Normally I have my finger on the pulse when it comes to death metal but France’s Benighted completely blindsided me in 2006 with their album Identisick. A blitzkrieg of chaos and intensity that utterly consumed me and the record rarely left my car stereo for months. It’s been 8 years since that experience, with a few albums in between, but Benighted has returned with their 7th record entitled Carnivore Sublime. Have they been able to maintain that aura that surprised me in 2006 or have started to fade into mediocrity? Let’s find out.

To get right at it and answer that question. A little bit of column A and column B. With a back catalog that includes the utter insanity of Identisick and Insane Cephalic Production to the more orchestrated madness of Icon and Asylum Cave, the band has put themselves into a position where I, as a fan, have come to have high expectations for them each time they put something new out. While the free-for-all mentality of diving in and out of death metal into grind into slam is still fully present, Carnivore Sublime feels like the first time the band has opted to play it somewhat safe. Asylum Cave started to show some of the writing on the wall but Benighted has decided to go somewhat in the same direction that Aborted did for a few years. The inclusion of elements of modern metalcore and deathcore rear their ugly head far too often in this record for me to get the same lasting feeling that I did with some of their previous records. Don’t get me wrong, the album is still highly enjoyable if you are a fan of their frenzied delivery but it does lack some of that ballsy oomph from previous records.

I’m all for a band, especially a technical savvy one like Benighted, to branch out and experiment a little but do it with a sense of trying to push their boundaries. Deciding to incorporate the accessible sounds of a current trend is too easy and cheapens the experience. I would have much rather heard Benighted to go old school and see if they could blend in some throwback sounds ala Morbid Angel or Cannibal Corpse. I think with their almost futuristic approach to song structure, some sounds from the godfather’s of death would have been very interesting addition to their music instead of regurgitating some failed ideas from the lesser appreciated Aborted records.

Aside from a few flaws the album is still overall enjoyable if you are a fan of their previous material. If you’ve never heard this band before, I’d steer you in the direction of Identisick, which is where the band really hit their stride and then work your way up to this one.