Benea Reach

Possession

Written by: AP on 01/07/2013 22:16:32

Five years have passed since one of the Norway's most intriguing metal exports at the time, Benea Reach, last graced us with recorded output, in the brilliant "Alleviat". In their absence from gig circuitry, it seems the Norwegian six-piece have been busy however, writing probably the most colossal album of their career: "Possession", a sprawling djent/progressive metal opus with enough compositional fabric to busy even a dedicated fan of the genre for months. Which is of course why a review of it just surfaces on this webzine now...

The first thing to impress as "Woodland" is unleashed upon us is the enormity of the soundscape. There's much to be said of the extra dimension available to a band sporting three guitarists (Martin Sivertsen, Andreas Berglihn and Thomas Wang - who also doubles on keys where necessary), and certainly here the possibilities have been capitalised on to the fullest: even when two of the axemen are busy distilling influence from Meshuggah's "None" EP to beef up what is already a punishing rhythmic foundation courtesy of bassist Mikael Wildén and drummer Marco Storm; one is able to add colour and texture with shrill tremolo, delicate, ambient melodies. Engineered into a slightly reverberating mix which nonetheless does not overlook the band's tech-metallic disposition by the revered Tue Madsen, the resulting sound is not unlike that heard on Uneven Structure's debut album "Februus" - a true marriage of light and dark. Like on that effort, the songs on "Possession" are not of a nature to produce immediate rewards, however, as these are progressive metal songs above all else. What this translates to is songs like "Desolate", "Crown" and "Fallen" which contain such a rich amount of detail, and are arranged into such complicated compositions - not least by virtue of skipping time signatures at virtually ever bar - that it takes multiple listening sessions to wrap your head around them. But once that epiphany takes place, then what you'll find in "Possession" is a multi-faceted and highly original metal album the likes of which seldom surface in this day and age, especially in the djent genre.

The second thing to jump out at me is the highly unique vocal style employed by Ilkka Volume, a kind of sharp, high-pitched scream that reminds me profusely of Adam Pettit of the late Cry for Silence. "Empire" and "Shedding Skin" provide fine examples of his tradecraft, and the former in particular is swift to emerge as one of the standout tracks on "Possession". Not only does it feature the most stark contrasts between devastating pummel and soaring, grandiose beauty, Volume's strained mixture of singing and yelling in the chorus sounds absolutely stunning, his highs so shrill even the White Walkers of George R. R. Martin's novel series "A Song of Ice and Fire" might retreat in shock and awe.

For a progressive metal or djent aficionado, "Possession" ought to be an easy digest, but alas, if your experience with those genres is limited, Benea Reach are unlikely to provide enough reasons to make it your quest to get more acquainted with them. It is an intelligent and complex album, and undivided attention is a strict prerequisite to unearthing its full rewards. In this regard, Benea Reach could perhaps done well to incorporate a greater number of songs with a more immediate appeal rather than pepper their soundscape with a frightening amount of texture without an ounce of relent. But this, I feel, is a minor pitfall in a monolithic work of art.

8

Download: Woodland, Crown, Empire, Fallen
For the fans of: Botch, TesseracT, Uneven Structure
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.03.2013
Spinefarm Records / Universal Music

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