01. X2Y 02. Noise 03. Experience Your Flesh 04. Slaughter/Suicide 05. Spit 06. Defiled Purity 07. Jekyll 08. Collection Of Dead Portraits 09. Carnivore Sublime 10. Les Morsures De Cerbère 11. June And The Laconic Solstice2014 Season Of Mist
by Daniel Marsicano
French death metal act Benighted has strived to outdo the extremity of their music on every album. Though there are glimpses of dynamics pushing away from the mayhem, the band appears to be on the mark when a song reaches the cusp of breaking down. After a handful of albums, it's understandable that the band has discovered what works for them and capitalizes on that. Starting out as a black/death metal hybrid with their eponymous debut, they warped that sound into death metal ransacked by brutality and a general lack of compromise. Their seventh album, Carnivore Sublime, is not so much a progression as it is a fine-tuning. Change is not what this album is about; it's about the primal urge to get stir crazy when the tempo roars to neck-breaking status. This craziness is emitting throughout each of the eleven cutthroat songs. Benighted knows how to give their songs a helping of heaviness that doesn't feel overtly manipulated in the studio. The band never reaches a peak per se, as they keep the intensity on the upper levels all the time. Thankfully, they avoid awkward modern traits, like scratching or rapping, factors they have toyed around with on past albums. What has been exercised from the album is much of the flashy mechanics from an instrumentation view. Their last output, Asylum Cave, had its share of memorable guitar leads and other impressive feats in that style. Hell, that's been a constant holdover from their past records. Most of that is dropped from Carnivore Sublime, which is a disappointing creative decision. Whether it was because they didn't fit into the new songs or the band wanted to emphasize the riffs, taking away one of their best features is an unfortunate choice. Though death metal is their forte, the band occasionally slips into a grind lashing (opener "X2Y"), though not in excessive fashion. The band likes to keep songs pointed, as only two or three tracks break the four-minute mark. When they do, it's usually because of a quick melodic break or a rhythm-heavy section. The latter has been an understated part of the band since the beginning, and while there's nothing to match the jaw-dropping bass work on Icon's "Grind Wit," the title track and "Slaughter/Suicide" give some breathing room to the bass guitar and drums. The title tune also has a surprising tribal-sounding percussion section that somehow fits into the madness contained in the rest of the track. What sets this music apart from other groups trying to make extreme death metal is the enormous range of vocalist Julien Truchan. From inhuman grunts to screeching pig squeals to a hardcore bark, he varies his voice to the point where it's tough to tell that one person had a hand in the vocals department (save for guest spots from Shining's Niklas Kvarforth and Carnal Decay's Michael Kern). Carnivore Sublime may not rank as a fan's favorite Benighted album, but that's more due to the immense quality of their back catalog rather than any missteps here. Benighted does not mess with their formula much, save for the unfortunate lack of memorable lead guitar work. The years have done little to curb the aggression from these guys, and Truchan's vocals have not diminished one ounce. This may not be the outright monster that Asylum Cave or Insane Cephalic Production was, but Carnivore Sublime avoids slipping into retread territory or rehashing past glories. Bottom Line: Another dominating performance from Benighted, though a few questionable decisions on the musical side don't necessarily serve the band well.