12 Jan 2016

Benalthel: "Reach Towards the Sky"

Melodic death metal, the comic sans of metal
Commercially speaking melodic death metal is probably one of the most popular subgenres of metal. The popularity of bands like Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, In Flames and Soilwork stands testament to the appeal such bands pose. It is however also abundantly clear from the oversaturation of the melo-death scene that only very few manage to actually produce anything worthwhile.

With a name like "Benalthel" and a demo title like "Reach Towards the Sky" it's hard to know what to expect. It could be an uplifting encouragement to reach beyond your potential, or it might be the last words you hear before you're shot in the face by an unusually smug cop. Or it could be atmospheric black metal or orchestral power metal. But melodic death metal with a heavy shred game going on is the name of the game. The one-man project, hailing from the home of melo-death Sweden, relies heavily on gut pounding drums and shredding guitars. Set in a soundscape that comes off boomy and muddy means these guitar melodies, however, don't fully come into their own, and without any vocals to tie the individual tracks together they're at times hard to tell apart.

"Without the diversity that vocals offer to the sound image three tracks, however brief, can quickly become a tiresome listen."

Though the guitars are no doubt the focus of the record there's obviously put a lot of effort into programming the drums. There's a healthy variety in song length and tempo over the three tracks on the demo, but the fact that all tracks are completely instrumental has both pros and cons. Without the diversity that vocals offer to the sound image three tracks, however brief, can quickly become a tiresome listen. It does however allow the musician to focus on structures and melodies in a different way that makes each individual track stand out a bit more. Though if vocals were left out as a stylistic and artistic choice, the production job damn well better reflect it!

Internally each song has good flow, which is something that bleeds into the release as a whole through the ongoing vibe of melody accentuated by heaviness. Except for a few experiments in synth-choirs and other alien elements and the odd reference to Toy Story ("To Infinity", "And Beyond") "Reach Towards the Sky" is pretty consistent, altough a bit lacking in some departments.


Released in 2011 independently

Benalthel on BANDCAMP

What did you think about Benalthel's Reach Towards the Sky?

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