Album Review – Benevolent / The Covenant (2014)

Get ready for some really interesting extreme and experimental heavy music from the Middle-East.

Rating5

Benevolent_The CovenantAt least from a music perspective, Globalization doesn’t seem as disastrous as we all think it is: when in our lives would we ever imagine we could one day listen to an Experimental Death Metal band from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with just a few clicks? Not only that, the band is actually good and goes by the “friendly” name of Benevolent, and their first full-length album, The Covenant, deserves a shot.

As expected in any experimental or progressive band, most of the songs are long, usually surpassing the 6-minute barrier, and are not easy to digest if you’re not absolutely crazy for innovation or “weird voyages” in the world of heavy music. Right after the atmospheric intro Void, the band already offers us a very good example of their chosen path for creating music: the excellent Asphyxia is a really experimental and at the same time brutal song, maybe something in between Progressive and Death Metal, with a good mix of guttural and clean vocals by brothers Fadi and Hadi Sarieddine, respectively. This song is almost 10 minutes long, which means if you can reach the end of it and enjoy all its variations and breaks, then this album is for you.

The following tracks are The Seeker, another totally experimental track the likes of Opeth and Tool showcasing all the talent of the musicians involved, with a nice guitar solo by the end of the song; Radiate, an instrumental song with focus on the piano/keyboards lines; and Illusion, a pretty good song with an acoustic guitar intro, heavy riffs and melancholic rhythm, and that sounds a lot like what Dream Theater would be if they had guttural vocals.

Another one of my favorite songs is Heathen, a very progressive song with hints of Blackened Death Metal and excellent instrumental parts in general, especially the keyboards. Then we have The Collector, a more Death Metal track with an interesting duo of guitars and drums, with a very nice job done by session drummer Andols Herrick; Dissipate, which is another instrumental “bridge” song; and Metamorphosis, the longest and more progressive track of all, with awesome bass lines by Mohammed Gad and a continuous “tone” that gives the song a freaky sensation, reminding us of many songs by Tool.

BenevolentThe last two tracks in The Covenant keep up with all the progressiveness and obscurity of the previous tracks: Ascension begins with an eerie electronic intro before becoming a very progressive tune, while Rebirth is a very “melancholic” ending to the album, with a nice work done with the riffs in order to give the song (and the whole album) that “fade away” feeling commonly used in many movies.

In addition, the emblematic album art, which was professionally done by artist Edidong Udo, positively consummates the objective of Benevolent with their music. So why not give this complex band from the Middle-East a try, especially if you’re a huge fan of progressive heavy music? You can listen to all tracks and buy The Covenant HERE, and by doing so you’ll support those talented guys to keep the fire of heavy music alive in that part of the world.

Best moments of the album: Asphyxia, Illusion and Heathen.

Worst moments of the album: The Collector and Ascension.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Void 1:39
2. Asphyxia 9:41
3. The Seeker 7:02
4. Radiate 2:40
5. Illusion 8:40
6. Heathen 6:04
7. The Collector 4:29
8. Dissipate 2:15
9. Metamorphosis 9:47
10. Ascension 7:49
11. Rebirth 2:59

Band members
Fadi Sarieddine – vocals
Hadi Sarieddine – guitars, clean vocals
Mohammed Gad – guitars, bass
Andols Herrick* – drums

*Session drummer

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