Originally written by Erik Thomas.
“Why are you so brutal to me?”
And thus asks the fitting opening sample from “Complete Exsanguination”, the short sharp opening salvo on Benighted’s latest and best effort, the aptly named Icon.
Arguably the best death metal band no one knows about, France’s Benighted has been impressing me now since I heard Insane Cephalic Production (their third album) and then its vastly improved follow up, Identisick. And now with Icon, it’s safe to say that Benighted should finally be considered one of death metal’s very elite young bands.
What makes Benighted so good, above and beyond their superb grasp of all things death metal (blasts, growls, grooves, feral complexity, tight musicianship) is their ability to be just cutting edge enough and possess adventurous elements to make them stand out. For example their borderline power chord, grindcore injections (modern Cephalic Carnage comes to mind) of pure fury (“Slut”, “Saw It All”, “Smile Then Bleed” “The Underneath”) and technical, lumbering death metal savagery (“Forsaken” and the simply killer stop start riff of the title track) mixes with surprisingly lucid moments of melody (“Invoxhate”) and experimentation (the mid song French groove and harmony that close “Grind Wit”), that make each track a different and often unexpected listening experience. Heck, standout closer “Blindfolded Centuries” even has a sweeping arpeggio amid its bludgeoning assault.
Admittedly, Icon isn’t quite as technical as Identisick was, with its almost Decapitated like prose at times, and seems far heavier on the grindcore element and straight up furor, with the same beefy low end production, confidence and wry humor, but still shows the band are as creative within the constraints of brutality as any band playing death metal right now.
Benighted are just perfect at delivering any chosen form of audio massacre they choose at this point in their discography, and while bigger death metal acts are stuck in ruts or repetition, its good to know that Benighted are pushing themselves and the genre and becoming one of the very best, yet underrated death metal bands around right now.