Title: Obscene Repressed
Label: Season of Mist
Release Date: 10 April 2020
Format Reviewed: Digital Stream
When it comes to great purveyors of Metal, France may not be one of the first places we would look to. For sure though great music can come from anywhere. Hailing from Saint-Etienne, Benighted have been churning out vile slabs of gruesome nastiness since their Black Metal infused, self-titled debut in 2000. 20 years and 8 albums later we arrive at their latest release “Obscene Repressed” and we have here a grotesque beast indeed, one that’s fast, heavy as you could wish for, surprisingly varied and refreshingly intent (it seems) to not take itself too seriously.
From their raw beginnings Benighted have reached a point of technical precision on this album, combined with slamming savagery. There are no shortage of brutalising Death Metal and Grindcore (or perhaps even Deathcore) riffs, chugging on top of ridiculously fast (almost certainly triggered) drums. Check out “Nails” for a relentless trip down a bloodied Metal flume of razor blades, that dumps you in a swimming pool of guts and viscera, or “Muzzle” with the sound of a million hammers battering your skull. Sometimes the pace of riffing can be dizzying, but what’s great and surprising about this album is the unexpected variety. Whether it’s the sudden, brief, jazzy interlude of the above mentioned track, or the elegant acoustic guitar opening to “Brutus” (seemingly a bit of a joke as it leads into the spoken “mom I made something beautiful for you” passage, before launching into a remorseless hammerfest), or the part tribal/ part industrial sound to the opening of “Imploring the Negative”, or just the way that the band goes from fiendishly fast Grindcore passages, to stomping groove breakdowns, this is never dull or predictable.
Fans of extreme music will hear references to of many of their favourite bands here, such as the very “Altars of Madness” era Morbid Angel sounding opening to “The Starving Beast”, or the mid 90s Napalm Death sound of “Muzzle” (not to mention the little Celtic Frost invoking “ugh” that kicks the track off). In terms of the overall sound of the album, if you enjoy Cryptopsy and Cannibal Corpse you should really dig this. Vocalist Julien Truchan takes a few pages out of the George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher book of extreme, guttural vocals, with some great, visceral screams thrown in too. And if you want to hear ridiculously low, monsterish vocals check out the second half of “Scarecrow” as the band takes the pace down to a brutally slow churn.
Although there are plenty of classic Death Metal and Grindcore reference points in the music, it has to be said that this is an extremely modern sounding record, both with the clear (though still extremely brutal) production, and the way the band incorporates a blend of many styles into their pummelling sound. “Mom, I Love the The Wrong Way”, is a prime example with a flavour of Black Metal in places, alongside a squealing guitar lead, some almost Industrial sounding moments and thrashy Death Metal riffing. Maybe the Deathcore tag is an appropriate one to give the band, as the guitar solos are less frequent than on a lot of straight up Death Metal and the tracks are quick to shift from one part to the next, while on the otherhand the Grindcore elements are just one feature of the overall sound and there are these occasional Hardcore elements to be found from time to time too (such as the aggressive vocals in “Implore the Negative”. I guess it should be clear that I’m not quite sure how to categorise this music, but that’s no bad thing in my mind as what the band does on this album they do really well, whatever you want to call it.
Perhaps some purists may not take to the fusion of styles the band has put together, but altogether this is an impressively gripping ride through a nightmarish world of brutal Metal with no lack of creativity and versatility. To find an album that doesn’t let the levels of intensity slip, while keeping chock full of memorable riffs and interesting quirks and changes of direction is a very welcome surprise in 2020. If you like your Metal nasty, battering and colourful step right this way. 8.5/10 Tom Boatman
8.5/10 : To Greatness and Glory!
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