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When did Benediction get so heavy? This is not meant to be a rhetorical question but a true interrogation. The Benediction I remember (and gave up on) back in the early/mid-90's was a solid second-tier death metal band who struggled to distinguish themselves from the pack. Their better records were fun, functional listens but when held up against others, it was easy to find Benediction out-thrashed, out-bludgeoned, and slightly overwhelmed. So imagine my surprise when I finally pressed play on Killing Music and after a brief intro was utterly overwhelmed, stunned by the sheer audacious heaviness of this album.
Two things come right to the surface during "The Grey Man:" Dave Hunt is a vicious vocalist with a distinct personal style that amps the intensity of the music; Neil Hutton has morphed into a next-level drummer. These two combine to dominate the mix: vocals and drums up front with the guitars and bass edging into the sides of the music. This production choice makes for a palpably heavy atmosphere. Dave Hunt totally owns this record, stepping up and into his own with deep gruff vocals that don't cop to previous Benediction singer styles. There is also a rage of seething anger to his voice that feels menacingly real. Musically, this is still classic Benediction: mostly mid-paced death metal with occasional thrashy breaks and a strong dose of classic UK crust influence (evidenced by the Broken Bones and Amebix covers appended to the special edition). No fancy technicality though the execution is crisp and effective.
Highlights include the dark melodic bruise of "They Must Die Screaming" and the slower churn of "Dripping With Disgust," a tune that perfectly encapsulates its title. I also dig the staccato start-stop riff that opens "Burying The Hatchet," as well as the brief death-doom break halfway through the tune. The very percussive, very atmospheric "Cold, Deathless, Unrepentant" is another highlight and the crust influence rears its head quite distinctly throughout "Controlopolis (Rats In The Mask)," a whip-fast slice of death-y d-beat.
Killing Music may be Benediction's finest hour. Utterly re-invigorated, Benediction manage to update their original style without compromise and deliver their heaviest, filthiest record to date. Sadly, we've had no output from them since this release. I would certainly be interested to hear how they would capitalize on this record's biting intensity.
Benediction are as cool as a cucumber. It took them seven years to create and release this album. This was irritating, because its inconspicuous predecessor did not have a long-term effect. Honestly said, I thought that they had split up. I was fortunately wrong. They came back with a bang. This album sounds raw, angry and purulent, it is a statement against high-gloss polished metal. The brilliant production is a pretty decent slap in the face and highlights the songs due to the hammering drums, the deeply-resonating guitars and the menacing voice. Singer Dave Hunt has most likely animalistic tendencies and he knows well how to express them. Frank Healy who seems to manage the bass guitar on almost every British extreme metal album is very active, too, while the guitarists create tons of threatening melody lines. Do not misunderstand me, this album is definitely not characterized by its melodic harmonies. Benediction just have a knack for integrating the necessary amount of melodies so that their punk influenced death metal gets the right balance between murderous violence and ugly musicality. Therefore, it seems fair to assume that they are men of conviction. They only do what they like without taking care about other people´s opinions.
Benediction´s stubborn aggressiveness impresses more and more the longer the album runs. Nevertheless, the best tracks are placed in the first half of the album. "Dripping with Disgust" is a brute rabbit punch while offering a very tough beginning and high velocity after a succeeded break. The title track presents the strongest guitar line while the fast "Controlopolis" blows you away due to its mechanized and misanthropic aura which is combined with nightmarish lyrics. Sinister science fiction metal at its best, of course without spherical sounds! There are also two very strong cover songs at the end of the album. "Seeing through my Eyes" with its explosive chorus, originally written by Broken Bones, and the thick "Largactyl" (Amebix) are Benediction´s final offensive. Without being a friend of cover versions in general, these tunes can really be termed a bonus. It also has to be said that the entire album does not include any boring songs. Consequently, this full-length offers a very coherent flow and only evil tongues would claim that the pieces seem to be interchangeable.
The cover motif has not been chosen carefully. If I am not mistaken, I have seen one or two skulls on metal album covers before. Maybe even more. However, as long as metal musicians act in a musically creative manner we do not need to complain about the fairly unimaginative look of the package. Just listen to the disc and put the package on the shelf. Finally, let me peer into the future. Of course, I do not know where Benediction are currently hanging around. But 2015 will be a good year, if these British troublemaker release a worthy successor again after a wait of seven years. I am actually very hopeful, because as I have already mentioned, Benediction are as cool as a cucumber.
Benediction have always been one of the best death metal bands the UK has to offer with consistent releases since their birth in 1989 and the release of ‘Killing Music’ does not change that.
The album bursts out of the Intro into the traditionally fast and brutal ‘The Grey Man’ subjecting listeners to an onslaught of classic death metal riffs played with the aggression of hardcore punk. This formula is maintained through the whole album with every song being as ferocious as the last. You cannot fault the musicianship on ‘Killing Music.’ The drums are extremely tight, the guitars never cease to provide the technical carnage that can be expected from a Benediction record and Mick Kenney does an excellent job producing the album to a very high standard. I would also like to commend Dave Hunt’s vocals. They are quite a big departure from his work in Anaal Nathrakh. You won’t find any high pitched eerie screams but I was pleasantly surprised at how he delivers his harsh growls. He gives the album a distinctive feeling, akin to what you would find from a hardcore punk band, which works very well in conjunction with the destructive death metal that fill this album.
However the album does have one weakness, it’s rather repetitive. The riffs all start to sound a little too familiar after a couple of songs and the drums, although played extremely well by Neil Hutton, don’t offer anything other than the same few beats constantly being pounded into your ears. Despite this there aren’t any bad songs on this consistently violent album and at no point did I not feel like starting a one man circle pit in my room.
‘Killing Music’ does not offer a collection of distinctive, catchy death metal hits but that’s not the point of this album. Buy this album, stick it on loud, close your eyes and picture yourself at your local venue losing it in the pit or up the front head banging madly to the brutality emanating from the death metal veterans. This may not be the best Benediction album but it’s a very solid release and certainly a must for your collection if you like aggressive as hell British death metal.
Always heroes of European death metal, Benediction are among the few left to carry on the flag of UK extreme music. Or, at least, that is their intention: because, judging from their latest releases, they're not paying a big homage to the scene of their homecountry.
For sure we can't say “Killing Music” (sort of synonymous of “death metal”) is an ugly bad album, or blame them for being too orthodox, since this is one of the advertised strong spots of the band. The background problem is you can't wait seven years for such an ordinary and flat album (and even “Organized Chaos” was not to be celebrated).
All is perfect, seemingly – from the production to accelerations, from the heaviness of rhythms to Dave Hunt's uvula, though he seems more at ease somewhere else (Anaal Nathrakh). It's the killer riff to be missing here, the typical death song with that unforeseeable break; and the problem is not the low technical content, since bands like Vomitory have long time explained technique is not always so necessary.
This “Killing Music” may be interesting because it digs deep into the roots of the genre, and discovers the punk oriented ones (the beginning of “Controlopolis (Rats In The Mask)”, but the examples may be plenty); without forgetting the English band pays a personal homage to some forgotten acts that influenced them long ago (Broken Bones and Amebix) playing some cover versions in the limited edition. But it's not to learn some music history lesson that you should purchase an album from Benediction...
Originally written for Silent Scream http://www.silentscreamzine.com/Home.asp?Lang=ENG
Benediction is one of the few worthwhile death metal bands to come out of England. While their debut featured one Barney Greenway on vocals it is album number three, Transcend the Rubicon that is the bands best contribution to the genre. I lost touch with the band around the time of the lackluster Grind Bastard and it was only recently, when I found out that Anaal Nathraakh and Mistress vocalist Dave Hunt was fronting the band that my interest was rekindled in this unapologetically old school death metal band.
Killing Music is their latest offering and second featuring Hunt on vocals and it’s a bit of a disappointment. On first listen, the tones and feel of the songs on the album are refreshingly old school. It’s only when the repeat listen happens that you figure out there’s no depth to these songs at all. That’s not to say that the songs are bad. If you don’t listen to a lot of death metal then chances are you’ll probably find something to like here and be suitably impressed by the constant pounding but when it’s over there won’t be a single song of the dozen songs on offer that will stay in your head. There is no Violation Domain or Foetus Noose on this album. What you get instead is basically the same damn death metal song on repeat for a dozen times. It’s like the band is stuck in mediocrity and refuses to get out.
Another thing that works against the album is Dave Hunt’s vocals. I love his work on both Anaal Nathraakh and Mistress but here the man sounds like he’s forcing the death grunts and growls and ends up sounding like he’s fronting a crust/ hardcore band instead of a death metal band.
Killing Music is still unapologetic old school death metal. It just feels like the band has recorded the same damn song a dozen times and it will leave you with a strong sense of déjà-vu. You’ve heard all of this before. It was boring the first time and it’s boring now.
Originally written for http://www.kvltsite.com