(In this post TheMadIsraeli reviews the debut album by Benevolent from Dubai.)
Islander recommended I check out this album some time ago. I have to admit, I made an ass out of myself by prematurely judging the album before I gave it its just due with a fair listening. What I listened to, at first, sounded like generic djent-infused groove metal. Those are definitely big components of the sound of Dubai’s Benevolent. But the music boasts a large array of modern melodic death metal elements as well — and after giving their debut The Covenant a solid listen, I can now safely say this may be one of the best modern metal bands out there.
I get vibes of Scar Symmetry, Textures, Cynic, Chimaira, and Fear Factory from this record, and even some aspects that remind me a bit of Byzantine. It’s all about low-tuned riffage, lush walls of sound, fusion shred, dimension-opening gutturals, and airy cleans. It’s kind of funny — they embody both things you guys would generally like, and also things most of us have grown tired of (mostly pertaining to djent elements). Benevolent make those undesirable elements work in their favor, though, mostly through an immaculate perception of how to use all their elements in a push/pull dynamic.
They mostly stick to a heavy groove orientation, with a bit of mid-paced thrashy bravado to diversify things. It’s clear, though, that Benevolent is more about the groove and the vibe. While the songs include some really good riffs, the band pride themselves on crafting ambient layers they can mesh over those to create music that is both actively and passively complex. Combine this with a sense for intricate vocal melodies and harmonies, and you have something that achieves an overall mood and musical proficiency similar to what was displayed by Stealing Axion when they released Moments in 2012, one of my favorite records of that year.
My favorite song on the record is the album’s post-intro opener “Asphyxia”, because it’s the perfect representation of what Benevolent is. The riffs are titanic, the melodies have that emotionally driven quality that borrows from their dent influences, and the instrumental layers are superbly fit together.
Overall, Benevolent’s sound is very cool. I recommend the album to anyone who is into modern metal hybrids. Admittedly, what first hooked me into checking it out was the fact that ex-Chimaira drummer Andols Herrick did guest work on this album, and he’s one of my favorite drummers of all time, but there is a lot more here to like. I’d like to see what comes from Benevolent after further work on their sound. But even for now, this is an excellent debut and worth your money if the influences appeal to you.