Benighted In Sodom - In Hora Maledictus- Part I
Obscure Abhorrence
Black Metal
7 songs (57:05)
Release year: 2008
Obscure Abhorrence
Reviewed by James
Surprise of the month

The figure of Scott Connor, better known as Xasthur mastermind Malefic looms large in the American black metal scene, spawning countless one-man black metal acts following the template laid down by A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors. Benighted In Sodom are yet another of his acolytes, revolving around a certain Reuben Jordan, perhaps better known as current guitarist for Bethlehem. And so, as you might expect, Benighted In Sodom specialize in slow, torturous depressive black metal. The Shepherd And The Atheist opens up with a burst of hissing, static-drenched guitars and a extended howl from Jordan (working under the slightly silly moniker of Matron Thorn here). As is normal for this sort of thing, it's a heavily digitally processed piece of work, guitars and vocals swathed in layers of digital distortion. The rest of the instruments are buried beneath the mire, the insistent throb of a keyboard barely audible in the mix, drums keeping the music in death-march time. The song marches on for ten-minutes, suddenly bursting into furious, mechanical blasting at the end (I'm assuming the drums are electronically produced).

After such a strong opener, it's a shame Fountain Of Lies is a bit of a weak track, riding a pedestrian riff for nearly half it's duration before it gets going, Thorn exchanging his primal shriek for a half-spoken growl very reminiscent of Leviathan's Wrest. It may be clear by now Benighted In Sodom are not the most original of acts, generally cherry-picking from several established USBMers, but at least they do what they do very well. In Hora Maledictus is drenched in atmosphere, and despite the fact that I'm currently listening on a sunny summer's afternoon the record is still pleasingly morbid.A little overly familiar at times, for sure (I'm sure I've heard the opening riff of Discarded Halos elsewhere), but still surprisingly strong stuff, even taking into account that there are seemingly over nine thousand bands playing this sort of music right now.

Depressive black metal is a fairly limiting genre anyway, I suppose, and you've pretty much got to stick to the template laid down by Xasthur unless you fancy taking a trip into Silencer-esque gimmickry. Even after 10 years, however, it's a remarkably effective sound, proving that there's a suprising amount of life left in what basically amounts to discordant melodies played with enough distortion to render them almost inaudible. Uncomfortable Serenity (The Opiate) is an instantly effective track, working in as much riff-based alchemy in its four minutes as some bands do in an entire career.

In Hora Maledictus-Part I is, to state the obvious the first in a two-part series, with the concluding half being released a few months back at the time of writing. Expect a review in the near future, as Benighted In Sodom have what it takes to make them stand out from the USBM pack. And the fact that they've done this based entirely on, simply put, writing better riffs than the competition is commendable. What they lack in originality, they make up for in sheer sinister mood and feeling, and with Xasthur rapidly becoming more and more artistically invalid it's up to Benighted In Sodom to carry the torch. Beware dismissing this as yet more generica as I did, as upon closer inspection In Hora Maledictus is as strong as anything more established acts have put out.

Killing Songs :
The Shepherd And The Atheist, Uncomfortable Serenity (The Opiate)
James quoted 84 / 100
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