Band: Benevolent
Album: The Covenant
Genre: Extreme Experimental Metal
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Label: Self-Released
Reviewer: Kareem C

Artwork by Edi Udo

Benevolent announced that they were working on their debut full-length in 2011, after releasing their debut EP, Divided, a year earlier. The past three years really felt like an eternity, but the wait is finally over. Since starting in Kuwait, the band recently relocated to Dubai, and has made their presence known there ever since. On March 18, after releasing two tracks available for streaming, Benevolent have finally released The Covenant, and what an album it is. It was definitely worth the wait. With the band’s foundation not changing, with Hadi Sarieddine on guitar and clean vocals, Fadi Sarieddine on vocals, and Mohammad Gad on rhythm guitar, ex-Chimaira drummer Andols Herrick recorded drums for the album.

The Covenant was recorded and mixed at Haven Studio in Dubai, run by Hadi Sarieddine, and was mastered at 4D Sounds by Tesseract’s Acle Kahney.

The Covenant is very different than Divided, but does hold on to its strengths. In songs like The Seeker and The Collector, one might notice that…but that’s really as far as it goes. The Covenant has much more atmosphere in their music, and it’s probably most noticeable in instrumental tracks, Radiate and Dissipate, as well as intro track Void which exclusively features Hadi’s clean vocals.

Hadi’s clean vocals are definitely more prominent on The Covenant than in Divided, and are harmonized much more uniquely. I think we’ll be seeing them more in future Benevolent material. That said, Fadi’s harsh vocals sound better than ever (editor’s note: Listen to the pre-chorus on The Seeker).

Another thing I noticed was Mohammad Gad taking over on guitar, and actually throwing in a few solos himself. Those can be found on The Collector and Heathen, the latter being one of my favorite tracks on the album. They’re very well done. He can shred. While both Hadi and Mohammad’s solos have some serious chops, they’re well-phrased and have lots of soulful moments. Good stuff.

I don’t need to say much about Andols Herrick’s drumming, do I?

The Covenant is a sick, sick, sick (see what I did there?) album. Some of the tracks exceed 8 and even 9 minutes. Benevolent basically took their heavy, evil sounding Meshuggah-like riffs, and combined them with beautiful atmospheric elements that you might notice in Tesseract. There are more bands in the Middle East that are (thankfully) raising the bar a little higher with each release, and Benevolant are one of them.

I give The Covenant an 8.5/10.

Favorite tracks: Heathen, Asphyxia, Dissipate

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