Benesser – The Start of Something New


Benesser_cover_0The first known inhabitant of the town Dala-Järna in central Sweden was a man named Benesser and he built a white chapel by the water in the 13th century that still stands today.  In this small town of 1500 people, David Olsson, Henric Hermansson, and Robert Olsson grew up doors away from each other and started playing music together at the age of 9.  In 1998, the band No Brakes was formed by these three and they started playing quite a bit live and won the Musik Direkt competition for their province in 2006.  By 2007, they had started finding their sound and after hearing the story about the chapel in their town, changed their name to Benesser.  2008 saw them win the Garagerocken contest for unsigned band not long after they played Sweden’s largest Christian music festival and began recording the Colors ep.  The band then entered the BoomTown Music Education program for two years and began the recording process for The Start of Something New.

Being from Sweden and playing alternative, sometimes heavy, guitar-driven music, there is the inevitable comparison to the band Blindside that will have to be made in a review, so I’ll get that out of the way early.  Yes, you can hear some similarities to Blindside in Benesser, but only bits and pieces scattered throughout.  Some of the vocal stylings are there, the Christian message is there, the emphasis on the guitar carrying the sound is certainly there, but in general, Benesser is not another Blindside, they have their own sound.  What struck the most about the sound was that it instantly reminded me of early Spoken from Echoes of the Spirit Still Dwell.  The vocals of Robert Olsson are very clean throughout and range from smooth, reassuring soft-spoken to loud soaring choruses and everything in between.  Musically, the emphasis is definitely on the guitar and the songs are varied enough to cover typical alternative guitar riffs to even a blues-like solo in the song “Is it You”.  Press materials about Benesser have included bands like Rush, Muse, and Coldplay and I can hear some bits and pieces of Rush and Muse, which are a good thing, and some of songs may have some of the atmosphere found in Coldplay songs, but by no means would you confuse Benesser for these bands as they have their own sound.

The album kicks off with a guitar riff in “Where Silence Prevails” that sounds as if it were taken straight off a 1980’s hair metal band album.  Tone reminded me of that in Ratt, which is somewhat odd to hear in 2013, but the rest of the song certainly is not 1980’s hair metal and does have a heavy sound reminiscent of something Blindside would release.  This song and “For the Eyes of the Lord” are the only two carried over from their Colors ep and both can serve as a good introduction to the Benesser sound.  At time heavy and at other time, very soft and quiet falsetto vocals carrying the song along.

“Is it You” is one of the more eclectic songs on the album, featuring some soft guitar and falsetto vocals throughout most of the song.  About one-third of the way through the song, the vocals go away and a blues guitar solo comes in, only to transition back to the soft guitar, and then build into louder chorus section where the clean guitar riff is now fully amplified and distorted.  Keep in mind, all of this transition takes time and the song is over 7 minutes start to finish.  Two other songs on the album, “Sleepless Nights” and “For the Eyes of the Lord” are also approaching the 7 minute mark in terms of length and all three feature a similar structure and style with the soft beginning sections, some guitar solo sections, and a building to louder resolution.

I will admit on first listen, I found myself getting impatient with the songs and skipping through the cd, but after sitting and down and listening to it straight through several times, I have found a lot to like in this release.  When you listen primarily to punk and metal, it can be a bit of an adjustment to move to an album like this.  Nothing here is rushed, songs either start out slow and build over time or may start out fast and then slow and build back over time.  This album relies a lot on the contrast between quiet and loud, fast and slow.  My one thought is that some songs seem a bit formulaic in terms of structure but that is likely due to the structure being so different from what  I usually listen to that I’m noticing it more in this case.  Production quality is excellent, musicianship is excellent, and if you like bands like Blindside and Spoken at all, you will find something good here if you give it a chance.

Rating: 7/10

1 Where Silence Prevails 4:13
2 Babyface 3:40
3 Is It You 7:32
4 Colors 5:38
5 Where O Death 4:33
6 Sleepless Nights 6:57
7 Signs Of Time 3:17
8 For The Eyes Of The Lord 7:00
9 The Start Of Something New 3:44

Band members:
Robert Olsson – Vocals, bass
Henric Hermansson – Guitar
David Olsson – Drums

Colors, ep [2010]

Record Label: Doolittle Group AB, Aug. 2013

Weblinks: Website / Facebook / Myspace

Buy the album here:
First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission
USA: Metal Helm

Video below for “Where O Death”


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