Self Released 2010
Sweden's unsigned master of Scandinavian black metal has drastically veered away from convention on Benighted's new double CD demo. The Presentation instills upon the listener a familiar feeling within an unfamiliar framework, blues oriented black metal. A forlorn blues solo breaks slowly upon the shore of black metal melancholy. The Viewpoint I (Portal Awakening) is a dark, hypnotic instrumental that creates a distinct feeling of isolation through repetitive riffs and sparse instrumentation, not unlike a stripped down Xasthur. Towards the track's latter half I am reminded slightly of a noisier Earth. The Character steps back towards a more traditional black metal style of blasting beats, but the main riff conjures the modern misanthropic catchiness of Nachtmystium. Vocals, as Grim as the reaper himself, rasp against the darkness in al their stone-hard glory. The second half of the track descends back into an extended Blues lead. The Viewpoint II (Portals of Awakening) is obsessive in its cold riffing and bleak Nordic moods and represents the most traditional of the songs on the demo. The first two minutes of The Trial is doomy and plodding before picking up in tempo and adding a riff that is symbolic of a cold rainy day with its clean yet, sorrowful guitar. Then the song quickly shifts into more blues soloing only to once again relent into repetitive black metal trudging. Then the cycle repeats. On the second disk there are three tracks, two of which are over 27 minutes each of soulful and desolate blues soloing, so lonely and despondent. Some might consider the excessively long Blues solos on the Demo to be a little self-indulgent, but i think if you examine them with an open mind you will see that they not only possess the right "atmosphere" for the music but are in their own way mesmerizing, you can truly get lost in the fiery fretwork. The middle song on the second disk, Strengthless Men and Shameless Women, is slanted more towards a dusty western feel that at times also conjures images of traditional Japanese sonic textures. Benighted have surprised me by stepping away from black metal in a large musical way while at the same time remaining true to the mood and atmosphere, indeed the ethics of black metal's spirit.