Benighted – Obscene Repressed Review

With a career spanning over 20 years, French deathgrind wrecking crew Benighted are very much in the veteran class. This perennial favorite continues delivering top notch material, showing no signs of tempering their gnarled, awesomely potent, and over-the-top formula of brutal deathgrind, replete with oddball treats, technical mastery, gut-busting grooves and tasteful lashings of melody. Within their well established style, Benighted’s superior writing skills and expert riffcraft has largely prevented stagnation. Though certain albums standout more than others, they rarely misfire. 2011’s deliciously brutal and depraved Asylum Cave remains the band’s pinnacle, but after the slightly underwhelming Carnivore Sublime, Benighted returned to form on blistering 2017 opus, Necrobreed. So grab your preferred meat cleaver, strap on your bloodied butcher’s apron, hold the hand sanitizer, and get ready to rumble with another slab of unhinged lunacy as we hack into ninth LP, Obscene Repressed.

Right off the bat Benighted’s trademark intensity, brutality and energy is evident, sounding as pissed off, deranged and inspired as ever. Established fans of the band will likely relish in the bloodied guts spilling from the twisted core of each slicing, dicing and wickedly dynamic composition. Those not previously on board with Benighted’s music will find little to sway them, as Obscene Repressed is a Benighted album through and through, with only the requisite quirks demonstrating the band’s experimental side. Otherwise it’s business as usual, largely continuing the momentum re-established on Necrobreed. Lead-off singles “Nails” and “Brutus” appear back-to-back during the album’s frenetic early throes, and for the uninitiated, they each provide strong examples of their signature style.

Benighted is not your typical brutal act, nor do they deviate far from a formula that’s worked wonders for them and been expertly refined over the years. So it’s always refreshing to hear them bust out some corkscrewing twists, such as the brief jazzy interlude infiltrating the frenzied savagery of the excellent “Muzzle,” bursts of speedy melodeath riffing on “Implore the Negative,” or the blackened streak and sizzling solo punctuating the disturbingly titled, “Mom, I Love you the Wrong Way.” Twisted lyrical themes, connected to a demented storyline, adds to the deranged vibe of the album. Obscene Repressed’s first half may contain the ‘hits’ but the second movement is arguably stronger and more intense. Tracks like “Muzzle,” “Casual Piece of Meat,” and the Anaal Nathrakh-style intensity of “Scarecrow” crank the carnage, while “Undivided Dismemberment” combines gurgling brutal death with nerve-shredding bouts of nasty grind. There’s no real misfires, only a couple of tracks that don’t hit quite as hard as others, but mostly quality remains high. Meanwhile, the slick aesthetics and genre-splicing deviations may ward off traditionalist death metal fans.

While the compact, muscular strengths of Obscene Repressed and its immediate predecessor are tough to separate, this latest offering earns points in the production department. The polished, beefy tones remain, however, the reasonably dynamic master ensures ear bleeding fatigue is not an issue amid the chaos. Performances are razor sharp and Julien Truchan’s extreme vocal acrobatics unload with deadly potency; from grindy shrieks, and occasional pig squeals, to all manner of grunts, growls, screams, gurgles and burps. There’s fun vocal sparring with several guest performers, the most surprising and high profile being Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta, lending his signature hardcore barks to “Implore the Negative.” Axemen Fabien Desgardins and Emmanuel Dalle dish out a bevy of catchy, quality riffs, crisscrossing through various extreme styles with plenty of flair and technical prowess. The duo are aided by a water tight rhythm section, led by an outstandingly tight and creative role from drummer Kévin Paradis.

When I indicated Obscene Repressed features more of the same, albeit in fresh forms, it should also be noted Benighted lean more heavily into the grind components than the last couple of albums, while occasional blackened threads snake through dank, twisting corridors. Benighted skillfully guide the listener through rancid bogs of brutality, razor edged grind, slamming grooves, and everything in between throughout another typically reliable and entertaining album. Obscene Repressed is about on par with its immediate predecessor and hovers near the upper tier of Benighted’s extensive catalog. Through multiple listens, both casual and critical, I’ve still been getting the urge to come back, and the addiction doesn’t look like residing anytime soon.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 1411 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 10th, 2020

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