Thursday, September 16, 2010

Interview with M. Thorn of Benighted in Sodom

Hey there Matron Thorn, thanks for giving us at The Inarguable a bit of your time for an interview.

Thanks for writing me.

So let's cut right to it; what are your thoughts on black metal as a whole? What are your thoughts on the US scene? The rise of "depressive black metal"?

I suppose there isn't any one side to this that is altogether worthwhile. There are some really great bands coming from various places, but every majority has its share of lameness. The best music I've heard lately in the black metal scene, has come from totally underground bands that are scarcely receiving the attention they deserve. I have the pleasure of knowing such talented people that never cease to amaze me with some of the neat stuff they come up with.

A darkwave and overall gloomy '80s pop influence is very apparent in your music. What are some of your favorites in that scene?

Well I was into mainly late 80's and early 90's goth music long before I ever knew about black metal, notably bands like Switchblade Symphony, Sopor Aeternus, and my long time favorite, Lycia. Then even some more pop oriented music like Tears for Fears, and old stuff by The Cure, Indochine, etc.

What outside the realm of music influences Benighted in Sodom?

I have these very vivid, dissociative dreams that I draw a lot of influence from, after I take a period of deep reflection and examine their meanings, which is often something completely negative and foreboding, like a bad omen. 
I also read a lot in my spare time, and I've taken a great deal of influence from Bret Easton Ellis, foremost his novel 'Less Than Zero', which is one of my favorite books of all time. That passive, apathetic modern human nature is something which pervades a lot of my writing. I can relate to a lot of his themes on moralism and decline. 

Your "In Hora Maledictus" series is about to receive its third installment. Is there a story behind these albums? Are any of your albums conceptually driven?

I'm nearly finished with recording for "Requiem Maledictus (In Hora Maledictus - Part 3)" which would be the chapter to close this series altogether. The first album is a representation of the beginning of a life, no specific person, just the beginning of a human life from the perspective of a morally deprived individual searching for meaning in the values of a modern society, but ultimately left to find their own. With little to guide the understanding of good and evil, life becomes a listless blur of questions and disgust for the mortal hypocrisy of man and the futility of life as a whole, and this is the "maturity" phase, In Hora Maledictus - Part II. With this final chapter, Requiem Maledictus, the person is transfigured into the purified malevolent entity, the epitome of all the experienced evils and miseries, neither God nor man, neither above nor below, neither good, nor 'evil' by the sense of the word, but rather a living catalog of the sordid passages of abasement and pain and terror. Much much pain. The concept extends itself into a philosophy I've invented called "Negative Transcendentalism". Certain albums inbetween these would represent significant occurrences that have ultimately shaped the perception of this 'individual'. For example, the EP "Where Waits the Greatest of All Sacrifice" was written about the birth of another human being, ended prematurely in an abortion clinic, and the subsequent death of compassion for human life in the heart of the individual upon witnessing the callousness and ease in which life was disposed of. So yeah, each album is inextricably linked to one another in this way, and hearing now the course of the writing process, yourself and others can draw your own conclusions as to the hidden meanings in the other releases, and there are many.

You're quite the prolific artist. Along with the vast amount of material you've released, how much remains unreleased? Why do you suppose that material is in limbo?

Oh god, there are about 10 albums that I am currently sitting on, really just until labels are able to publish them, but also because of how constantly I am making music, it is created and refined too quickly for any one label to keep up with I guess. Maybe it is a cliche that if you record so much music in a short period of time, that it mustn't be worthwhile, and I don't really believe in this idea because I know just what it takes to create art in any capacity, and it can't be judged by how quickly the finished piece is produced, because true art is spontaneous and captured right at the source, although that isn't to say that there isn't a level of forethought in cultivating the design to be something distinguished and true to itself in the end. It's just very subjective, in my opinion. I've been completely let down by bands I've waited years for to release a new album, and others have floored me a month after their last album with something new and totally original.

How do you feel the "bedroom aesthetic" of Benighted in Sodom affects the final product?

My music is pretty personal at times, and it has always had a very human identity to it, and I think this is a by-product of my recording methods to some degree, but I've been doing this for about 10 years now and I know how to make something sound the way I want. If you are hearing it, it's meant to be there. I love my setup that I have in my room, because I made it myself from components acquired from all kinds of strange places. Some of the equipment is stolen, pirated, borrowed, or invented from undeniably amateurish devices, but a studio would rob the music of it's personality if I allowed it to undergo a digital makeover with polish and too much accessibility. There is depth to the touch of a sincere hand.

Your new drummer, Gionata Potenti (of Frostmoon Eclipse and a billion other bands), currently resides in Italy. What is it like working with a rhythm section over two thousand miles away?

Absolutely worth it. I was sure I would never incorporate another person into Benighted in Sodom after so many failed trial-and-error attempts to bond with others, but he is a true musician of experience and dedication. He requires no "instruction", as we are aligned quite well creatively and he is also a good friend.

Along with Benighted in Sodom, you have quite the array of side projects. Could you list them off and give us a brief description of each?

Well there is Andacht, which is another black metal project I've started to explore a more traditional approach to this music, with much emphasis on minimalistic, majestic sounds of wintry landscapes and forestial scenery, which are a constant source of inspiration for me when I have the chance to be among them. Similarly, but in a different genre altogether, would be Vagrant Starscape, which is ambient darkwave music based on outer space aesthetic and ethereal atmospheres. And then there is Carrion Blues, my surf rock project that I hope to take on the road for some live appearances one of these days. I had this urge to experiment with some type of ultra-slow horror-themed doom metal, so then there's Carrie White Burns in Hell for that. Lately, I am also working on Cathaaria with Cain from Snowfall, which I make the music and some vocals in and he will be providing the main vocals, and this project is really ambiguous right now, but I could maybe classify it as Industrial / Dark Ambient type stuff. Gonna be pretty twisted and eerie.

You wear a black veil on stage. What is the significance of this dark image?

Well, I hadn't had the veil with me for the last shows, but yeah for the most notable Benighted in Sodom appearances, I did wear a black wedding veil, because I felt it was useful in conveying a sense of dread and unease in the audience, seeing a creepy guy in a wedding veil, screaming (sometimes throwing up) onstage in dim lighting. It reminded me of the Banshee of Irish lore, which appears whenever someone is going to die, and they say her howl is akin to that of a cross between an agonized woman and an owl.

Now for a fun question: If you could live in any decade, which would it be and why?

I want to live in Ridley Scott's futuristic world of Blade Runner, because I feel like my life would make a fitting film noir.

What are your thoughts on the modern black metal fan? 


Check out my review of Benighted in Sodom's "Fort Lauderdale", being released December 31st, 2010, on Obscure Abhorrence Records.


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