"Dead killed himself because he lived only for the true old Black Metal scene and lifestyle. It means black clothes, spikes crosses and so on...But today there are only children in jogging suits and skateboards and hardcore moral ideals, they try to look as normal as possible. This has nothing to do with black, these stupid people must fear Black Metal! But instead they love shitty bands like DEICIDE, BENEDICTION, NAPALM DEATH, SEPULTURA and all that shit!!!" – Euronymous, quote taken from the "Lords of Chaos" book on the topic of MAYHEM's lead singer Dead and why he killed himself.
Truth be told, I don't think that blaming BENEDICTION is a reason to blow your brains out. I mean I can think of worst bands that are within the same genre of Death Metal that BENEDICTION somewhat currently is active in whenever they feel like it. I mean, if it took a band like BENEDICTION to do that to someone, I wonder what he would do if he listened to a band like SUICIDE SILENCE who have nothing to do with Death Metal.....reason I'm saying this is that BENEDICTION is and are one of those bands that got shat on during Death Metal's glory days. They were within that certain group along the likes of MORGOTH (Germany), GOREFEST (Netherlands), AFFLICTED (Swe), etc. And I believe that this may have come from the fact that they didn't come til after the first wave of Death Metal bands which consisted of DEATH, POSSESSED, MASTER, MANTAS, MASSACRE, DEVASTATION (Chicago), NIHILIST (pre-ENTOMBED), DEATH STRIKE, MORBID ANGEL, AUTOPSY, etc. In fact you could call them part of the second wave which didn't start up until the last two or three years of the 80s where they were at the tail-end of that first wave, but BENEDICTION released their first album in 1990 so what gives? Why weren't they any bigger? The same could be said for another band that I previously reviewed which was TIAMAT from Sweden. Plus BENEDICTION stuck to their UK take on Florida's MASSACRE which not only them but a couple other UK bands took massive influence from as well. May be their lyrics weren't uber gorey enough. May be they didn't receive as much support from Nuclear Blast as say HYPOCRISY. Come to think of it, HYPOCRISY were the only band in that time frame that did get more of a bigger attention span than the other acts on Nuclear Blast at the time which consisted of MASTER, IMPULSE MANSLAUGHTER, ABOMINATION, RIGHTEOUS PIGS, DEFECATION, MESSIAH (Swiss), PUNGENT STENTCH, HYPOCRISY (Swe), SINISTER (Bel), AFFLICTED (Swe), MONSTROSITY, etc. So may be that may have been the case....still out of all of those reasons I gave, BENEDICTION had every fucking chance to be right up there at least next to say BOLT THROWER. So many factor's yet so little answers.
BENEDICTION again play an extremely straight-forward style of Death Metal in the simple vein of Florida's MASSACRE (another band that didn't get as much cred back in the day....WTF? Again personal opinion) and that's about as far as BENEDICTION goes. BENEDICTION did nothing fancy. Didn't bring in keyboards (i.e. NOCTURNUS), didn't have a fake Satanic imagery (i.e. DEICIDE), and didn't have the goriest lyrics (i.e. CARCASS)....may be this is what held them back. I mean they got major kudos from Chuck Schuldiner (do I even have to say what band he was in at this point?) as being "straight-forward, no-bullshit Death fucking Metal." Even in BENEDICTION's early days they had the what-was-to-be future NAPALM DEATH lead singer Mark "Barney" Greenway. Something's not adding up still. First demo was 1989's "Dreams You Dread", then followed a year later by their Nuclear Blast debut album "Subconscious Terror" featuring for the last time Barney Greenway on vocals....lyrics dealt with a more horror theme than gore or satanic theme....you know what I give up at this point trying to find an excuse due to why they never got bigger. May be it just wasn't meant to be. If could have simply had been the case where when they came out, their music wasn't looked upon as ground-breaking, or light-years ahead of everyone or something that made them stand-out from the other bands at the time. Regardless they were a good band. Now by 1993 when DM had reached its apex in terms of commercial success, BENEDICTION had not only their demo, but another album "The Grand Leveller" which was a step-up and a follow-up E.P. called "Dark Is The Season" that year BENEDICTION were to release the album they are best known for and basically their fan base favorite "Transcend The Rubicon." It had everything a Death Metal album could have had at the time...take that back. It had a Dan Seagrave cover which I might add is one of my more personal favorite Dan Seagrave illustrations next to GORGUTS "Considered Dead." And the studio they went to was the go-to studio that every other band went to record such classics such as "Left Hand Path" and "Cause Of Death"....in Rhythm Studios??? So they didn't pick Morrisound or Sunlight....still doesn't take away the Morrisound-influence it has on the damn-near perfect ENTOMBED "Clandestine" sound....ok, I'll stop and go ahead and say it. BENEDICTION didn't know what they wanted as far as sound goes. So that's the main reason of how and why they got shat on. Where as a band like ENTOMBED, OBITUARY, DEICIDE, CARCASS, DEATH, AUTOPSY, NAPALM DEATH....etc.etc.etc. You knew who sounded like what. All these bands had clearly defined themselves as far as style, sound, and they varied each other amongst those style in meaning that you could easily put on one of their album and automatically know what band it was without a shadow of a doubt in your mind. This is one thing that BENEDICTION lacked and that's what caused them more harm then good because by 1993 the genre Plus with the 2nd wave of Black Metal clearly rising and burning their name into the history books....BENEDICTION just simply got caught between two opposing forces and not just them but a lot of other bands. And it happens to more bands than you might realize.
Musicians-wise....what did the other band members go on to do so? It seems like BENEDICTION has this thing with lead singers go onto more bigger bands. NAPALM DEATH being for the starter and long-time lead singer Dave Ingrahm singing for one-time album deal with U.K's BOLT THROWER on their killer "Honour, Valor, Pride"...and that's it. The other members of the band didn't didn't go on to do anything else. May be MEATHOOK SEED but that's it. Even the bands the came from. Anyone remember CEREBAL FIX? :hears crickets chirping: That's what I thought. Pigeonholing yourself in one band and never differentiating from that one main band isn't a good way as far as spreading your name around the music genre(s) so another strike against them. Even though I LOVE "Transcend The Rubicon" and is one of my more personal favorite DM albums of the 90's, guitarists Peter Rew and Dreen Brookes, bassist Frank Healy, and drummer Ian Tracey don't have a style or styles that makes them stand-out from any other musician where you knew Jon Tardy's voice, of Trey Azagtoth's guitars, Shane Embury's bass, etc. BENEDICTION didn't do anything outside of what MASSACRE did with with Earache album "From Beyond". Down-tuned guitars, double-bass, blastbeats, skank beats, and it pains me to not go into further analysis of this but again this is BENEDICTION we are talking about.
Ok, let's get onto the songs on here. 11 of them on here starting off with "Unfound Mortality" with it being an excellent opener that sums up the rest of the album more or less. The first thing that one notice's is Dave Ingrahm's vocals where it's obvious of the Kam Lee style and the obvious Barney Greenway influence whom was also influenced by Kam Lee of MASSACRE as well. Dave's got a more of a reverb back his growl so at least we can say that's one good thing that stands out so far. He throws in a few Tom G. Warrior grunts here and there. The next few songs ("Nightfear," "Paradox Alley," "I Bow To None," and "Painted Skulls") gives us a very fun, playful and Brutal Death Metal that is no frills. It varies with the songs breakdowns, blastbeats, thrash beats, etc. The song "Violation Domain" is the absolute standout song on "Transcend The Rubicon" in it being a more death n roll style of ENTOMBED's "Wolverine Blues" with an extra chuggy-fucking breakdown. Like really fucking heavy. Like it will be the one breakdown I know will be stuck in your head for a good while. The next 3 song are much like the others I have already explained in not really be any different until we come to the song "Wrong Side Of The Grave" which is a cover from Seattles Thrash-Punk proto Grindcore act THE ACCUSED. It stays to the original and having a dirtier production and injecting a more 90's flavor to it. The last song "Artefacted/Spit Forth" doesn't do any sort of change. Which isn't a bad thing because they pull no punches, but again which didn't help them as far as getting shat on upon.
So the band members didn't uphold an ancient code of dressing in all black, spikes, bullet belts and satanic symbols. So the band members didn't really do much outside of their main band. So the band didn't record the album at Sunlight, Morrisound, didn't have the best timing, didn't try and push themselves to really stand-out amongst Death Metal's elite group and facilitate themselves enough to withstands Black Metal's fire and fury into the later part of the 90's. So they just flat-out didn't do a lot of things.....at the end of the day, you gotta still have to respect a band who basically stuck to their guns as far as what they wanted to do in the eyes of many and you honestly cannot say anything bad about that. And I think that is what I truly believe why BENEDICTION got flak and didn't get the respect they deserved because they didn't turn melodic, they didn't do anything outside of performing no bullshit, no fringes, STRAIGHT-UP FUCKING DEATH METAL. And it's that reason alone that I enjoy "Transcend The Rubicon” even to this day. If I need a healthy dosage of Death Metal amongst the ever-changing world of Metal in all its shapes and forms, I know an album I can always blast in total FTW mode. Get this album, you will not be disappointed.
(Online August 8, 2012)