“Ground Slayer” begins this solid-but-christened release with a nice array of power and discordance. Tight syncopated drum work gives the song a smooth feel despite a challenging time signature, and the riffs contain interesting note choices that cause unexpected shifts in mood and texture. Vocalist Ilkka offers a tolerable assortment of shrills, growls, and hypnotic vocal harmonies that meld a distinctive and interesting sound throughout BENEA REACH’s debut release.
In terms of complaints the guitars sound completely rack-mounted and lack emotion. For a recording that boasts three guitarists “Monument Bineothan” fails to present listeners with a wall of sound or texture. Most songs contain a steady level of crunch and seldom do any individual parts contribute greatly to the whole. The drums are not evenly mixed, and tracks like “Inheritor” allow changes in tempo to dissipate the feel of certain movements simply to supply listeners with something different. With that said, striving for surprise harvests a few rewards.
In “Transmitter” drummer Marco Storm smoothly transitions snare beats from the fifth to the third count of an eight-eight time signature. Many songs feature seamless transitions from straight thrashing to organized dissonance, and higher-pitched vocal textures interplay nicely with the dropped tunings that dominate this release.
An interesting but incidental flaw lies in each one-word song title implying a grander vision than the composition merits. “River,” for example, has little flow and moves more at a stream’s pace. A Metalcore work titled “Pandemonium” should overwhelm the listener with time signature changes, utter chaos and discordance – but it doesn’t. This common overstatement sums up the disappointment that fans of former EXTOL mastermind Christer Espevoll will feel when taking in “Monument Bineothan” for the first time, but given a second chance the songs have their merits.
“Torch” delivers a signature-series of riffs that undoubtedly played a key role in earning BENEA REACH a nomination for the Norwegian Spellemann Awards. The track pivots between high and low frequencies, and when the bass comes in the song truly kicks. Vocal harmonies provide nice accents to the Progressive-style chorus while a few discordant riffs provide EXTOL fans a taste of homage. “Conflux” offers some nice lead experimentation over an ethereal passage, topped nonetheless with a treatise about the formation of a convent. The release voices many secular themes but lyrically matches the mood of the music by focusing on the darker elements of religion and its impact on modern culture.
“Monument Bineothan” offers great promise for the future of Metalcore and Progressive Death Metal. It flows freely through sludge and ambience while further developing many of the musical concepts that have made modern secular works successful. While the drums occasionally detract, founder Marco Storm serves as the main justification for purchasing this release. His intricate experimentation yields some nice surprises, and with future releases BENEA REACH will earn the praise they have already received.
(Online April 18, 2007)