Ever since some random guy on Metal-Archives used the (grammatically incorrect) term “depressive black metal” on the forums all those years ago, the subgenre has carved itself an obnoxious little niche filled with “sad” suburban teenagers recording their guitars direct into their macbooks; utilizing the latest in shitty drum software and entirely lacking in bass. Granted, like all mostly-hated genres, there are some pristine highlights of the genre like Germany's Wehmut, Finland's TotalSelfHatred, and Benighted in Sodom from sunny Florida.
Over the past six years (though he's only been releasing material for four), Matron Thorn, the sole member of Benighted in Sodom has put around 24 releases under his belt, ten of them having been released this past year alone. Having watched Benighted in Sodom since just before the release of his first full length, “Plague Overlord,” in 2007, the evolutionary path down which the project has taken has been an interesting one. Already starting off in the fast-yet-melancholic, these past three years I've watched Benighted in Sodom turn into something I affectionately call “darkwave black metal.” Benighted in Sodom (BiS from here on out) features many of the complex textures found in 80s darkwave and gloomy pop including pad synthesizers, electronic drums, and overall cathartic, emotional lyrics (to support this claim, one of the bonus tracks on this album happens to be a cover of British synth-pop band IAMX's song “After Every Party I Die”).
The specific album in question, named “Fort Lauderdale” for Matron Thorn's hometown, sees BiS delving that much deeper into the nostalgic, pop-oriented niche that it has carved itself. Through this release, M. Thorn wishes to lift the “Florida vacation destination” veil from Ft. Lauderdale to unveil it as a bleak, depressing, desolate hellhole of a town. Thorn draws upon his (what I would imagine to be horrible) childhood, at least from what I could draw from the off-kilter album opener “Goodnight Moon,” which I take to be named after my favorite childhood bedtime story. Throughout the album, Thorn takes you, the listener, on a journey through drug-fueled depression (“Neon Stars”), local pedophiles (the aptly-named “Lolita”), and failed relationships (“Love Can Die”) in this sunny Florida city. There are some odd twists and turns on this album; “After Every Party I Die” sounds straight out of the 80s, like an even-more depressed R. Stevie Moore recording Joy Division covers alone in his bedroom, and “Neon Stars” turns into...well...I'll let you find out. It's a definite left turn by black metal standards, but no harsh feat for Benighted in Sodom.
The pinnacle of this album, at least in my eyes, is the monstrous “Love Can Die.” My first experience with said song happened around February or March earlier this year; whenever Thorn uploaded it to the BiS MySpace. My then-girlfriend and I were listening to it and she said “THIS IS SO DEPRESSING,” or something that a girl who was not acquainted with this style of metal would say, I don't know (I wasn't listening). Either way, I turned to her and said, “You're absolutely right, it is.” This song is truly heartbreaking, be it the distant, washed-out guitars, the slow, dirge-like drum and bass, or M. Thorn's desperate voice. What especially gets me is the argument sample put over the ambient section around three-quarters of the way in. Reminiscent of so many arguments and fights with loved ones in the past, “Love Can Die” becomes an immensely cathartic experience. This song, at least, to me, is the culmination of all M. Thorn has worked for. It will be interesting to see what turns BiS will take from here.
Of course, due to the truly progressive nature of this album, I expect all the “kvlt und tr00” kiddies to keep their distance, but, since I seem to be one of those “metal hipsters,” I will always find Benighted in Sodom enjoyable.
Don't expect any happiness or even a slight hint of any sort of uplifting tones in “Fort Lauderdale.” Benighted in Sodom wants you to be miserable. You cannot enjoy this.
Release date: December 31, 2010