Review Summary: An apt title for the maniacal and chaotic nature of this album's sound, Benediction prove that, twenty years after their formation, they still have it in them to create some startlingly good Death Metal.
In 2001, after serving for no less than 11 years as the vocalist of British Death Metal band Benediction, Dave Ingram announced his departure following a major European tour with Death, citing “certain disagreements with the TCI record label”. However, the remaining members of the band hadn’t wasted any valuable time in searching for a replacement vocalist, as Dave Hunt had filled Ingram’s shoes almost immediately after he left-a mere three weeks, to be exact. Many will know that Dave Hunt is no stranger to extreme metal bands, as the venomously charged sounds of Anaal Nathrakh and Mistress have undoubtedly proved, but it is perhaps interesting to wonder how devoted fans of Benediction took the news that Ingram would be replaced in so short a time, and by someone who, at this time, wasn’t that popular as he is now.
This could have been a golden opportunity for Benediction to change the grim and maniacal nature of their trademark Death Metal sound to that of a more Grindcore-influenced one, but with a quick listen of the band’s latest album, “Killing Music”, you’ll certainly be convinced that nothing has changed that much, apart from a somewhat clearer production and lyrics that are more aggressive than ever before. Despite the fact that Hunt’s vocals (on this album in particular) bear an uncanny resemblance to that of Dave Ingram, he does a pretty good job of creating that grim, dreary tone that had been making the band’s sound so memorable and musically satisfying up to this point in Benediction’s career. Though most of the songs do benefit from this similar vocal style, Hunt still manages to inject his own unique voice on the title track, featuring an almost shrill scream that destroys the listener’s ear in a very unpleasant way. What is more obvious than this however is the lyrical content which, for the most part, had been written by Dave Hunt, who also often admits that the lyrics for his most popular band, Anaal Nathrakh, are never really published. However, on songs such as ‘Wrath and Regret’ and ‘Beg, you dogs’, Hunt incorporates a few swear words here and there and tries, like in Anaal Nathrakh, to make you sick to your stomach just by bellowing them at you. Whereas on the former, Hunt almost interacts with the listener by growling that “I could hurl defiance at your corpse but I wouldn't waste my ***ing breath”, he gets straight to the point (!) on the latter and orders you to “beg you dogs-Now who's the bitch, as you *** face down in the dirt”.
Aside from the vocals and the production however, Benediction still sound very much like the young band that formed in 1989. The guitar work courtesy of Brookes and Rewinsky still rips like a chainsaw through the likes of ‘The grey man’, ‘Controlopolis (Rats in the mask)’ and ‘Dripping with disgust’, Neil Hutton’s drums batter their way into ‘They must die screaming’ and ‘Immaculate façade’, and even Healy’s rapid-fire bass work makes itself known in the first few seconds of ‘Seeing through my eyes’, yet isn’t quite as prominent as the other two instruments. What is noticeable here is that the album’s length itself works out as a much shorter one when taking into consideration how long each of the songs were on the band’s previous albums. Whereas the average song length of Benediction’s other albums fall into the four or five minute range, on here it seems that it very barely reaches three minutes’ average song length. That would explain then why the majority of the album’s songs are immediately explosive and don’t offer that much in terms of musical diversity.
The main point here is that if you aren’t a fan of Benediction and never have been, there is very little on “Killing music” that will make you change your mind. If you are a fan, then you should have at least already listened to it. Perhaps the album could have done without the extremely short and unnecessary ‘As her skin weeps’ and ‘Bury the hatchet’, but it only goes to show just how much Benediction have succeeded in their career, and their latest album, “Killing music”, proves that they are still one of the better British Death Metal bands of any time.