Review Summary: About as conflicting as a brutal black metal album comes.
Benighted is a band much renown for their schizophrenic brand of grind/death metal, with vocalist Julien sounding like someone who just overloaded themselves with Hulks rage gene, pummeling drums and some fun, savage riffs. They are primarily all bash and no flash, and this album does little to disprove that statement. However that raw finesse is gone in favor of some slightly murkier production, very sub-par cackles and shrieks, and some rather poorly done mixing (especially on the drums). Benighted sounded like the experimental love child of Cradle of Filth, Cryptopsy, and Napalm Death, which is about as conflicting as it sounds. As I stated, Benighted does little to disprove their sheer energy and brutality off this album, but the way it's executed sounds more like a band still deciding on whether they want to produce pterodactyl sounds like Dani Filth or whether they want dirty gutturals more in the vein of Lord Worm.
All of the good and bad off this record is present off the first track. It sounds primal and moves along at lightning fast pace at points. The passion and excitement is there, however when piercing shrieks shift into dense gutturals, all the while being backed being backed by some rather static sounding tremolos, it becomes evident there is a conflict of musical styles clashing with one another. This continues through the whole run time of the album, making for a rather segmented inconsistent album. There are some amazing sections, don't get me wrong. This is perhaps what makes this album rather frustrating. For example, near the end of "Diabolical Reign of the Four Fallen Angels" there is a blazing solo that really flaunts the technical performance of the guitar, as does the vigorous drums and riffs off "Werewolf's Nightmare". It proves the album has the potential to flourish into something truly powerful, but then comes the misplaced gutturals once again to remind you that Benighted is basically going through a genre power struggle.
What serves to only empower this awkward struggle are some boring, insipid dungeon-esque synths placed in the worst of places. They quite literally are the ending track "Infernal Killings". Even if the album never really got the ball rolling, it's still flat enough that it feels anti-climactic. Thankfully, these synthesizers only show themselves on a few tracks, but are still detrimental considering this album is only 31 minutes long. Even more thankfully, they never show themselves on Benighted's albums again. It'd be fine if they produced the harrowing sound they aim for, but instead they sound rather empty and hollow.
There is one positive thing to derive from this album, and it's just how impressive Benighted's improvement and ability to meld styles has become. You really have to wade through a lot of poorly implemented pieces of music on this album just to find five or six minutes worth of gold, however for a major Benighted fan, it's worth it for curiosities sake. As for everyone else, if the idea of Mayhem collaborating with Aborted sounds good to you, then you will dig what may be Benighted's most polarizing album.