Contrary to my immediate assumption British veteran death metallers Benediction haven't been resting on their laurels since the release of Organized Chaos back in 2001. The band has been busy touring among other things and is currently writing material to the successor to Organized Chaos. Vocalist and newest member Dave Hunt was the one to answer my questions.

Dave Hunt interviewed by PSL

You seem to have been very silent since the release of Organized Chaos back in 2001. What have you been doing in that period?
We haven't actually been silent; we've done about 4 tours and a few festivals in that time. It's just we haven't had time to get together and write new stuff! We're all very busy with one thing and another. But finally we're getting ready again...

How has the response to Organized Chaos been?
Pretty good. There will always be people who want to hear old stuff and nothing else, but there are also a lot of people who have said to us that they think it's the best Benediction album in years. We're very pleased with it ourselves, too. It's got a lot of different sides to it - fast, slow, old school, modern. But it's all got the Benediction heart beating underneath it, and I think people like and respect that.

The sound of the band has evolved quite a bit since the debut Subconscious Terror. Do you feel you have found the right sound by now?
There are bands who always want to sound the same, and there are bands who change completely. Benediction is neither of those things - we don't want to stand still and release the same album year after year. The fans deserve more than that from us I think. But it's an evolution rather than looking for something in particular and failing to find it. We haven't been trying to find the right sound; the right sound has been different at different times. But although we evolve and update the sound a little at a time, we always still have the Benediction core and respect for the fans who have been there since the old days. So there will always be progression in one direction or another, but we will also always stay true to our roots. That sounds about the right mix to me.

Do you feel you have the same drive and energy as back in the early days?
I don't know, I wasn't there! But it takes passion to keep going for 16 years and still be ready and hungry for more - so what do you think?

Which of the Benediction albums are you personal favourite?
Personally it's probably Transcend the Rubicon, because that's the first Benediction album I heard. I'm not sure the other guys would agree with me, though. With a back catalogue like Benediction's, there's always tracks coming back that you haven't heard in a few years that you rediscover and suddenly think 'this is fucking great!'. Maybe the production on the early stuff might not sound the best nowadays, but it's the songs themselves that jump out at you. Aside from that, my favourite would have to be Organised Chaos, because it's a really strong album, and I'm on it!

You've done a few cover songs in the past. Is this something you might do again?
You never know, we have spoken about a few songs we might cover, but you'll just have to wait to find out…

Are you still in touch with the old band members?
Not really. We've seen Barney out and about a few times with the Napalm Death lads. We saw Dave Ingram when we toured with Bolt Thrower, but apart from that, he lives in a different country. The other guys have mostly drifted away into their own lives.

Will your new album also be released through Nuclear Blast?
We're not sure yet. Organised Chaos was the last album under the deal we had with Nuclear Blast, and they've made an offer for us to sign for another few albums. But we have yet to decide whether to go with them again or sign with another label. It's always best to take your time with decisions like that. The business side of being in a band isn't what we're interested in - we want to make music and get out on the road to see the fans. If you're in a band in the first place because you're a business man, the music you make will nearly always be soulless shit. And that's not what we're about. But you have to be careful to make the right decisions in the business side of things nevertheless, because it can totally change the life of the band - you can get treated really well and prosper, or you can get ripped off and the band killed, both through no fault of your own - and so we're not about to rush into anything.

A lot of bands go from label to label after each record but you've stayed in the Nuclear Blast fold all the time. Do you have any idea why that is?
Yes - it was a 7 album deal! 7 albums is a very long record deal - many deals nowadays are for 3 or 4 at most. Deicide for example were tied to a long deal with Roadrunner and they couldn't wait to get out of it. I think with Earache they are taking things one album at a time now, because they've had bad experiences in the past. But back when Benediction signed with Nuclear Blast, I think longer deals were more common. Plus it seemed like the right thing to do - the scene was starting out back in the late 80's and there was a lot of optimism. Nuclear Blast has since grown in a quite different direction and maybe they aren't the right label for Benediction any more. Maybe they still are. We will have to think carefully about everything and discuss it all to come up with the right decision.

Are any of you currently involved in anything besides Benediction?
As far as I know the other guys don't have any side projects. It's hard enough trying to juggle Benediction, family life and a job! I have Mistress [a sludge/grind sort of thing, we're writing an album for Earache Records at the moment] and Anaal Nathrakh [blast beats and fucking evil violence, we just had a CD come out on Season of Mist at the start of November]. So pretty busy…

You're working on new material how's work progressing?
There are some cool ideas coming together, but it's still early days yet. It tends to happen that once there are enough ideas to get really started on a few songs, then everything else comes together very quickly. So we're just waiting till we reach that point of critical mass, then the whole album won't be far behind. We're looking forward to hearing the finished CD!

In which direction is the new material going?
As there's not a whole album written yet, it's hard to say. But there are a range of ideas mixed in - some parts are quite simple, but real headbanging rock monsters; other parts are turning back the clock a few years and getting real death metal. But it's all being refined and changed as time goes by until we're really happy with it.

Have you yet to decide upon studio and producer?
Yes. There's been a long relationship between Benediction and PJ at Rhythm Studios, so there's a good chance we'll record at the same place again. It's a good studio to use, it's based on a farm in the middle of the countryside so it's away from distractions, but it's not all that far from Stratford, and only about an hour away from Birmingham. So if you really need something, you can jump in a car and get what you need without it being too much of a problem. Nothing is set in stone, though. As for the producer, I'm not sure. Andy Sneap is a very good producer. I personally thought his work on Grind Bastard was better than on Organised Chaos, but other people have been very positive about the latter. I also know he likes to work as a real producer in the studio with the bands, rather than just mixing the end product after a band has already recorded everything, so maybe that's something we could look at. It would certainly be interesting.

Do you have any plans on making a DVD at some point?
It's something we've thought about, and fans have asked us about it on a lot of occasions. It might be cool to put something together, I think we'd enjoy doing it ourselves, and be able to come up with something that would be very entertaining to watch. There's 16 years of stuff to draw from, for fuck's sake!

How was the European tour with Godhate and Nominon that you recently completed?
It was excellent. We played a lot of new places, even in the 'normal' countries like Germany; we played some new towns along with the places that are always cool like Hamburg for example. But the particular highlight was getting into the Eastern countries in the former Yugoslavian region. A lot of bands don't get to play over there, but I can't understand why. We specifically asked for concerts in that part of the world, and they were amazing. Really cool people, and very enthusiastic at the shows. I remember hearing myself saying some pretty clichéd things on stage like 'We love you Zagreb' and so on, but it was genuine! Great places to play. Obviously there's a lot happened in recent history over there, and it was interesting to hear what people thought about it, and the places themselves were fantastic. Dubrovnik is just beautiful; Lubljana and Belgrade were amazingly cool cities. The list goes on. Plus the guys in Nominon and Godhate were really good blokes, so it was a pleasure to tour. I had some health problems towards the end which was a shame, because it stopped us playing properly at a couple of the shows. But people seemed quite understanding, and all in all it was a great tour.

Any closing comments
As always, thanks. To anyone who's bought albums or turned up to shows or shown their support, thank you. The Benediction machine couldn't keep rolling on without you. See you on the road!

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