Friday, 11 May 2012

BENEDICTION - The Grand Leveller (1991)

01  Vision In The Shroud    
02  Graveworm    
03  Jumping At Shadows    
04  Opulence Of The Absolute    
05  Child Of Sin    
06  Undirected Aggression    
07  Born In A Fever    
08  Grand Leveller    
09  Senile Dementia    
10  Return To The Eve

'The Grand Leveller' is the second album by the death metal band Benediction and the first to feature Dave Ingram on vocals. It was released via Nuclear Blast Records October 10th 1991. The band was formed in February 1989 by Paul Adams (bass), Peter Rew (guitar), Darren Brookes (guitar), and Mark "Barney" Greenway (vocals). With the demo 'The Dreams You Dread', released in the same year, they drew the interest of Nuclear Blast, resulting in a record deal. Their first album, 'Subconscious Terror', was released in 1990, followed by the departure of Barney, who joined Napalm Death. The debut was received fairly well and a new singer, Dave Ingram, was found soon after. An extensive touring schedule in 1991 saw the band touring with Bolt Thrower and Nocturnus.

On 'Subconscious Terror' everything seemed so bland and predictable. I don't recall any moment where my head was banging or I was intrigued by a single solo or riff. On this record, however, Benediction decided to change things up structure wise. Not every song is written in the same fashion, and there is plenty of variety to be found here, riff-wise anyway. The undeniable Bolt Thrower influence is present once those doomy melodies on the phenomenal "Jumping At Shadows" enter the fray, while "Opulence of the Absolute" features some great tremolo sections that would make the American masters proud, as well as some midpaced riffs that are absolutely crushing. 'The Grand Leveller' is most reminiscent of the band's fellow countrymen Bolt Thrower in it's creeping, midpaced mayhem but the title track here shows off the band's ability to go at much faster tempos and it sounds awesome.

Even though the debut full-length of Benediction featured the legendary Barney Greenway of Napalm Death fame, the vocals on 'The Grand Leveller' fit the music much better. Dave Ingram's vocal performance here adds a darker atmosphere to the sound, whereas Barney didn't really add anything to the music, he was just growling in front of the already mediocre music. The drumming on here isn't much to brag about, but it did it's job just fine so no complaints here. The bass is pretty good throughout, thumping along audibly while also providing some nice fills on the intros to "Born in a Fever" and "Jumping At Shadows." Some might complain about the overall comparison of Benediction to the more well known Bolt Thrower because it makes them seem like a subordinate, but it's definitely a compliment. 'The Grand Leveller' is a fantastic death metal record and one of the best to come from the UK, so if you haven't heard these guys then you now have some homework to do.

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