While France may not be so renowned as a breeding ground of extreme metal, Saint-Etienne’s Benighted have been flying the flag for over-the-top, fast-paced, gruesome, extreme metal madness for over 20 years. Last year saw the band release their 9th full-length, the excellent Obscene Repressed. Now, with Season of Mist releasing a new special edition of their 2014 opus, Carnivore Sublime, I caught up with vocalist Julien Truchan, who took the time out to answer some questions about the band
Thanks for agreeing to this interview for Blessed Altar Zine. Firstly, who is Benighted and what does each member contribute to the band?
Julien: Thanks to you for this interview, we actually are a French Death Metal band, we started in 1998, released 9 full-length albums, 1 live album and an EP. We include a lot of other influences in our music like Grindcore, Black Metal, Hardcore… to make Benighted’s music the perfect combination between brutality, groove and insanity. Our main theme is about mental illness as I work as a nurse in psychiatry for almost 20 years now and that our lyrics come from true cases and real symptoms of the pathologies. The band is Emmanuel and Fabien playing guitars, Pierre is the bassist and Kevin the drummer.
The band’s 2014 album Carnivore Sublime is coming out in a new two CD special edition. What do you remember about the making of the album and how do you feel about the album seven years later?
Julien: Oh yes, the line-up was totally different at this time, but I remember it perfectly and keep such amazing memories about his recording! I am still 100% satisfied with the songs and the massive sound we got from Kohlekeller Studio in Germany! I have so many great stories about “Carnivore Sublime”, starting with the guest featuring of my brother Niklas Kvarforth from Shining who came with us to the studio and freaked out everyone when he wanted to do sounds of a guy hanging himself for the song “Spit” and that he actually did it with his belt until he almost passed out… Ah ah! The producer was a bit worried as we could see him doing it in the vocal recording room! And the result is just incredible! This is also the album we had our Facebook page deleted the very day of its release because of the nipple on the cover! We were so pissed but it actually turned out to make people talk a lot about it and at the end it was surprisingly a good thing!
I would also say that this album has a very special energy, we wrote it very quickly and there is a strong hardcore spirit in it which makes him very special in the Benighted discography.
The forthcoming release features a live disk of the band performing at Sylak Open Air the year the album was released. What was particularly special about that show for the band?
Julien: We wanted to celebrate our 15 years of existence at this time with something special and Sylak Open Air is an amazing festival pretty close from where we live. It felt pretty natural for us that a recorded live show would be perfect at this festival and it was just perfect! The sound turned out amazing and we are very happy to deliver it to our fans as a CD+DVD in 2015, which was sold out very fast! The re-released of “Carnivore Sublime” is a very good occasion to add this live show for a special edition!
Since 2011’s Asylum Cave you’ve been working with Season of Mist. What attracted you to working with the label and how has your experience been with them?
Julien: I actually like to work with people I completely trust in. Since we started working together in 2011, Season of Mist have always shown faith and motivation for the band and helped us in every way they could! Very quickly, most of the crew became very close friends and everything is so easy between us that I would see no reason to seek for another label. They are at the same time adorable and very professional!
Benighted have been going for over 20 years now. How did the band first come together and what’s changed most about the band since those early days?
Julien: It started as first as a side-project as we all had another band at this time, but Benighted became quickly so promising that we needed to focus and give all our energy to the band. With our 1st self-produced album, we were immediately signed with Adipocere Records which was one of the biggest French labels at this time and that’s how the adventure began! I would say that the main thing that changed along the years is the line-up because Benighted asks for such a lot of time and energy that it’s difficult to last without getting exhausted at some point. Luckily, every time there was a change, it was for someone who really had something to bring to the band and make it hit another level. I am the last one from the former line-up
What was the first music that made you want to start creating music of your own?
Julien: I bought by mistake a tape of “Butchered at Birth” from Cannibal Corpse when I was in college and at first, I really didn’t like it! Ah ah! I mean, I didn’t know Death Metal at all, and my ears were definitely not prepared for the speed and the aggressivity of the music. I remember that I made it listen to a lot of friends, saying that I really didn’t see the point of making this kind of music… then my ears started to understand what was played and for fun we started a band like this with my best friend Olivier and gathered other friends playing with us… and see where it went! Ah ah!
How do you think the landscape of extreme metal has changed since the band first started playing together?
Julien: It changed massively! There weren’t that many bands at this time, and you needed to really investigate to discover new ones and find some fresh blood for your ears! There was a particular spirit with a lot of authenticity that I regret a bit nowadays. The good thing is that today, you have plenty of amazing bands in every extreme metal style, with musicians always more talented and coming with great ideas! But the music world itself has changed and we have lost this “waiting” for the album of a band we are a huge fan of… even the concept of an “album” has changed as people listen to one immediately replaced by another one the week after because there are so many bands and so many things to listen to…
What have been the biggest influences on the band, musical or otherwise, for both sound and concept?
Julien: I would say Napalm Death, Dying Fetus, Aborted, Devourment… and of course we are huge fans of horror movies and I actually write the concept of each album like if t was a movie, with the childhood, the trauma, the genesis of the sickness and how it evolves with my experience in psychiatry.
What plans does the band have for 2022?
Julien: We had a European tour of 5 weeks with Aborted which unfortunately just got cancelled… So we will focus on the other gigs we have planned to promote our last album “Obscene Repressed”, the European festivals, a UK tour in October and start writing a new album. We are also currently working on a new music video which should be out in February 2022
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Julien: Thanks to all our fans who, despite these hard times, never stopped to show us this incredible support! We can’t wait to be back on stage everywhere it will be possible! Thank you for welcoming “Obscene Repressed” the way you did and apparently you liked the special edition which makes a pigsqueal when you open the digipack! Ah ah!
Take care of yourselves, stay safe and see you on tour!
interview by Tom Osman
Thanks to Julien for his time. Carnivore Sublime [2022 Reissue] is out now on Season of Mist. Be sure to also check out the band’s excellent 2020 release Obscene Repressed. Follow the band on social media and if they’re coming to a town near you in 2022 do yourself a favour and check them out live.
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