In a year as fucked up as this, we need our pillars of security, we need some of our belief in the good old “status quo” to be restored. This is the best moment for a new Benediction album to be released and the guys know it. Scriptures is not only the first new studio album for 12 years, but also the first album with the unmistakable roar of Dave Ingram since 1998’s Grind Bastard.
My faith in a long-absent band has never been restored faster: the opening chords of Iterations Of I (see video below) are THE essence of old school British death metal. Pure magic. The guitar duo and band founders Darren Brookes and Peter Rew are simply sawing your head off with each riff. There is an evil, almost scary rabidness in the way each song grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. Benediction have always been equally good at mid-tempo crushers (Progenitors Of A New Paradigm) or at fast, punk-infused ragers (Rabid Carnality), but what is most amazing here is the constant flow of quality in all the dozen new songs. The production by Scott Atkins is fantastic, bringing forward all the band strengths, without sounding deliberately old school. The completely new rhythm section of bassist Dan Bate and drummer Giovanni Durst (both are also playing in thrashers Omicida) is not only competent and precise – these young men have surely made their veteran bandmates proud of their performances. And what can I say about Dave Ingram, which hasn’t been said before? He is a machine, despite all of the health issues he’s had recently and now makes his probably career best performance in studio.
It would be hard to pinpoint any songs, when they are all so good, but apart from the above-mentioned three, The Crooked Man and Neverwhen are also highlights. The guys’ ability to switch between tempos, always keeping a monstrous groove, is genius. Scriptures is easily the best death metal album from a British band for the past 15 years (yes, it is Those Once Loyal I have in mind) and when you have the strong comebacks of Carcass and Cancer, this means a lot. Benediction have always been a band close to the hearts of true, devoted fans, because they have never betrayed what they believed in, no matter the line-up changes and difficulties. After all the waiting for this album, the fans have been rewarded.