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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Benediction

Killing Music

Review by Mike Korn

Benediction is a venerable institution of the extreme music scene who have been silent for too long. It's been exactly 7 years since their last record Organized Chaos and that was hardly one of their better efforts. I wondered if these guys had thrown in the towel. Well, spank my fanny and call me sweety, here is the best Benediction record in well over ten years...one that will certainly show many of today's pseudo-death bands like Job For A Cowboy and Brain Drill how it should be done.

These guys were always at their best when they were at their grimiest and grimmest, with rough production and bruising blasts of primitive riffing. That's what we get on Killing Music, which hails back to their heyday of The Grand Leveller and Transcend the Rubicon, both of which were timeless classics. The Benediction style can basically be described as a mixture of speedy Napalm Death style grind, gloomy slow and mid-tempo riffs ala Celtic Frost and a definite touch of crusty British punk. In fact, they pay homage to their punky influences here by covering Broken Bones and The Amebix...both in excellent fashion, I might add.

It's good to hear these guys sounding so angry and morbid again. Singer Dave Hunt, who replaced longtime frontman Dave Ingram on Organized Chaos, now sounds completely comfortable, not to mention ticked off! This is a big improvement from Mr. Hunt and a great offering of traditional death from the mighty Benediction!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Intro
I don't have much time for this sort of fluff.  This is a typical soundtrack sounding pastiche that provides a brief lead-in to the real album.
The Grey Man
You can tell right away that Benediction could care less about ProTools or drum triggers. An onrushing avalanche of filthy guitar riffing announces the band's arrival. This blazing cut could have fit perfectly on the band's early 90's efforts and instead of being dated, it sounds like a breath of fresh air (from the tomb).
Controlopolis (Rats In The Mask)
One can definitely detect D-beat punk in the super-catchy and simple riffs of this stand-out cut. There are some really awesome grooves here that will get the kids skanking like crazy in the pit. Dave Hunt sounds utterly murderous and Neil Hutton's drumming is also strident and angry. This is Benediction at its best!
Killing Music
The pace continues to be blistering here, with a bit more of a traditional death metal feel. It's not quite as sludgy or punky, but it's still pretty rotten sounding (in a good way).  This reminded me quite a bit of Massacre, right down to the vocals.
They Must Die Screaming
Hammering staccato guitar riffs give way to a God-awful groan and a crushing groove. Hunt sounds uncannily like his predecessor Dave Ingram here, only maybe even more morbid. This is classic oldschool death to the core, sounding like it came via time warp from 1992.
Dripping With Disgust
Here's a very evil sounding cut with a real stalking feel, more mid-paced than most of the other stuff, but very ominous. It does speed up considerably but, as with most of the album, never to the level of insanity. Honestly, this seems like a long lost out-take from the Grand Leveller sessions.
Wrath And Regret
This starts off rather like the previous track but evolves into an even more brutal thrasher. I love this kind of stuff! I'd say this is my favorite cut on an album full of strong songs. Choppy blast riffing is the order of the day on the verses but stand by to mosh like a fiend with the awesome mid-section, which just oozes pure power with slower, gloomier chords! We get some excellent stuff here!
As Her Skin Weeps
Lasting less than two minutes, this races by in typical Benediction fashion but doesn't have the time to develop much.
Cold, Deathless, Unrepentant
More pounding, primtive death metal fury is delivered here. The only thing that keeps this from being redundant is the absolute conviction and intensity the band brings to the cut.  This is very thick and sludgy, a million miles away from the overproduced stuff claiming the death metal name today.
Immaculate Facade
This is not greatly different from what's gone before, but the quality of the riffing is extreme and Dave Hunt brings supreme disgust to the fore with his spiteful vocals. The crawling doom in the middle of the song makes most metalcore breakdowns sound poppy and cheerful. A cross between Celtic Frost and Discharge is a good comparison to this style, which Benediction have surely mastered here.
Burying The Hatchet
This might be the most angry song on an album that could hardly be called peaceful. Again, Hunt and Hutton do an outstanding job.
Beg, You Dogs
This starts out a lot more groovy and less sludgy than the other tracks here. It's like an updated version of something from Benediction's Grind Bastards album, only a bit dirtier. Yeah, I'll admit that a lot of the songs are starting to sound the same by now...
Seeing Through My Eyes
Broken Bones was definitely a British punk band that could hang with the heaviest of metal while not losing their soul. Here Benediction pays tribute to one of their influences, with this bracing cover. The shouted chorus gives the song a different feel than the other tracks here, but the brutal guitar sound is definitely Benediction. There is a cool little rock and roll guitar solo,too, which I would have liked to hear more of in the rest of the record.
Largactyl
The Amebix were one of the most influential bands to have only one album out. Like a cross between Discharge, Venom, Motorhead and Sabbath, they created a very gloomy sound which gave birth to bands such as Benediction. Vocally, this is really different, with a raw, sore-throat kind of croak and some backing vocals that sound like Gollum gone rabid. "Relax...it's only paranoia!"
 
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