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You can't stop the killing... - 85%

RedRiverFox, March 19th, 2012

Shortly after the release of Benediction's "Subconscious Terror" in 1990, Barney Greenway exited the band to join Napalm Death. Following this departure, the band found Dave Ingram to fill his shoes, and I would argue this was actually for the benefit of the band. While "Subconscious Terror" was indeed a decent outing, it was hardly anything that could tangle with the best of the band, that being this album, released to the world in October 1991.

I wouldn't necessarily say that Benediction were looking to reinvent the wheel here, for there isn't a huge difference between this and its predecessor except perhaps a noticable improvement in the songwriting. The songs are still mostly mid-tempo, relying on groovy, catchy riffs and fairly straight forward compositions. Ingram's barks here are a bit more menancing than Greenway, perhaps less vicious, but more suiting to the music as a whole. The production also aids things, its plenty heavy without being overly processed, sporting a particularly gritty and grimey sound.

For highlights, you could go with pretty much any song here and you'd have a winner. "Visions in the Shroud" begins with an ominous intro before moving into some familiar grooving territory, coming off as one of the catchier songs here. "Graveworm" is more of the same, while "Jumping at Shadows" is perhaps the darkest and most interesting song here, complete with a quote from a letter written by David Berkowitz, better known as "The Son of Sam," the man who committed murders as commanded by his neighbor's demon possessed dog. Definitely adds a certain eerie nature to this song, which the dark atmosphere captures perfectly. Its perhaps one of my favorite Benediction songs of all.

The CD version of this album also contains "Senile Dementia" and a Celtic Frost cover in "Return to the Eve." Both songs are nice to have, but neither one really steals the spotlight here from the original material. This said, "Return to the Eve" was a nice choice for this band to cover, paying tribute to a pioneer in extreme metal and they manage to add their own character to the song.

"The Grand Leveller" is quite the gem in old school death metal. Its certainly nothing flashy by any means, just hammering some sweet grooves and catchy riffs in a very workman like manner, devoid of any real ambition or forward thinking. At the same time, its excellent stuff to just blare out of your speakers and headbang to. The band has always been something of a lightweight counterpart to Bolt Thrower, but that in itself is hardly a bad thing as far as I'm concerned.