Album Review: Benediction – ‘Scriptures’

The rubicon transcended

The last time I seriously considered Benediction must’ve been on their The Grotesque / Ashen Epitaph EP. That was 1994. Now, I know all 27 people who bought and will defiantly defend The Dreams You Dread (and the three albums after it) are already lining up on Facebook to call me derogatory British words they fully don’t understand, but that’s life, and Benediction, for better or worse, have been writing middling, paint-not-peeling music for too long.

Scriptures finds not only the return of frontman Dave Ingram after 21 years away, but founding members/guitarists Peter Rew and Darren Brookes very spirited, as if they’re 19 again. This is still the hardscrabble, workaday (West) Midlands-style of death metal that put Benediction and many famous others on the map—make no mistake. There are no flutes, keytars or light-up electronic hardware to be found on Scriptures. That’s right—this is straight-up, arms-folded, circle-pit death metal from the factory.

It’s as simple as it is effective. Ingram towers over songs like “Iterations of I,” “The Crooked Man,” “We Are Legion” and early single “Rabid Carnality.” And Rew and Brookes are riffing (and soloing!) like they’re the British equivalent of heyday Rick Hunolt and Gary Holt. Indeed, there’s a fresh stab of kinetic energy in Benediction’s eighth full-length. That’s the kind of deal the two guitarists imbued on my fave EP, or maybe they’re feeling the challenge of newcomer/drum whiz Giovanni Dürst, whose previous experience in White Wizzard, Omicida and Monument is providing much-needed thrash-power metal oomph.

Expect not to be floored by innovation or intrepid, progressive ventures into former vocalist Dave Hunt’s scary backyard. What you should be ready for is unadulterated, thrashing death metal the English way.