July 02, 2020

Benighted - Icon (2007)

Country: France
Language: English
Genre: Death Metal, Deathgrind
Style: Brutal Death Metal
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© 2007 Osmose Productions
Review by "Goat" for Metal Reviews.com
Death Metal seems to be going through something of a fallow period at the moment. For every genuinely exciting harbinger of new styles and experimentations, you have ten sub-Job For A Cowboy clones that think that just because they have more MySpace friends than sense their brand of samey Deathcore should be heard. Of course, this is better than the Killswitch unEngaged Metalcore masses that thankfully appear to have vanished overnight, but why should we, the Metal hordes, accept the latest, heavily advertised fad over something that might actually take the genre forwards? Better to stick to the old school and those modern few that manage to kick our aural asses with their individual brands of grunt n’blast!
It’s always a pleasure discovering a great Death Metal band - Benighted, hailing from France, has somehow managed to slip under my radar despite being around for a good ten years, and it’s a mistake that I’m going to rectify immediately by hunting down the band’s other four albums, as if Icon (standing for ‘Infinite Conscience Of Nothingness’ and being based around growler/screamer Julien’s experiences from working in a psychiatric hospital) is anything to go by, they will be absolutely awesome. Coming in at just under forty minutes, Icon is pretty damn close to the perfect Death Metal album, for the most part taking the Brutal Death route but adding so many little experimental touches that it avoids the clichés of that genre and becomes an altogether new beast.
There’s clearly been a great deal of thought behind this – look at intro track Complete Exsanguination, which starts with ambience and a woman forlornly asking ‘why are you so brutal to me?’ before breaking forth in chaotic Grindcore, seamlessly flowing into next track Slut which mixes old-school brutality with some very catchy groove and melody, approaching the throne of prime-time Cryptopsy at times – and I don’t say that lightly. A crushing Hardcore breakdown and it’s practically all over at less than three minutes long, yet it’s delivered with such style and skill that you’re left breathless. The band is on fire instrumentally, guitarists Olivier and Liem playing a range of riffs and styles with ease, and drummer Kikou showing masses of variety and precision – even bassist Kevin’s steady rumble is audible, and keeps the whole structure aloft.
Icon keeps the quality level high throughout – each and every track is a killer. Grind Wit would make Ed Gein jealous with its bass intro, deranged stop-start mechanics and even some French rapping, come and gone in the blink of an eye and working perfectly within the confines of the song, such as they are. I personally loved it, and odds are that you will too once you hear it. Forsaken takes a more atmospheric, almost Deftonesy route for the intro before turning into a catchy Goregrind anthem, and Pledge Of Retaliation’s false ending will playfully confuse. The title track starts out like recent In Flames, with thrashy riffs that are buried under growls and blastbeats, whilst album closer Blindfolded Centuries beats Decapitated at its game single-handedly.
If there’s an overall feeling that you get from Icon, it’s that of an experienced, absolutely professional band having as much fun making Death Metal as it is to listen to it, from the first time you put it on to the tenth, twentieth, more. Seasoned brutalists will be in heaven, newcomers will be in awe. In a fair world, Benighted would be as big as Aborted in the post-Brutal rankings; as it is, it falls to us underground types to spread the word, and what a ripping, headbanging, killer gospel it is… Icon deserves every platitude, every word, every damn syllable of praise that it receives. Buy it, now!

tags: benighted, icon, 2007, flac,