Benighted - _Asylum Cave_
(Season of Mist, 2011)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (7 out of 10)
When the word "French" is applied to something, the initial images conjured up in the mind of most average people is something relatively artistic with some elegance and softness to it. Some may argue that these are common characteristics in French art of any kind, but the likes of Gojira, Pitbulls in the Nursery, Benighted and the lesser known Clampdown will raise many arguments regarding said characteristics. Their art has nothing soft or stereotypically French about it. Instead they've spearheaded a rather powerful movement forward for metal in a nation that didn't really contribute much to the genre in general. These bands, with their varying styles of presentation, years of experience and fanbases, are gradually changing France's reputation in the extreme metal world for the better.

_Asylum Cave_ stands as album number six in Benighted's career, which has seen this French conglomerate become a prominent name in the European death metal scene. It comes laced with numerous grindcore elements and typical brutal death metal chuggage with just the right amount of intelligent riffing and technical drumming to keep it from becoming another indistinguishable mind-numbing chug-fest. The guitars sound balanced between a gritty traditional death metal sound and a modern polished tone. Vocalist Julien Truchan manages to change his vocal style quite adroitly many times on each track to keep them all vibrant and energetic; check out "The Cold Remains" and "Shadows Descend" for quick references to his commendable ability.

Standard grind elements such as sporadic shouts, super-speed blasting, intermittent d-beat drumming and blistering chord strumming appear repeatedly on _Asylum Cave_, and "Prey" and "Hostile" stand as very good examples. "Unborn Infected Children" forcefully steps into the technical realms of the death metal world where drummer Kevin Foley enjoys some space to stretch his muscles, while "Fritzl" tells the story of the massively disturbing Fritzl case that emerged from a small Austrian town in April 2008. "Lethal Mercysim" attacks with deathcore gang shouts, high pitched and aggressive screams and a versatile combination of drum beats and breaks; all of which magnify its intensity and arguably make it the strongest act on this record.

_Asylum Cave_ is a concentrated shot of violently executed, psychologically interesting, technically proficient and grind-influenced French death metal; mull that over for a while. If you find that description uninteresting, then feel free to tweet about your closed-mindedness regarding death metal or about how anally particular I'm sounding right about now. Regardless, Benighted have put out a forceful album that can spark a moshpit within seconds anywhere on the planet. Beware, death metal Fran├žais is coming for us all.


(article published 19/4/2011)

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