BeneaFor those of a djenty disposition, here’s Benea Reach from Norway. This collection of ten wide-reaching and substantial chunks makes up their third album release.

Let me say now that Benea Reach not a version of Uneven Structure or Vildjharta. Far from it. There’s so much more. “Possession” is more about progressive mood swings. The djenty tones only creep up on us after Benea Reach set the scene with a haunting beginning. The structure and indeed the sub-structure are dramatic and mysterious. The crisp and decisive notes are mixed with a subtle range of sound effects. Each track develops its personality but it’s rarely simple. “Possession” is full of twists and turns. After punchy djent comes a shadowy chorus. To follow “Woodland” and the heavily progressive “The Mountain”, the explosive atmosphere changes its tack. Heaviness is now punctuated by a male / female duet. It is haunting. “Is this the end or is this where we begin” sings the lady with clarity. It is anything but clear. With the contrast in styles, it’s as if the world has been turned upside down. There’s an ethereal quality about this prog metal. Life does not stand still. Those prog metal passages are sublime and lofty. The chorus goes through the sky. The djenty tones add forcefulness. Then hardcore meets djent as “Crown” again takes us to faraway lands where the metal is lush. Spoken words can be heard but the backbone is thunderously heavy. Deep structures combine with mellow moments.

“Empire” takes us into new levels of intensity. The chorus is high in the range, almost screamed. We’re in technical wonderland as usual. This is electric. Cleverly the opening section of the next track “Shedding Skin” calms us down and delights us in its technicality but it’s fleeting. Sparks are soon flying again. “So beautiful” whispers the vocalist. It’s paradoxical. There’s all this heaviness, technical metal and screaming, yet it is beautiful. And here’s why: it’s because of the balance, the flow, the timing and the technical expertise. Every moment is to be savoured. There’s even a bit of post doom. The big but not unduly overladen chords add more drama. Like shifting sands, no track stays in one place. “Fallen” conveys the impression of being direct, but we’re soon taken off to dreamland and emotional heights. Given that this is essentially heavy prog metal, even with all its delightful deviations, a comparison with Opeth is perhaps not unexpected and it occurs in the serene heaviness of “Constellation”. It’s a little weird but it’s also goosebumps time. I hear the distinct tones of Uneven Structure on “The Dark”. It twists and turns and explores new mystical worlds as it chugs along chunkily. As it progresses, the drums patter delicately, like subtle flavours in a cake. All that is left is “Aura”. Angelic voices can be heard. It surely could not end weakly. The female vocals come in, contrasting with echoing cries and that djenty authority.

Wow. There are many styles in this album, and Benea Reach do justice to them all. “Possession” is an explosion of power and emotion. The heaviness is controlled. It is a work of great balance and imagination.

(9/10 Andrew Doherty)