Monday, 12 March 2012

BENEDICTION - Transcend The Rubicon (1993)

01  Unfound Mortality        
02  Nightfear        
03  Paradox Alley        
04  I Bow To None        
05  Painted Skulls        
06  Violation Domain        
07  Face Without Soul        
08  Bleakhouse        
09  Blood From Stone        
10  Wrong Side Of The Grave        
11  Artefacted/Spit Forth

*Re-Issue Bonus Tracks*
12  Saneless Theory        
13  Deadfall

Transcend the Rubicon is the third album by British death metal band Benediction (formed 1989). It was released in 1993 and re-released in 2000 by Nuclear Blast. The album's release was followed by the extensive "World Violation" tour with Cemetery and Atheist throughout Europe, USA, Canada and Israel. The cover art was created by none other than Mr. Dan Seagrave.

Early nineties’ Benediction was a band that relied heavily on “open” aka non palm-muted riffing, contrary to most American old school bands, and “Transcend the Rubicon” is chock full of dense, sawing riffage that makes the songs retain a steady, pushing drive. The single riffs may be less rhythmically intricate than some contemporaries’, but the songwriting is intelligent enough to seamlessly move from one part to another – and when they finally let the palm-muted thrash riffs loose, fuck me sideways with a jackhammer, do they rip! Listen to “I Bow To None” – it doesn’t only sport an awesome title, but also showcases the aforementioned qualities perfectly around the 2:40 mark. This, ladies and gents, is how you write a perfect thrash break. What I also love about Benediction and this record are Dave Ingram’s vocals. His delivery of guttural yet comprehensible shouts billows around the music without detracting too much attention but when taken into focus, it still sounds awesome.

One particular feature, however, that makes Transcend the Rubicon something pretty special, something more than just another solid Death Metal record, is that it somehow manages to be both monotonous and varied at the same time. Although none of the songs stray from the trademark Benediction formula, this album isn’t predictable at all – alternating between slow, at times almost Doom-like tracks such as “Painted Skulls” and fast thrashers such as “Unfound Mortality” or “Paradox Alley,” as well as throwing in lots of well-placed breaks during most of the songs, the band succeeds in keeping things interesting. Every song is easily recognizable and stand-alone, quite a feat for an album that stays true to the same formula from start to finish. The band would go on to replicate this successfully, but to a lesser extent on follow up album "The Dreams You Dread".

All in all, this is one of my personal favourite death metal releases and pretty much the best Britain had to offer. Benediction didn't re-invent the wheel here, but they ended up recording a very straight-forward, accessible collection of death metal songs which had their own sound stamped all over it. I would say these guys are great for an introduction to the genre, to ease a listener in and I would highly recommend giving this album a spin...

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