May 8, 2008 | | 4

Benighted, Icon

There’s something about this fifth album from France’s Benighted that I just couldn’t put my finger on. Sure its spastic approach to death metal leans heavily on grind, hardcore and thrash, but there’s that little something extra blaring from this disc that is so obvious it’s easy to miss. It took a few listens, but it finally hit me like a nail studded 2×4 to the temple. Each track on Icon has a very measurable, fist full of insanity thrown into the mix. I mean who the hell else would be nutty enough (or ballsy enough) to randomly throw in Limp Bizkit flavored lines of rap into the midst of a churning, furious hurricane of a track.

Benighted at their core is one hell of a brutal band. Their take on death metal mixes heavy doses of chugging grindcore, catchy as hell riffing and a vocal delivery from Julien Truchan that is unrivaled by most. His vocals teeter on the precipice of the erratic rambling s of an institutionalized psychotic. His delivery combined with the crushing rhythms and sickening riffs make for one hell of listen.

Complete Exsanguination
The band’s opening track serves as just a taste of what is to come on the remaining tracks. After a brief sound clip that asks the simple question, “What are you so brutal to me?” the band erupts with a short series of screams and chaotic riffs and drums.

“Slut” opens up with pummeling drums, driving riffs and guttural growls. Truchan shifts deliveries several times through the track reaching higher end shrieks as well as demonic growls. There’s a nice lead at the one minute mark right before and during a catchy chorus. Who knew that shrieked vocals could carry such melody. The start stop riffing over the punk like bass is a nice touch. There’s a huge breakdown just before the end of the track.

Grind Wit
This next one definitely has a rap beat to it with crusty bass before descending into the mouth of madness. This thing is a grinding mass of guitar noise and devastating drum work. The vocals take a turn for the brutal death metal fan right before one of the catchiest series of riffs starts out. They remind me a great deal of Fear Factory’s cover of “Cars” for some odd reason. The series reappears shortly after the lone bit of rapping on the album (a truly surreal experience) at the 2:53 mark. I can’t get enough of it (not the rapping, but the riffage)!

Saw It All
“Saw It All” jumps back into the fray after the previous track faded slowly. Big screams join in quickly. The riffing throughout the first half of this track are memorable and thrash fueled. There’s a nice bit of guitar work right after the one minute mark accompanied by a series of screams. I’ve got to say, I am completely impressed with Truchan’s delivery. He really has quite a command on his delivery. The track ends as guitars fade.

Subtle guitar and drum work greets the listener with this next track. The 30 second mark sees the bad once again descend into madness with churning riffs and chaotic drums before a memorable riff comes in with the vocals. In between the spastic bursts there’s a slick underlying groove and cadence that’ll have you head banging along is a frenzy.

Smile Then Bleed
“Smile Then Bleed” essentially starts off in breakdown mode with thick riffs and drums. There are some creative guitar highlights throughout this track, including one hell of a catchy riff as the vocals come in. I love the thick bass lines that rear their nasty head periodically during the duration of this song. There’s some nice riffing at the 2:26 mark.

Pledge of Retaliation
Chugging riffs and animalistic drums start this next song off intensely. It’s hard to believe that the band is able to get any more aggressive, but they certainly outdo themselves solidly with this one. The band’s chaotic descents into hell are just that much more insane. It’s songs like this that make Icon nearly impossible to pull out of the disc player — it’s got everything you could ever want in a heavy song.

The title track starts off with a slick bit of guitar work and heavy handed drums before the band shifts into thrash gear. There’s a thick, viscous layer of industrial sludge all over this one. The lead at the 1:30 mark is pretty sick and sludgy. There’s a crazy bit of groove just after the two minute mark that’ll surely snap a few ligaments in your neck.

Human Circles
A deep growl and staggered riffing gets this one going before the band settles into a Sepultura like bit of guitar work (around the :17 mark). Chugging riffs quickly ensue as the band slows the pace down a bit to rusty blender speed. Again, there’s more great groove oriented metal in this song.

A full on griding assault hits with a ton of bricks as “Invoxhate” opens up. There’s a quick breakdown right at the 30 second mark. Some of the gnarliest vocal deliveries I’ve heard in a while greet the listener at the one minute point of this song. Be on the look out for a lengthy and sick solo at the 2:15 mark.

The Underneath
Grinding rhythms start off “The Underneath” as a high end shriek is let loose and continues into the the lyrical delivery. That’s some crazy screaming right there. There are several tempo changes throughout this one that’ll have you jumping all over the place where you sit.

Blindfolded Centuries
The final song on this incredible release has a pretty beefy start to it. Technical riffing and drums dominate this one as guttural vocals growl. The track ends abruptly leaving you drooling and twitching for more.

~ ~ ~

I’ve had this album playing steadily in rotation for a few weeks now. It’s contagious grooves, pummeling mosh and all out intensity is only matched by the band’s willingness to experiment with edgy elements. I guaran-damn-tee you that once this disc is playing in your stereo it’ll be damned hard to get it out again.

Favorite Tracks:
All of them

Additional Notes: