01. To Hell And Back 02. Don't Get Mad… Get Even! 03. Wicked Disdain 04. Free Us All 05. Heavy Is The Crown 06. Walk With Me Forever 07. Dead Inside 08. The Mark Of Cain 09. In The Hall Of The Hanging Serpents 10. Severance
Best known as a member of ENTOMBED A.D.'s final lineup, guitarist Guilherme Miranda clearly means serious business. DIETH sees the Brazilian team up with ex-MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson, and if nothing else, "To Hell And Back" is an absolute feast for fans of the great man's playing. With former DECAPITATED drummer Michal Łysejko completing this chrome-plated power trio, these songs are as devastatingly precise and powerful as expected.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that DIETH lean more heavily into death metal than Ellefson's involvement might have suggested, with blackened flashes and moments of progressive fervor thrown in for disorientating measure. Ellefson has never lent his talents to anything quite this heavy before, and there is undeniable joy in hearing him throw down over such brutal backing. But while "To Hell And Back" is satisfyingly extreme (and at least half a world away from MEGADETH),  it has also been polished to a blinding, irresistible sheen. These songs sound big, bold, catchy and ambitious as a result, instantly batting away the notion that this is just another time-killing side-project.
The opening title track neatly sums up the essence of DIETH's fresh formula. This is grandiose, melodic death metal with progressive trimmings and vocals belched from the depths of Hell. It's uncomplicated, but undeniable. DIETH sound imperious from the start. "Don't Get Mad… Get Even!" might be a teensy bit goofier than the title track, but it delivers another jolting slap to the forehead; this time with the thrash quotient upped considerably, and a bonus dash of PRONG-like crossover crunch. Miranda's growls have authority galore, and his clarity and power add much to DIETH's potential. "Wicked Disdain" is a grim and grotesque death metal epic with more than a hint of MORBID ANGEL, but the Floridians were never this groovy. "Free Us All" is a riotous chunk of old-school DM, elevated by Miranda's mellifluous, proggy soloing, a wickedly laidback mid-song detour and some righteous and frosty machine-gun riffing. "Heavy Is The Crown" begins as a big, fat, post-SABBATH skirmish, but it mutates into deathly devilry midway through, snapping back into an Iommian groove, as Miranda's deadpan cleans and furious snarl exchange bitter pleasantries.
The wheels do come off momentarily, during Ellefson's much-feted debut as a lead vocalist, "Walk With Me Forever". It's a decent song and he has a strong voice, but thanks in part to an extremely radio-friendly, AOR-tinged chorus, it feels a little out of place and out of touch with all that surrounds it. The day is immediately saved by "Dead Inside", which restores DIETH's aggressive edge, while boasting the best / gnarliest riff on the whole record. "The Mark Of Cain" is even better: with shades of HYPOCRISY and Łysejko at full pelt, Miranda's profound grasp of death metal's unearthly power is on full display.
"In The Hall Of The Hanging Serpents" repeats the trick at a manic mid-pace; a classy collision between melo-death and groove-driven thrash, with a hard-on for circle pits and fists in the air. The closing "Severance" — an elegant, wistful instrumental — soundtracks the bruised and bloody comedown from all that pugilistic pomp.
Although not without its flaws, "To Hell And Back" gets nearly everything right, and DIETH's subtly original first blueprint sounds ripe for further exploration. Plus, it's great to hear Ellefson back at it and having the time of his life.
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