Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Benighted In Sodom - In Hora Maledictus Part I

I like music that aids my mind in creating hallucinations around me. Benighted In Sodom invoke scenes of graveyards and ancient monuments built to honor long dead Gods. The fuzzed over guitars, mortuary like bleakness and subtle layering of harmonious and disharmonious aspects allow the listener to choose how they want to enjoy In Hora Maledictus Part I; one can listen on the surface and enjoy the release's vastness, or they can listen to the deeper textures and enjoy the claustrophobic closeness of being swamped in sadness. Make no mistake about it, this is a release that is aimed at creating a depressed state, suicidal emotions and general disdain towards life and the will to stay alive. The cover artwork shows a scorched landscape, empty and meaningless, sun drenched and dry, waiting for any kind of relief but receiving none from the selfish and careless tyrants of heaven above. Also shown are suicide instruments, means to self inflicted pain and death; pills, vials for negligent measurement of chemicals and a large silhouette of a razor blade. This isn't the sharp, decisiveness of the blade adorning British Steel, the symbol of metal's razor sharp attitude and aggression. It is the blurred image of an unsure intellect, unsure whether life is worth living.

Lyrically, there are interesting ideas spread across the lyrics given to three of the album's eight songs, but I can't help but wish that I had the lyrics to all the canticles. With some lines being quite thought provoking and intellectually stimulating, they can be read without the music and still be interesting to explore. My favorite combination of lines is in "The Shepherd and the Atheist." Why must thou hide, if thou art supreme? Perhaps to hide the emptiness... It's an interesting thought, not one that hasn't been touched on before, but one that is always worth thinking about. It gives me satisfaction in knowing that others are thinking about their spirituality and coming to terms with breaking centuries of misguided thinking in regards to how we view concepts such as "God." The lyrical content of the album is of interest to anyone who enjoys reading lyrics and contemplating their meaning. Even with only three songs worth of lyrics, it will take some time to digest their ideas and decode their possible meanings.

The depth of the provided lyrics matches the fathoms of texture that combine to create the atmospheres of the songs. "The Shepherd and the Atheist" implants images of funeral pyres, gravestones and a general odor of death in ones mind. "Fountain of Lies", "Discarded Halos" and the ending of "Euthanasia" all provide mental journeys through the windswept deserts, fast moving skies and other slow moving landscapes. "Uncomfortable Serenity (The Opiate)" which happens to be my favorite track is a slow and brooding yet uncomfortably uplifting and soothing (this is one of those tracks which has a fitting title) song that meanders; waxing and waning throughout. With M. Thorn's vocals never being too invasive, these atmospheres are rarely broken. His raw, mid-ranged screams and yells are viscerally enjoyable. The rawness in his vocals is inhuman, so inhuman he has to be adding some sort of digital processing to them to get the sandpaper roughness. Unless his vocal cords have a twenty-four grit rating, there is no way... just no way... This inhuman ability however is inconsequential, as the music needs such a delivery. M. Thorn delivers and doesn't even ask for a tip. He leaves you fumbling for your wallet, staring at an empty doorway. He provides his vocals and is gone instantly, allowing you to be once more subdued by the ravaging sadness of the songs.

Another of those one man black metal "bands", Benighted In Sodom, according to the booklet, is, was and will forever be the manifestation of M. Thorn. I find it difficult to judge the talent of musicians in one man projects. It may be that, I can't decide if this new batch of musicians is incredibly talented, incredibly patient with their recording, or just mediocre, relying instead on the murkiness of tone under the guise of atmosphere to cover up their inadequacies. Either way, this is a well produced mass of sound. The guitars are fuzzy, buzzing of treble and reverb in a way in which a "static" effect is created. A soothing melodic static. The bass is a lumbering animal, a bit caged though audible and well mixed. Had it been pushed forward slightly, the whole release may have a "slow marching legions of undead" vibe going on. It has a vibrating ring and lovely subtle hot tone like the old Ampeg tube amps. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It shows itself prominently at the beginning of closing track "Euthanasia" and also not so prominently and coupled with a ringing live drum tone to kick off "Uncomfortable Serenity."

This is another album in which the drums seem to be less of a necessity and more a mere inclusion. The drums are buried behind the atmosphere, left to simply "keep time." They reveal themselves at times and do play a role in keeping the mostly lumbering tempo of the songs from becoming mechanical but are generally buried beneath the static textures. Even the snare is buried. The toms are the loudest kit component and, when M. Thorn is bashing out a fill, they fill the room with a lovely low bass tone. During the enjoyably misery stricken clean segments, which the disc occasionally ventures into during "Euthanasia" and "Discarded Halos," the drums are perfectly contrasting in tone - trebly and live - to the fluidity of the clean guitar sound. Ultimately, it is this trebly tone which is masked by the fuzzy and buzzing trebly guitar static - an inevitable problem of one instrument's frequency masking another instrument playing at the same frequency.

While all the tracks are strong while listening to them, I found only "Discarded Halos, Uncomfortable Serenity," and "Euthanasia" to really stand out. While the tracks all are steeped in melody, but not so much as to sound amateurishly so, the first three tracks all blend together for me until M. Thorn's vicious opening wail in "Discarded Halos." For me, the second half of the album is far stronger in song composition and memorability. "Uncomfortable Serenity" has such a strong cadence that even after I had finished listening to the album, I was, to myself (most of the time) humming the main melodic phrase which had created its own fissure in my brain in which to live, absorb my focus, and grow. "Euthanasia" is such a stunning example of how melancholy can be produced without screaming "be sad" at people or singing about how your ex-girlfriend doesn't want to be with you anymore (I'm looking at you Chaos Moon).

____________Release Info____________________

Benighted In Sodom - In Hora Maledictus Part I ( 2008 )
Band Origin: USA - Florida
CD Lineup: M. Thorn - All Instrumentation / Vocals

Track List:

1. The Shepherd And The Atheist
2. Fountain Of Lies
3. The Wizard Behind The Curtain
4. Discarded Halos
5. Uncomfortable Serenity (The Opiate)
6. Atrophy
7. Euthanasia


Benighted In Sodom Official Myspace
Obscure Abhorrence Productions

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