Review Summary: With "Transcend the Rubicon" Benediction prove yet again that their status as one of the most promising British Death metal bands of the early 90's is staying put.
Having released “Transcend the Rubicon”, the album that really kick-started their career and touring extensively with the likes of Dismember, Bolt Thrower and Asphyx throughout 1992, Benediction must have been well satisfied with the amount of international acclaim they were getting from both the media and rabid Death Metal fans. In fact, the only thing that probably angered them slightly was, according to an interview with metallian.com, “a fist-fight with label-mates Dismember in Denmark caused by both bands arguing over the touring arrangements”. However, this built-up anger could certainly have caused the maniacal sound of the band’s third and arguably most solid album, “Transcend the Rubicon”.
Like its predecessor, “Transcend the Rubicon”, from the first crushing seconds of opener ‘Unfound mortality’, never stops being as intense and chaotic as possible. Every song opens up explosively with Brookes’ and Rewinsky’s scything guitar attacks and those battering drum rhythms courtesy of Ian Treacy. Every single lyric is growled grimly yet maniacally by Dave Ingram. Every minute of the album’s running time is charged by a menacing sound that just never lets the listener breathe until the last few destructive moments of ‘Artefacted/Spit forth’ are over. However, what makes Benediction’s third effort so different compared to “The grand Leveller” is that the guitar work is so much heavier, and with each and every song getting straight to the point as opposed to building up intensely, it seems that the band on this album really wanted to make their violent and crushing sounds truly stand out and come to the forefront.
As on “The grand leveller”, the vocals never particularly stood out, but thanks to more cohesive song structures and well-written lyrical content, Dave Ingram makes his voice known and consequently flows along with the rest of the menacing sounds. At times, as on the mesmerizing ‘Paradox alley’ and ‘Painted skulls’, his vocals take their time and seem to spit out each particular lyric, whereas on ‘Violation Domain’, he almost races against time when rushing maniacally through the craziness that the lyrical content would suggest. The instruments generally follow on to his style as well, providing a more consistent sound than ever before whilst also making for a crushing atmosphere that although at times seems a little overbearing, is most definitely satisfying. The guitars, drums and bass work don’t appear to stand out any more than they did on “The grand leveller”, yet when they do come together for a generally maddening sound, as on ‘Nightfear’, ‘I bow to none’ and ‘Bleakhouse’, it almost sounds as if the instruments were creating a collective voice themselves.
There’s nothing on “Transcend the Rubicon” that isn’t evident on “The grand leveller”, but everything here is clearly more atmospheric, more crushing and most definitely more consistent than ever before. Perhaps the cover of The Accused’s ‘Wrong side of the grave’ or ‘Face without Soul’ will make you wonder why they weren’t axed from the album in fear of being labelled ‘filler material’, but with “Transcend the Rubicon”, Benediction had once again proved their worth as one of the most prominent British Death Metal albums of the early 90’s. The band would continue to release four more albums in the 90’s, but unfortunately none quite as terrorizing as this album or “The grand leveller”.