Thursday, April 9, 2009
Anyone even casually acquainted with the Death Metal band Deicide knows that they are pioneers in the fields of both maximum riffage and blasphemous Satanism. But lesser known are the contributions Deicide (and especially frontman Glen Benton) have made to the fields of language and grammar. Always the innovator, Benton has revolutionized the realm of Metal lyrics, experimenting liberally with both vernacular and composition. In the article below, I will call attention to many of these "experiments", pondering at length about Deicide's choices in both phrasing and wording. Obviously, Deicide is trying to express concepts that cannot be described through the constraints of English language, for Benton's lyrical output is unhindered by the rigid borders of "accepted" syntax. For the sake of brevity (and also because I'm much more familiar with their earlier work), I will limit these studies to only their first two albums.
-Benton and Deicide destroyed the conventions of modern English grammar and vernacular right away, beginning with the first song on their first album, "Lunatic of God's Creation" (ostensibly written about notorious cult leader Charles Manson). The song's opening lines "Servants of death, enchanter of pain / From the land of no return, you'll kill again" start things off with a paradox. What exactly is an "enchanter of pain"? Usually, "to enchant" would apply to some sort of proper noun or person, but Glen has chosen to ascribe it to an abstract concept, pain. He elucidates no further, but this is just the beginning. In the chorus of the same song, he growls, "Lunatic of God's creation / No resist / Hear the voices of devastation". I'd like to focus now on the phrase "No resist". Is Benton telling us NOT to resist? Or is he referring to an ABSENCE of "resist"? Baffling, but brilliant.
-The second track, "Sacrificial Suicide", contains Benton's earliest known etymological gem, hidden cleverly in the lines "I am crucifix - Satan / Suicide sacrifice / profeasting evil night". As far as Merriam-Webster is concerned, "profeasting" is not actually an English word. There are two possible interpretations of this one. The prefix "pro-" usually means forward, so "profeasting" could mean either "forward-feasting" or "professional feasting".
-In the fourth song, "Dead By Dawn", Benton intones, "Unbegun, premenating bizarre / Swept away to the castle of Kantar". "Premanating" seems to be some sort of derivative of "premonition", but Merriam-Webster lists this word's only known derivative as "premonitory". Looks like Glen knows something the dictionary doesn't!
-The song "Blasphererion", while lyrically composed of mostly gibberish, must be noted for the first appearance of the word "blasphemate", another Benton concoction containing a suspicious suffix, which appears several times later in their career.
-Speaking of suspicious suffixes, the last song on the album, "Crucifixation", contains another one, hidden in the line "Haunted by the righteous one, bent of my repention". A normal Metal singer may have used "repentance", but NOT GLEN! "Repention" it is!
-Benton unleashes two more etymological classics in the first song on Deicide's second album, "Satan Spawn, The Caco-Daemon". Behold: "Never will they see you lurking in my shadow / Unbenign the hands of god / Nummified existence, knower of the wicked". Rather than bow to the preferred English opposite of benign, "malignant", Glen creates his own word, "unbenign", undeniably more powerful. Following it up with a masterful creation like "nummified" is just verbal icing on the cake. The prospect of a "nummy" itself is mind-blowing.
-Another grammatical innovation leaps forth on "Dead But Dreaming", Legion's second track. "Hanging from their primal sleep / Forbidden to be seen", shouts Benton, causing one to wonder: "How do you hang from a physical act such as sleeping?" The line is pure genius and, as such, pure GLEN. The song also contains the word "unbinded", which seems to be a Bentonized version of "unbound".
-The third song, "Repent To Die", contains another allusion to "repention", along with the suspicious phrase "Resisting your wake of adorn".
-Song #4, "Trifixion", introduces us to the word "Intwist", as in "Intwist me in the lines of trifixion". I guess it should also be noted that "trifixion" is a Benton Word too (not found in Merriam-Webster).
-In "Behead The Prophet (No Lord Shall Live)", Mr. Benton introduces us to a few more linguistic anomalies, such as "Legion crush jehovah, see through the faceless dog", followed later in the song by "Legion, thou has waited, beface the sacred dog". Apparently, Deicide wants us to "beface" (rather than "deface") this transparent, faceless canine, for reasons known to Benton alone. When he follows it up with "Beheaded prophet the suffer is yours!", you can't help but agree.
-The next song, "Holy Deception", gives us a WHOLE VERSE of experimental grammar. I can't even begin to fathom the meaning behind these cryptic words, so I'll just reprint them in their entirety: "Time has imprisoned on my soul / Religion in the path of what compels me / Lies instrument the holy hate / Deceiving of the weak in faith intention / Suffering with no reason and no doubt / Pertruding on the lines of persecution / Vomit on the holy man never before your saviour". Absolutely stunning. Benton has proved himself not only a masterful musician, but a master of experimental linguistics as well.
-The last song on the album, "Revocate The Agitator", also presents us with the word "confrontate", a Benton Word that strikes a happy medium between the actual English words "confront" and "confrontation".
All in all, Glen Benton's groundbreaking work in the field of Metal Etymology is nothing short of legendary. Maybe you should take a moment out of your busy schedule today to revisit these two releases, and pay a silent tribute to a man that has done so much for both music and language. Well done, Professor Benton. The suffer is yours!