Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
We as human beings have to struggle. We all have our issues and faults, but it takes pure bravery to pour yourself into your music and lyrics. That's where Benighted in Sodom comes in. Matron Thorn (Reuben Christopher Jordan) is an enigma and a dime-a-dozen musician. Since 2006, Benzo (as he abbreviates it) has been the vessel for Thorn to release the pain and tragedy of his life in a healthy and therapeutic way. So in 2019, after a few years of no studio output, he returned with two new albums, and Carrier of Poison Apples is the most recent. Described by the man himself as his life story, Carrier of Poison Apples could be seen as his most personal album to date. As for the content of the music, let's find out!
We begin the album with "Last Stop On My Way to Hell," (great song title, by the way,) a doom metal song with ghostly melodies and sludgy distortion: it's melodic, depraved, and melancholic. Around the halfway mark of the song, it segways into a clean guitar lick with a dissonant distorted melody played in the background to add more ambience. The effect is haunting. "Dead by 33" is a catchy tune with an almost pop-like sensibility, but fear not, this is still very much Benzo. I love the way the main riff of the song is juxtaposed with the downtrodden and sardonic lyrics of Mr. Thorn. I also want to add that I really love his vocals on this album, particularly this song. "Dead by 33" will be stuck in your head for days to come. If there were to be a song on this album could be played on the radio, this would be it. "Open Heart, Open Grave" returns to the melodic dread of what you could say is Benzo's bread-and-butter. The opening melody is so painful (in a great way) and makes my heart ache every time I hear it. Even though the song isn't the slowest on the album, it crawls and makes you feel a desperation that you have never felt. It's an absolutely abysmal and dense journey.
"World Without Mend" continues the trend of doom, but this time with bursts of faster black metal-like moments. Once again, another great riff lays on top of a gorgeous but soul draining melody. "Face down in the dirt, would you love to be a face down in the dirt:" those are line spoken by Thorn in the middle section of the song and it invokes a feeling of losing one's proverbial shit. "Raised Southern Baptist" starts out with one of the heaviest riffs on the album so far, it's so chunky. Once again Thorn throws in some cool surprises, a fantastic acoustic section is introduced after the beginning riff and this is where the album really starts to push down on you and make you question your surroundings. I also want to make special note of the drumming on this song, it's my favorite drum performance on a Benzo album to date. I love the inclusion of the opening and closing hi-hat hits. I love the lyrics as well, I love the metaphor of Satan that's used in the song, and as a formerly religious person, it's something I can relate to. Once again, Thorn has a knack for writing really unique and odd melodies, the chorus cadence is amazing and it will surely be stuck in your head as well.
"That Heroin Sleep" (damn what a song title!) is fucking abysmal. Looking at the song title alone, you can tell what this is about. The riffs on this song are more focused on dissonance and being confrontational, very angular too I might add! This song probably has the most "headbangable" riffs on the entire album. I also love how the song cuts out before you expect.
Now we get to the most different track on the entire album, a fantastic cover of "Heart Shapped Box" by Nirvana. It's always a risky move to do a cover song, let alone one as beloved and revered as "Heart Shaped", but Thorn really did this with such class, I'd maybe go as far as to say that he even did it better. If you thought the original version was depressing and downtrodden, this one drags it down to hell. I do have to say that if you are expecting a metal version of this song, you are sorely mistaken, this is a slowcore version of the song, in the vein of something you would get on a Red House Painters album. This version CRAWLS. It is so painstakingly slow and the acoustic guitars are so painful and drenched in enough reverb to drown the soul. Masterful cover. We end the album with "Never Ever After," a song that starts with a more uptempo (if that's even possible on this album) beginning but slows the pace down and lets the riffs drone on and lull you into a sense of morbid euphoria. This is a purely instrumental venture. LOTS of dynamics on this song: clean guitar, acoustic guitar, etc. A truly exhausting way to end this album.
Now on to production. While I love really raw production, my only complaint is that I wish the drums and bass were more upfront, but for this album I understand why it isn't and this is the most minute of complaints. I absolutely love the guitar tone, it's dissonant, it's razor sharp sounding, but it's very raw. This is very much a vocal and guitar based album, so the vocals are very high in the mix but they sound so cacophanous with all of the instruments added on to it as well. Overall, a solid production value.
Benighted in Sodom is a band that is not for everyone. If you are into catchy little numbers about partying and getting laid, this is not for you. However, if you are really into thoughtful, dark, melancholic, and open-minded music and lyrics, you will enjoy this. Matron Thorn doesn't care to repeat himself and to lie to his audience, and that's why I respect him so much. I really appreciate his honesty and his willingness to pour his soul into his art, and you can't criticize someone for that. Carrier of Poison Apples is a journey into the mind of one of metal's (and music's) most underappreciated artists out there. With themes of drug abuse, lust, depression, lies, deception, and the human condition and suffering, this album will move you. If you are a fan of doom metal, black metal, and experimental music in general, I advise you to please search for this album. You will truly be supporting an artist who deserves it because there's no bullshit with him. He's been creating his art since he was fucking 9 years old, if that isn't dedication, then I don't know what is.
STRONGLY AND HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
Stay tuned for more Matron Thorn content, coming soon to a Sleeping Village near you! - Ed.
Benighted in Sodom - Carrier of Poison Apples was released Dec. 2019 from I, Voidhanger Records.
Providing thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy, and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry.