Matron Thorn is one of those musicians who work constantly revolving through various projects. The amount of bands past and present he has been involved in is really quite staggering. From Bethlehem to Ævangelist, Death Fetishist, Devil Worshipper, Oblivion Gate, Obscuring Veil; well the list goes on and on. Benighted In Sodom alone have a huge array of releases and strike as a very personal project for the multi-instrumentalist who pretty much does everything here himself. Since 2005 they have racked up over 40 releases of various description, many of them self-released and no doubt slipping through the radar of all but the most seasoned hunter gatherer of his stuff. Themes are pretty obvious by titles such as ‘The Universe Is A Very Gloomy Place’ the mind of its maker full of ‘Monstrously Beautiful Sorrow.’ Fairy tales and odd cover songs are another companion and even if you have not heard Benighted In Sodom before Carrier Of Poison Apples seems like a good enough place to take a first bite and dip into.
A clattering start sees us in to ‘Last Stop On My Way To Hell’ and everything combines together giving a blackened hue that is full of turmoil. Guitar riffs chug and a strange near ethereal sound is wrung out which kind of swirls around and coats the album nearly all the way through. Slowing the tempo and lightening the load a near Gothic melody does not so much glimmer through as tars the black coating of the music and combines feelings of beauty and ugliness with the discordant sound in the backdrop. Singing is pretty clean, no gnarly rasps here and they bring a kind of world-weariness to songs such as ‘Dead By 33.’ This is no lyrical stranger and the sort of self-referential song done by many a musician. It’s quite a haunting number but hopefully not one that will be autobiographical from the 30 year old. Without all the guitar distortion on it this is a song I could easily see the likes of King Dude playing. It’s a tale of a life well lived, “And if you knew what I was really like You wouldn’t try to stop me And if you could, live through my life You wouldn’t wanna live past 33.” If you are looking for a bit more cheer once that is off his chest you won’t be finding it, Benighted In Sodom are all about depression without any form of redemption, cue ‘Open Heart, Open Grave’ and prepare to be sombrely smothered.
For a near outsider dipping in down the line here one has to wonder if Benighted In Sodom really does reflect its pained artists life and if it is a cathartic project for him. It seems so damn honest in its bleakness especially when we get to a song such as ‘Raised Southern Baptist’ which brings many a question to the table as well as possibly explaining some things. Born in the USA and seemingly moving around a fair bit is this truly the life Matron lived? Here it has followed him to his current habitat of Finland but it obviously still haunts him. Along with the themes and sometimes torturous tones of the music there is plenty of anguish here and that makes this an uncomfortable listening experience as we follow it through the numbing shroud of ‘That Heroin Sleep’ peace momentarily found via addiction.
At times the near emotionless vocal stance and that constant warping guitar sound gets a bit much and an acoustic break is much needed relief. I couldn’t say this is music for pleasure that’s for sure. As far as a cover is concerned the pain of Nirvana number ‘Heart Shaped Box’ comes through loud and clear but is thankfully a track where the constant clamour of the music is left to drop out into a quite beautiful exercise in acoustic decay. That is of course before instrumental ‘Never Ever After’ brings back plenty of pain over its 11 minute running time to bring this melancholic soul-bearing exercise to conclusion. Definitely not an album to bring any cheer to the listener…
(7/10 Pete Woods)