Sunday Old School: Benediction
We’ve seen before how Britain played a major part in the development of grindcore by producing such bands as Extreme Noise Terror and Bolt Thrower amongst others, but what about death metal? While the United States arguably produced the most well known death metal bands, the U.K. had some high quality contributions of their own. Everyone knows Scouse noise merchants, Carcass of course, but there’s another band that certainly deserves a mention when talking about the best in British extreme metal, namely, Benediction. Benediction was formed in the city of Birmingham, arguably the birthplace of heavy metal music, in 1989 by bassist, Paul Adams, along with vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway and guitarists Darren Brookes and Peter Rew. They recorded their first demo, "The Dreams You Dread" the same year and quickly garnered interest from German label, Nuclear Blast Records, signing a deal with them soon after. Only a year after they formed, Benediction released their debut full length album, "Subconscious Terror" in 1990, which gained favourable reviews in the metal media and impressed many of their contemporaries, so much so that Napalm Death invited Greenway to join them as their new vocalist, replacing the recently departed, Lee Dorrian, who had left to form the doom metal band, Cathedral.
Now in need of a new frontman, the group turned to fellow Brummie, Dave Ingram to take over behind the microphone. Following live shows with Bolt Thrower and Nocturnus (an American death metal band notable for fusing keyboards with their death metal sound,) the band recorded and released their sophomore album, "The Grand Leveller," in 1991. The record received an even better reception than their debut and helped spread their name in the international death metal scene. Despite the acclaim, Adams decided to leave the band after a tour with Dismember, leaving Brookes to perform bass duties as well as guitars on their next record, an EP entitled, "Dark is the Season." Eventually, they were able to find a new bass player in Cerebral Fix member, Frank Healy, who joined just in time to perform with their band during their first visit to Israel, before making his Benediction recording debut on the group’s third album, "Transcend the Rubicon."
Following another EP, "The Grotesque/Ashen Epitaph," drummer Ian Treacy decided to quit the band owing to personal differences and the group replaced him with Neil Hutton, who instantly made his presence known on a short European tour in early 1995 as part of a Nuclear Blast Records showcase. After Hutton got comfortable on the drum stool, Benediction recorded their fourth album, which was named after their first demo, "The Dreams You Dread," and released it in 1995, after which they soon forged a friendship with American death metal outfit, Death, often accompanying them on tour at the personal request of Death singer Chuck Schuldiner. They then got to work on their fifth album, the somewhat humorously named, "Grind Bastard," which was released in May 1998 and received some of the best reviews of their career to date.
Shortly after "Grind Bastard" hit the shelves however, Ingram decided to leave the group and the band filled his spot with vocalist, Dave Hunt, (who would soon go on to form the bands Anaal Nathrakh and Mistress,) before heading out on another European tour with Death, which would ultimately prove to be the latter band’s last. Hunt would then make his recording debut with Benediction on their 2001 album, "Organised Chaos," which received a somewhat mixed response. The album would prove to be their last for a while, as the band concentrated more on live shows after it’s release, and wouldn’t release a new one until 2008, in the form of, "Killing Music," which also garnered a mixed reaction. Since then, Benediction have mostly been performing live, appearing at such festivals as Bloodstock Open Air and a scheduled performance at next year's, Maryland Death Fest. With no news of a new album emerging as of yet. Fans will certainly be hoping for the band to break this studio silence though, and wishing for yet another slab of brilliant brutality, to stand with some of the best albums in the history of British death metal.
Benediction - "Divine Ultimatum"
Benediction - "Wrong Side of the Grave"
Benediction - "The Grotesque"
Benediction - "Down On Whores"
Benediction - "Deadfall"
Benediction - "Killing Music"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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