Rock music can evoke different emotions depending on where you coming from, and what you like. Thus what may appeal to one person, may not appeal to another. Does not mean the music is bad, just that you and I might differ on the variants of rock that we enjoy. I think Benesser is one of those rock bands that you’ll either like or not like. Progressive rock music is not simplistic, and like any progressive form of music requires your attention. In many ways progressive music is not something you put on for back ground ambiance. So for this release I went into my fortress of solitude, which to the ordinary man would be my bathroom, better yet I ran a bath, through some of my kiddie’s bubble bath in. Made sure the water was warm enough to last the duration of the album, and that I was drowning in bubbles. Now I was ready. My bathroom has some excellent acoustics, and being in my bath I was certain that I would not be disrupted for the duration of the listen, and thus upon my pilgrimage through this album I felt assured that it would have my full intension, and my best ear to its heartbeat.
Now I am a big fan of progressive music in general, and I love technical musical, and I love music that has soul, that is able to stand alone by itself and woe me in and sweep me up on an adventure to an experience that makes me sit up straight and makes me go “Damn that is good!”. Without giving too much away as I unpack my review on their latest offering, Benesser is one of those bands.
Benesser was founded in 1998; they were 9 or 10 years old at the time. So this three piece Swedish progressive rock/ alternative band consisting of Robert Olsson – Vocals, bass; Henric Hermansson – Guitar and David Olsson on Drums have some years of experience behind them, and that’s a notable quality recognized in their latest offering. Back in the early years of the band they lived next door to each other in a small village in Sweden, and as the years have progressed they have worked their way through different genres and influences. David Olssen leading up to this review told me in a text conversation that they started out listening to a lot of Stryper and Tourniquet. In a way that explains a lot of the creative expressions of the band as a whole and ultimately the high level of musical quality one gets to experience from the band.
As I stated earlier in the review this album explores the progressive leanings of the rock music world, and with that you are lifted into the experience with the additions of harmonica, piano, organ, soul harmonies and acoustic guitars. If one explores the progressive realm with the addition to those instruments added to the mix at the creative level that these guys work at, it only elevates the listening pleasure and experience adding colour and muscle to the songs. In short a well composed song should bring life to the lyrics, a writing process that is a noted goal of the band, and the fluidity of song and lyric are easily noticeable on many of the songs.
Building on this quality and repertoire, guitarist, Henric Hermass has become well known name on guitar forums around the world for his modified tube amplifiers. Its Henric’s interest in guitar sounds through plenty of hours listening and tweaking that gives Benesser a very unique and distinctive sound and quality that dissolves any notion that this is a mediocre band. “It was frustrating when Henric would zone out during every single rehearsal the first few years – strumming the same chords a million times, tweak something and never really get satisfied…Now 10 years later I’m so grateful for the result.” – David Olsson, drummer.
Their latest offering, ‘Purpose and Cause’ was recorded in MapleTone Studios, situated deep in the forests of Dalecarlia, Sweden, produced by Henrik Gennert, whose previous work includes bands such as Katatonia and Earthside. To get the best out of the album they worked together experimenting to find an organic sound that would best sustain all the way to the final recording, the result thus, all tracks were recorded live. It’s that live sound that captures the energy and intensity of the band, and gives a warm and fluid sound to the band.
‘Purpose and Cause’ succeeds from their previous outing. Lyrically sensitive and at times vulnerable it reinforces my sentiments that this is an emotional release of which a lot of effort, thought and time has been put into it.
“Naked We Die” starts the album off with a strong foundation as the title track for the rest of the album to build on. It pulsates with rock energy, and great guitar moments throughout. One thing I feel that as a band they are strong at, is their intro’s on their songs, and man, it’s usually the first few seconds of an song that holds a listener or doesn’t, and a song like “Naked We Die” just hooks you from the start. “Something In A Way” is a beautifully fragile and emotional song and highlights the musical capability and range of the band. Able to rock it, but also able to bring it down to a sensitively mature lullaby with such seamless fluidity and progression. “Something In A Way” is a beautiful masterpiece of emotional art. It’s a song best listened in quietness as one allows it to serenade you with its fragility.
Another stand out track for me is “Who Am I” again with a brilliant guitar intro. I love how the music and the vocals almost duel it out in a complimenting way. It has a big production feel, and sweeps through various movements again highlighting the sensitivity and fragility of the lyrical composition of the song. At about 3 minutes 54 seconds a wonderful solo that brought memories of Joe Satriani.
“Patience” picks up the pace a little again, but maintains the progressive tide of the album. Again, and throughout, the songs highlight the guitar skill of Henric Hermansson, and the songs individually are more art pieces, which paint very emotional backdrops, prompting visual illustrations that often require intensive focus and black out of everything around you to fully experience the largeness of the musical experience they offer.
‘Purpose and Cause’ was released on the 10th September through Benesser Music. Technically I cannot see you hearing a better album this year if you love progressive rock. Yes it might not have that 100% commercial footprint on it, because its more art than song, but that said I am prepared to stick my neck out and say its way better than allot, if not all of that ‘commercial’ rock that squirms its way to the top under the banner of quality rock. This is intelligent rock at its finest. The album is set to a landscape of melodies and moments that drives with confidence yet are sensitive and fragile in nature, like if one note was out of place it could fall apart. Yet within that the care to bring a song with such emotion forward gives it a life, a realness that the listener is able to relate to. Every time I listen to the album I hear something new, and the experience never tires. It is certainly an album that is not about to gather dust in my musical archives any time soon. The thing is though with the bar set so high on this album, one does wonder what next? Where to from here? How do you go from here and better this, without reconstructing yourself?
Written by Don de Necker
1 – Naked We Die
2 – Purpose And Cause
3 – Something In The Way
4 – Waterfalls
5 – Who Am I
6 – Patience
7 – Closer
8 – Turn It Right
9 – The Past, The Present, The Future
10 – Shawshank
Robert Olsson – Vocals, bass
Henric Hermansson – Guitar
David Olsson – Drums
Record Label: Benesser Music, Sept. 2015
“The Start Of Something New” (2013) [review]
“Purpose and Cause” (2015)
Video below: ‘Patience’