Benighted – Ekbom Review

Springing to life some twenty-five years ago, France’s Benighted have carved a legacy of quality output. From rougher beginnings, the deathgrind powerhouse developed and honed their potently addictive formula to a fine point, throwing down technically proficient, slammy deathgrind fireballs with plenty of gusto, a deliciously unhinged bent, and a pig squealing, asylum rioting sense of fun. In a richly competitive modern extreme metal and deathgrind field, Benighted stood out as a personal favorite and remarkably consistent act, remaining an underrated force that don’t get the credit they deserve. Tenth LP Ekbom arrives following a couple of high-quality back-to-back bangers that didn’t quite reach the peak levels of outstanding albums such as 2006’s bludgeoning Identisick, or 2011’s masterwork Asylum Cave, yet were stellar albums, nonetheless.

Keeping trend with recent releases, Ekbom offers few surprises while the brutality, intensity and top-shelf musicianship burn as brightly as ever. Benighted couple brutal death and slam with a lethal, punk-infused dose of deathgrind, further excelling in their ability to instill creepy atmosphere and disturbed lyrical themes/imagery into uncompromisingly heavy yet infectious tunes that still know how to have a good time. Transcending the dumb fun label they’re often saddled with, Benighted’s watertight formula features more than enough technical fireworks, clever dynamic twists, and variables to completely fall into boneheaded realms. Benighted have remained a model of consistency for the best part of their career, with nothing ever feeling forced or phoned in. Ekbom is no exception.

“Scars” unloads explosive bursts of trademark modern Benighted tropes, leaning into tech-ier territory and sliding from intense, charred black atmospheres that would do Anaal Nathrakh proud, to pulse-pounding speed, as sick, gurgling grooves set in. Hooks are scattered plentifully amidst the chaos, as the ludicrously fast rhythms and neck-snapping grooves of “Nothing Left to Fear” attests, featuring an inspired vocal appearance from motor mouthed Archspire frontman Oliver Rae Aleron, a perfect foil to the mangled and versatile vocal chops of Julien Truchan. Ekbom is a precise, bone-jarringly heavy affair, leveraging Benighted’s extreme inclinations and relentless speed with cranium-crushing beatdowns and subtle shreds of melody and technical nuance. The tight runtime makes repeat listens a must and the largely filler-free album refuses to let up. “Le Vice des Entrailles” harnesses Benighted’s most vicious traits into a ripping blackened deathgrind construction, with brutality cranked for maximum impact. Elsewhere, “A Reason for Treason” leans into their punky, grind side with head-stomping bouts of slam and the album’s most bludgeoning grooves. “Scapegoat” hooks, stabs, and pummels in equal measure, while the machine-gunning speed and tech flourishes of “Flesh Against Flesh” are skillfully offset with fun moments of slam-infested deathgrind mayhem.

Despite only the versatile, twisted pipes of Truchan remaining from the original line-up, the current incarnation of Benighted remains solid and performances are on point. Kevin Paradis is an exceptional drummer, propelling their speed-laced, groove-heavy assault with lightning footwork and effortless shifts in rhythm and tempo, amidst creative drum patterns. A phenomenal beast of a vocalist, Truchan’s impressive range stretches across the extreme metal spectrum. Sure, the pig squeals will no doubt rub some people the wrong way, though they aren’t over-used. However, it’s his array of guttural growls, gurgles, rotten eruptions, and glass-shattering shrieks that steal the show and create a formidable stream of extreme vocal flair and variety. Meanwhile, Emmanuel Dalle’s axework stays true to Benighted’s deathgrind roots, infusing infectious riffcraft and technical prowess with punk, black, and brutal death embellishments.

As usual, Benighted’s sonic profile is of the clean and polished variety, almost to a fault on Ekbom, while the throwaway intro track and slow-to-get-going closer mark the only songs that don’t quite hit the mark. Meanwhile, Benighted’s over-the-top brutality and occasional BREEEE BREEEE vocals will remain divisive. Nevertheless, Ekbom marks another quality addition to an entertaining and consistent all-round discography. Benighted remain stubbornly persistent within their chosen craft and mode of gleeful destruction. Ekbom may fall marginally short of the high standards of their past few albums, though it hardly rates as a disappointment due to the band’s lovable x-factor and consistently brutal, engaging songwriting. While long-standing contemporaries and deathgrind veterans Aborted may get more accolades, I encourage the uninitiated to dive headlong into Ekbom and Benighted’s stellar catalog for a primo, chunkified dose of deathgrind supremacy.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 12th, 2024

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