KILLING CHAPEL, High on Homicide (2007, self-released)
It’s hard to see in this small image, but this skull is ornately labelled for the benefit of 19th century anatomy students, which suggests that some knife wielding maniac was so high on homicide that he didn’t realize he was stabbing a long dead teaching skull and wasn’t adding to his bodycount. He must have murdered a whole lot of people before he got to this skull, though, to be that wasted. Also, homicide must make you freakishly strong (like pcp!), because imagine how hard it is to drive a knife straight through a skull like that!
This is blue collar death/thrash made by guys who probably don’t realize those are two different things. They’re from Mifflinville, PA, though, so I gotta shout out to my bruthas from anotha county. Anyway, Killing Chapel are garden variety angry music played with a ton of energy and almost no precision. The drumming is spectacularly sloppy in that push-em-down-the-stairs kind of way, which is always at least a little amusing. The four originals fail to impress, and then they wheel out a couple of not-so-awesome covers (“Dead Skin Mask” by Slayer and “Shredded Humans” by Cannibal Corpse), and a re-recording of the Killing Chapel classic “Lord of the New Faith,” from the band’s 2005 demo. Some songs are just too good to stay buried on an obscure demo, but not so good as to find any wider release than an obscure self-released EP (aka: a demo.) Put that in your murderpipe and smoke it!
— Friar Johnsen
BENEDICTION, Subconscious Terror (1990, Nuclear Blast)
This one rules. The skull is big enough to qualify its inclusion into the BDS Skullection, but its placement is subtle compared to everything else going on. First are the upraised arms, clearly not part of the skull, but a suggestion of murder-by-big-ass-knife. These arms threaten to plunge the knife into the middle of the island at the bottom of the image — the island just happening to have the profile of a human face. Floating in the ocean. Looking like a face. About to get stabbed. We’re not sure what’s happening here, but we like it. And then they fly the awful/awesome Benediction logo in red and yellow above all this. Voila! A pleasing if cluttered eyesore. Personally, I love their logo: primitive crayon-yellow lettering dripping blood, flanked on the left by a nun and on the right by an, err, evil nun. Don’t forget about the skull, which sits grimly in the back, a detached witness to something seriously demented. A subtle skull, yes, but it lords over this scene of terror with enough ghostly authority that we wholly approve!
Here’s a rare album where the intro piece is a highlight of the whole album: on “Portal To Your Phobias,” Barney Greenway (pre-Napalm Death, yessir) narrates in a totally demented fashion while nightmarish sounds whirl and howl underneath (Barney’s narration reminds of Von’s “Lamb,” if that means anything to you). On the proper songs, Barney sounds like Kam Lee of Massacre, and early Massacre is pretty much where Benediction’s first album is coming from. I’ve always had a soft spot for Subconscious Terror, and it’s one of few Benediction recordings I’d call “mandatory” while also recognizing that it’s no classic. It’s just mandatory in my world. You can do what you want. After their Dark is the Season EP, they started to decline, ending up at full-on brown metal by the mid ’90s, but this thing undeniably reeks of ancient death metal primitiveness. As said, it sounds a lot like early Massacre, and that’s terrific to these ears. The production is raw and clangy and not at all pretty. Its basement-death metal vibe gives the music a certain aesthetic, sounding, if not like death, then like hell. Hell in a garage. The rhythm guitars sound like vacuum cleaners and the guitar leads are slightly more structured/melodic than your typical Rick Rozz ridiculousness/awesomeness. Tempos shift often enough to keep you guessing, but there’s no real complexity here. Doesn’t need to be either. The whole thing sounds like it’s rattling around in a big old steel bucket, dark, hollow and helpless (thank you Mr. Mick Harris, who produced this loveable ugliness). If I could change one thing it would be a remix that brings down the drums in volume — sizzly cymbals and paint buckets both — which dominate the album way too much. But I’ll take Subconscious Terror “as is.”
— Friar Wagner