song "Revival."

...and then perhaps the most difficult question: Which of these two albums do you prefer and why? And please, no ties.

Matti Mäkelä (CORPSESSED): The answer for me is easy, Deicide takes the win. Like I mentioned before, their first three albums are some of the most important death metal for me and Legion stands vital and victorious to this day. That being said, Demigod is no slouch either. The debut and the demos prior to it are some of the best Finnish death metal ever produced.

Rozel Nikolaj Leaño (FORMLESS OEDON): Not a very difficult one to answer. I'll pick Slumber of Sullen Eyes over Legion any day! The former sounds a lot heavier and more intricate than the former for my ears, and can you believe Demigod were just a bunch of kids when they recorded that album?! So unreal! They are hands down the gods of Finnish death metal. Not shitting on Deicide, though. I have nothing but love for their early material, especially the Amon demos. But for me, the Finnish "demigods" beat the Floridian godslayers any time of the day.

Leimy (RECKLESS MANSLAUGHTER): It surely is Slumber of Sullen Eyes!

Over the years it became my favorite album of all time because of that special feeling which no other record has. It's death metal from the heart for the heart and everything is perfect. The production, the vocals, the lyrics, the riffing, the melodies, the drumming, the playtime, and the artwork. A legendary album and I'm happy that it now gets the recognition it deserves! When it was announced that Demigod would reform with Esa Lindén on vocals for a special gig in Helsinki, Finland, in 2010, I didn't hesitate and immediately booked flights to Finland. And this was really a life-changing experience because since then my love for Finland became bigger and bigger and I traveled there many times since. That gig was one of the best live experiences I ever witnessed, and it was a shame that they weren't the headliners! I uploaded a YouTube video of it and it's a pity that handy cams weren't very good 12 years ago, hahaha!! I was so happy that I had the opportunity to witness one of their rare live gigs again in 2013 in France when they headlined the Wolf Throne festival with an amazing set again (which a friend of mine uploaded in quite good quality on YouTube) and which I will remember forever for sure!

A few years ago, a friend of mine sold me his vinyl copy for a fair price and since then I feel more complete. :D I'm really looking forward to the new reissue on Svart Records and hopefully someday Demigod will come back like they did before and will bring some new stuff along with them, just like Abhorrence did some years ago, too!

Nick Alosio (THANAMAGUS): I have given the Deicide album far more listens than Demigod.

Matt Medeiros (KALOPSIA): Legion, hands down. I pay tribute at the altar of both albums, but in a fight to the death, I can't think of any songs off the top of my head that can outplay "Dead But Dreaming," "Holy Deception" and "Satan Spawn, the Caco-Daemon." An unstoppable force of diabolical destruction.

Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): This is actually the easiest question for me! I like my death metal peppered with a twisted sense of melody so typical of old Finnish death metal, so Demigod takes the cake here, no competition at all.

SS (UTTERTOMB): Demigod, no doubt. I think because it lurked within my mind for so many years because of the gloomy production, lyrical themes and the whole ambience and riffing.

On the other hand, Legion is a classic, of course, but it's not their best work at all for me. I prefer the previous one or even Once Upon the Cross because of the sound and artwork. Sometimes it makes me grin because of the rhythm vocalization on that release, a little bit rapped for my taste haha!! Of course, it is one hell of an album, but I'll choose Demigod on this one due to the obscurity rather than brutality.

Brandon Corsair (DRAGHKAR): Slumber of Sullen Eyes, if that wasn't obvious already! My taste ranges far more in that direction than towards Legion's and even now I prefer Deicide and the Amon demos to Legion. Slumber of Sullen Eyes, on the other hand, is one of my absolute favorite death metal records ever, transcendent and beautiful and horrifying in a way almost nothing else ever has been again. Absolute perfection.

Tomas Halama (HEAVING EARTH): It's Deicide Legion any day. My problem with Demigod and other Finns (even Demilich) is that they didn't really make it back in the '90s, so if you weren't part of the first late '80s/early '90s wave as a fan, you probably don't know them—at least here in the Czech Republic. I don't think I've even heard about Demilich until the early '00s, so I really can't compare Deicide and Demigod because Deicide was one of the biggest death metal bands in the world, that every village metalhead knew and Demigod was a very obscure band that only a few experts with deep knowledge of death metal scene who had witnessed the death metal boom in the late '80s/early '90s knew.

Cihan Akün (BURIAL INVOCATION): I am mostly a "why pick one while I can enjoy both?" person and have always enjoyed classic Deicide and Legion is actually my favorite album of theirs, but if I definitely have to pick one, I can say that Slumber of the Sullen Eyes holds a more special place for me, as it is one of the rare breed albums in extreme metal, which suggests to me a calm, meditative observation of all kinds of dark forces within the inner and outer worlds we inhabit.

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