Great British Grind Bastards
Benediction was spawned in early 1989 from the ashes of a
band called Stillborn. The line up then was Barney Greenway (Vocals), Darren Brookes
(Guitar), Peter Rew (Guitar), Paul Adams (Bass), and Ian Treacy (Drums). This line up soon
wrote several songs, now classics among the Death Metal genre, and then recorded the
legendary demo, 'The Dreams You Dread'. This tape, along with some help from Mickey Harris
(ex-Napalm Death, Scorn) got the band signed to Nuclear Blast Records in Germany. Their
debut, full-length album 'Subconscious Terror' was recorded on a very low budget and was
met with very high acclaim across the world's Metal market. Barney continued to work with
Napalm Death as well as Benediction and this caused problems when both bands were offered
separate tours. Barney was asked to choose between which band he wished to continue
working with, and his decision to leave Benediction left the rest of the band in turmoil.
Who could they find as a new frontman?
A chance meeting in the Costermongers Pub, Birmingham, between Dave Ingram (one time drunk) and Peter Rew (full time drunk) brought about an arrangement for an audition in the next few days. Dave passed with honours and was asked to join Benediction full-time. This brought about a new lease of life to the band and, after successfully integrating Dave into the band's live stage-show by playing several UK dates with Autopsy, Paradise Lost and also some with Bolt Thrower too, they set about writing the next opus, the album called 'The Grand Leveller.'
This LP saw the light of day in August 1991 after a lengthy writing and recording process, the latter being handled by Paul Johnston, and also saw the band playing their first headline European tour to full venues and great acclaim... even BEFORE 'The Grand Leveller' was released!! This tour took the band into 10 countries across Europe, including former Yugoslavia where the band had to evacuate the country very quickly after the gig, due to the conflict beginning there. On this tour Benediction promised to return very soon, along with Bolt-Thrower, but in fact they came back for 4 shows in Austria and Germany shortly afterwards, headlining yet again. It was after this short tour that Paul Adams was asked to leave due to his continued lack of interest in the band. Since Paul was such a close friend to the band it brought about a sad end to such a successful 1991.
Although very soon after this setback the band bounced back and began recording the EP
'Dark is the Season.' Since no replacement had been found for Paul yet, it was Darren who
played both Bass and Guitar on this session. Benediction then began the process of finding
a replacement bassist to fill in the gap so they could go on tour, again around Europe,
with Bolt Thrower. Simon Harris, a friend of drummer Ian, was brought in as a session bass
player for this tour and the Benediction Beast breathed fire all over Europe again!!
Sadly, as the bands were travelling down towards Spain, the backline equipment van was
involved in a crash and the roadie, Michael 'Spike' Hall, was killed. Both bands went home
but returned to Europe very soon after, to finish off the tour in memory of Spike. Gone,
but not forgotten.
Benediction now began the process of writing their next full-length album and the search for a full time bass player. The offer of 3 gigs in Holland and Belgium AND a show in Israel was too good to miss, so the band asked close friend Frank Healy (in Cerebral Fix, at this time) to work with the band for these shows, but continually tried to persuade him to join the band full-time. When the band were in Israel, Frank eventually gave in and became the fifth member of Benediction. The gig in Israel was such a success that the manager of the club asked Benediction to come back the next night and play again, which the band did......dressed as Arabs and playing cover versions such as Nirvana's 'Smells Like (Teen Spirit)', Thin Lizzy's 'Cold Sweat', Judas Priest's 'Living After Midnight' and playing several of their own tunes, too!! While in Israel, the promotor took film footage of the band which was then edited together to form the video for the track 'Foetus Noose' from the 'Dark Is The Season' EP which appeared on the 'Death is just the beginning 1' home video.
On their return home they finished writing the new album, 'Transcend The Rubicon' and again went into the Rhythm Studios with Paul Johnston to record it. This album was greeted with even higher praise than any previous Benediction album, getting high scores in many magazine reviews. Then, in 1993, the band went on tour across Europe with a slightly diverse package of bands. They took American band Atheist and Sweden's Cemetery with them, combining Atheist's jazz/metal with Cemetery's doom and Benediction's out-and- out brutal & aggressive Death Metal. Once again the tour was a great achievement for the band, for it was yet another Benediction headline tour. Soon after their return home it became apparent that drummer Ian was feeling indifferent towards Benediction so he decided to leave. Paul Brookes was sought, being a friend of the band, and was asked to join. He agreed and was soon put to the test in January 1994 with a one-off show in Portugal, which was yet another conquest for the band, and a new country for them to visit. Shortly after they released 'The Grotesque / Ashen Epitaph' EP, which contained 2 new tracks (featuring drummer Ian, before his departure) and three live tracks that were recorded at a small venue in the bands home town, Birmingham, that feature Paul Brookes, and was mixed by Paul Johnston. A video was also shot for 'The Grotesque' which had extensive coverage, especially on MTV, and also the band used footage, shot by themselves while in Portugal, to make yet another video for the track 'Ashen Epitaph' both of which were included on the 'Death is just the beginning 3' home video, released by Nuclear Blast.
An offer of playing 2 shows in Mexico arrived so the band jetted off there and played the sell-out shows to several thousand, and partied all night, every night! yet another success followed the day after they returned home, when they set sail for Ireland and played two excellent shows there, too. The band started to write new material now that Paul Brookes had seemingly settled into the band, and also full Management support was sought after. Enter Craig Fenney and Rubicon Management. With this extra backbone to the band, an American tour was acquired with long time friends Bolt Thrower. Unfortunately, half way through the tour Bolt Thrower had some band problems and decided to return to England. Meanwhile, Benediction decided to continue the tour themselves, and finished their first American tour in triumph, with much praise from the American Press and also, more importantly, the American fans.
Paul Brookes decided he did not want to continue his career in Benediction and decided to
leave, pursuing his own business venture which was a rehearsal studio that was financed
and built by Benediction themselves! This left a large gap in the band, as the next album
was almost completely written, and there was another tour looming on the horizon in the
early part of the next year. This tour was the 1995 Nuclear Blast Festival tour, which the
band knew was going to be a major attraction. A new drummer had to be found! At first,
Neil Hutton was approached to only work with Benediction as a session musician, as he was
already in Birmingham-based Warlord, but he soon showed them he was a fantastic musician
for one so young in years and experience, and that he was eager to work full-time with
Benediction. After the very successful NBR Festival tour, which got the band coverage on
MTV"s Headbangers ball, Neil was asked to join in. He made his mark on Benediction's
next full-length album, 'The Dreams You Dread', recorded again at Rhythm Studios under the
guidance of Paul Johnston. The album's title was taken from the first Benediction demo
tape, and given as a tribute to all the fans who had remained faithful to the band over
the years. Even though it was the old demo's title, all the material on 'The Dreams You
Dread' was brand new.
After much rehearsing Benediction set out on several European Summer Festival shows, to promote the release of the new album, playing with such bands as Merciful Fate, Machine Head, Pro-Pain, and the original line-up of Venom. The band also recorded a video for the track, 'Down On Whores (Leave Them All For Dead)' from the new album, which has been played on MTV Europe several times, but was banned by MTV America due to the title. The irony of this was that it only helped boost Benediction's record sales of 'The Dreams You Dread' album in America! Both Dave and Darren appeared on MTV as hosts to the aggressive Metal show, 'Into The Pit' which debuted the bands video, and gave them extensive coverage right across Europe.
Shortly after the band were offered the 'very special guests' slot on the European tour with Death. The band accepted and were soon playing many sell-out shows, giving Death a real challenge, and showing that even after such a long time, there was still life in the band! During this tour there were some problems with an Italian promoter, so the band decided to return to Italy soon after to make amends to the fans who missed out on seeing Benediction live. It was February '96 that this tour came along, and Benediction decided to take Warlord out on the road to Europe, since they had just signed to Nuclear Blast Record with help of Dave Ingram. The tour was successful yet again and the band came home with the decision to begin writing the next album.
Benediction have had many problems to face, and many obstacles to overcome in their musical career. But they have always won through, and done so with the knowledge that they have done it themselves with all their own hard work and determination. Benediction have a 'no-compromise' attitude, and will never follow trends, unless they make them themselves. They stay true to their roots, loyal to their fans, and keep in constant contact with the Underground scene, which made them the band they are today. They are proud to be part of a widely varied and growing genre, which they know will only go from strength to strength in the forthcoming years.