It was a year ago this week that I reviewed the debut EP from Benchpress. Since first hearing Stay Hated I was very impressed with these guys from Lewistown, Pennsylvania. That first record showcased their brutal brand of metallic hardcore that while not very original, was executed almost to perfection. They hit Atrium Studios again in Lancaster, PA with producer Carson Slovak (August Burns Red, This Or The Apocalypse) to record six new songs for their sophomore record titled Controlled By Death.

From the opening moments of "Intro//Exist" it is pretty damn evident that the band has evolved. There is a very obvious increase in the metal influence and it is a welcome addition. I loved their debut material, but these new songs help to differentiate them even further from their peers in the hardcore scene. That isn't to say they have abandoned their sound, this is still entirely a hardcore record. What they have added are more interesting guitar parts that wouldn't sound foreign on a Ringworm record much the same way Steel Nation does the same thing while unmistakably staying true to heir hardcore roots.

From top to bottom these six songs are merciless. The music doesn't begin to let up and the lyrics are downright cruel. The overall intensity seems to have been kicked up a notch for these songs and it pays off greatly. I wasn't looking for Benchpress to make any changes from their Stay Hated EP, but they took a slight risk and it works wholly. If their biggest issue on their last release was too much commonality with their peers than consider them problem free.

The band will still have their detractors because people always want hardcore to evolve into something it's not, but these guys have now excelled twice at writing within the simple boundaries of hardcore and producing a superior record.