Benighted - Obscene Repressed
Season Of Mist
Brutal Death/Grind
12 songs (38:24)
Release year: 2020
Benighted, Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat

Back with an impressive ninth album, French brutalisers Benighted have settled into a comfortable state of affairs with each new release after 2007's Icon. No, it won't be quite as good, but it's still supremely entertaining for the genre. And so Obscene Repressed joins these ranks, lesser than the heights previously achieved yet a little better than 2017's Necrobreed and still far more than enough fun to be worthy of a recommend. Benighted always seem to run a little behind the death metal big names; in some ways like a more underground Aborted and hopefully the presence of guest vocalist Jamey Jasta on a track here will bring the band to wider attention. Which is not at all to suggest that Benighted have gone all Hot Topic or are trying to appeal to Hatebreed fans; the heaviness and intensity of their sound has barely changed over the years, and Obscene Repressed fits neatly into their discography.

A concept album about, in the band's words, a schizophrenic young man with a cleft palate and serious oedipal issues, this is as deliciously un-PC as death metal gets without being explicitly pornographic, the opening title track's dripping effects and sudden varied screams leading into galloping death/grind unsettling in a jump-scare way. It's as fast and skilful as we've come to expect from the five-piece, with the built-in unorthodox hooks (here not only including alternate screams and grunts from vocalist Julien and bassist Pierre but also literal retching) ensuring much is packed into these two and a half minutes - you could spend literal paragraphs dissecting each member's contribution to this well-bloodied machine, from the guitarists' able cranking out of riffs to the downright ridiculous drumming from Kévin. The following Nails ups the intensity and despairing atmosphere while intensifying the vocal duo leading the band, a particularly harrowing scream followed by a growled imitation before a grind break, like a more interesting iteration of recent Cattle Decapitation material.

As long-term fans will know, one of the band's strengths is their willingness to throw their sound open to influences far and wide and although never as schizophrenic as the protagonist of the album it still results in a varied, memorable listen. We get acoustic guitar and (brief) spoken word leading into Brutus, which is one of several tracks to give the bass more time in the sun and has a particularly pit-friendly breakdown (one day we'll be reminded what a moshpit is, thanks Coronavirus!) and female moans and guest vocalist Sebastian Grihm (Cytotoxin) on The Starving Beast, to name just two. Each track still has its own personality and impact, even if not to as great an extent as on previous albums; the band really understand pacing and hooks, which is why we get not just an extended percussive opening to Implore the Negative to act as something of a breather, but more of a hardcore feel to the track, meaning that Jasta fits in perfectly before the band return to their usual deathgrind antics on Muzzle (which has its own highlight in a jazzy interlude! Man, Benighted really shower us with treats).

It's about as good a guest spot as you can possibly get, showing a different side to the band and highlighting their strengths without standing out enough to be an album highlight by default (but of course being a very good track in its own right) making you appreciate the non-guest spots even more. Sometimes bands invite a guest in and ruin the rest of their album in comparison; there's a science to this, and Benighted are too long in the game to fall in this trap. Some bands going to these lengths would be accused of showing off or lacking tightness in their writing, but here it all fits in. Another example is how the grandiose blackened vibe of Casual Piece of Meat slots in smoothly thereafter, Benighted then one-upping themselves with the razor-sharp grinding of Scarecrow cutting straight through your ears without needing bells or whistles, before supplying them anyway with a second half that ups the epic factor slightly. And this is all even before we get to the excellently-titled Mom, I Love You the Wrong Way (featuring the album's third guest spot, Disbelief's Karsten Jäger) or the ominous Undivided Dismemberment which manages to instil a subtle air of dread before album finale Bound to Facial Plague storms in and levels all with the best breakdowns on the album. You could quibble about how Obscene Repressed isn't as good and varied as Icon because it doesn't have any French rapping but it's so intense and well-written a ride that even veteran listeners will find it hard to care about such nitpicking. Their best album in a while, Benighted undoubtedly know what they're doing, and those new to the band have a whole discography of grisly delights to catch up on.

Killing Songs :
Nails, Smoke Through the Skull, Muzzle, Scarecrow, Bound to Facial Plague
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Benighted that we have reviewed:
Benighted - Dogs Always Bite Harder Than Their Master (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Benighted - Asylum Cave reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Benighted - Icon reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Benighted - I.C.P. reviewed by Crims and quoted 87 / 100
1 readers voted
Your quote was: 98.
Change your vote

There are 1 replies to this review. Last one on Sat Jun 20, 2020 5:38 am
View and Post comments