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Review: Benediction - The Grand Leveller
The Grand Leveller

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 1991
Duration: 44:35
Tracks: 10
Genre: Death Metal

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: January 30, 2010
Reviewed by: Hermer Arroyo
Readers Rating
The Grand Leveller

Rated 3.8/5 (76%) (15 Votes)

For a long time Benediction have been considered pioneers of the British Death Metal scene. They have been together since the genre's infancy, yet somehow I hadn't listened to anything recorded by them. To correct this I got what is regarded as their best album and a good place to start to learn about them. The band has a lot in common with Bolt Thrower (except lyrically), not surprising since their vocalists at the time, Karl Willets, sings backup vocals in "Jumping at Shadows".

Like Bolt Thrower, Benediction has a heavy sound that puts emphasis on the crunchiness and brutality rather than on speed, and that is a good thing. It doesn't mean that there aren't fast moments to be found, but this isn't a speed assault by any means. Tracks like "Vision in the Shroud", "Opulence of the Absolute" and "Senile Dementia" are among the best the genre has to offer. In addition, the Celtic Frost cover isn't too bad either. Overall, the songwriting is stellar, the riffs sound fresh and not dated at all, amazing considering that this record was released in 1991.

The members are good if not great musicians; there is nothing to complain about in this respect, even though I got the feeling that they could have been better. This was Dave Ingram"s first album with the band and he sounds vicious but understandable. The guitars of Darren Brookes and Peter Rew manage to pull out menacing riffs and their solos explode out of the speakers. The rhythm section is great, although I would have preferred Paul Adams to have a louder bass, he adds a lot to the songs and the drumming by is Ian Treacy is intense. Production-wise, this is dirty and somewhat raw, perfect for this kind of metal.

The Grand Leveler is just a fucking cool record, simple and effective is the best way I can describe it. There isn't anything else to say about it, coming from a guy that has never heard this band before I am inclined to get the rest of the discography. However, I doubt that any of those albums will be better than this one.

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