Some music just sounds flat out disgusting. It would be difficult to describe the sounds vomited by bands like Devourment, Aborted, Cryptopsy, and a slew of other more brutally oriented artists as anything less. It’s the kind of music that causes me to occasionally sit back and wonder what, exactly, about this truncated mash of notes and pig squeals I find so deliciously appealing. I don’t even know if I have a long- or even short-form answer to that age old dilemma, but I can tell you right now that France’s masters of deathgrind Benighted have certainly brought that conversation to my inner attention once more. Their latest release, Obscene Repressed, feels about as opposite of “repressed” as music comes. It’s a brazen, wild, sonically violent and gore-splattered collection of tracks that offer no middle ground to the uninitiated. You either love this stuff unabashedly or loathe it with your entire being. Benighted are not the band one uses to introduce extreme metal to your friends, and that inaccessibility is one of the reasons why their music has continued to stand the test of time for their impassioned acolytes. I can definitively count myself among the faithful, and their latest offering is a gobsmacking, thoroughly depraved slab of dynamic deathgrind that I cannot get enough of.
If you’re unfamiliar with Benighted, Obscene Repressed will give you little breathing room as you become acclimated to their sound. It’s replete with riffs delivered often at lightning speed with absolutely relentless energy. The opening title track introduces the album in just such a fashion, pounding listeners with a barrage of memorable riffs bolstered by a blistering, absolutely bananas rhythm section that hits with all the force of a megaton bomb. As we have come to expect from Benighted, general face peeling is a constant throughout Obscene Repressed. Fully immersed in brutal death metal and grind tropes (and bereft of the black metal trappings that adorned their early records), tracks like “Nails”, “The Starving Beast”, and “Implore the Negative” are exactly the type of profane debauchery Benighted have specialized in over the past decade, and are as direct, polished, and precise in their execution as the band have yet been able to pull off. Fans of their eight full-length Necrobreed will find plenty to love in this record’s most straightforward tracks. The production also deserves a shout-out here, as these tracks for all the chaos within them sound as crisp, dense, and vibrant as records of this ilk are likely to be.
But the most punishing tracks here are only a portion of what makes Obscene Repressed such an enjoyable and impressive record. “Brutus” (while in its own right an all-out banger) incorporates some sparse melodic passages that stick out like a sore thumb amid the maelstrom. The excellent bass work found throughout the album can also be heard with particular clarity here, making details often lost in deathgrind albums readily apparent and all the more impressive. “Muzzle” provides another example of the band’s impressive breadth of abilities as musicians and songwriters, with a nice little jazzy number halfway through the track that provides a very brief respite from the madness while giving the band even more opportunities to show off their impressive performative chops. All of these stylistic flourishes serve to add just the right amount of variety to the proceedings to create a dynamic, as well as utterly punishing, listening experience. And clocking in at a perfectly trim 38 minutes, there’s exactly the right amount of beef for your daily metal meal.
Balanced, fierce, profane, and exceedingly ugly, there’s little about Benighted’s ninth full-length record that isn’t commendable as a work of deathgrind art. For as punishing a release as it is, there’s a truly impressive amount of dynamism and variety keeping the proceedings from growing too rote or stale, as releases of this nature often become on repeat listening. But on this particular branch of the metal tree, I’ve yet to hear an album that is more impressively constructed and executed than Obscene Repressed, nor as obscenely fun. Benighted know exactly who they are and what they want to accomplish, and complete their mission of sonic obliteration with the type of precision that only expert annihilators can pull off. As one of the band’s most disgusting and fiendishly enjoyable records to date, Obscene Repressed is a punishing and rewarding experience that I will be consistently repeating for many months to come.
Obscene Repressed drops April 10th via Season of Mist, and is available for pre-order now.