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Mid-paced mayhem - 83%

Vim_Fuego, August 8th, 2004

Spooky introductions are crap. Unfortunately, lots of metal bands have tried them over the years, like Benediction did here. It seems like back–masked vocals over atmospheric noises are supposed to be scary. The noises weren't very effective, even in 1990.

Luckily, things improve. Kicking off the title track with a rumbling bass drone, Benediction prove very quickly they do things a little differently to the average Death Metal band. For one thing, they show an excellent understanding of dynamics. While most bands were trying to go faster/heavier/more brutal, Benediction were one of the first to reign in the speed and add thunderous mid–paced passages to songs. Slowing down the tempo ups the effectiveness of the drumming on this album in particular. Ian Treacy is of the Mike Sus school of "who gives a shit if it's out of time, as long as it's heavy" drumming, but he really grabs your attention here, with the drums well up in the mix. The bass drum is particularly solid, like dropping bricks on your head.

There's a kind of famous guy doing vocals on this album. Barney Greenway growls his way through the album, in a–typical Death Metal style. It is easy to see why Napalm Death grabbed him permanently after this album. His Hardcore approach to Death Metal vocals made the lyrics easily decipherable, where most death grunts would have rendered them unlistenable. Barney's political awareness surfaced on the track "Divine Ultimatum", making a refreshing break from the satanic and/or gore riddled fare most bands peddled. Elsewhere on the album, there are good doses of blood and guts and Beelzebub, but there are also tales of psychosis and nightmare induced insanity.

To be brutally honest, this album does sound dated, but as a period piece, it is an excellent example of a band already looking to the future of Death Metal while it was still on the rise. This is also on blood and gore splattered vinyl, which is a nice visual touch.