Cadaver Shrine – Benighted Desecration Review

Sunlight can cleanse or heal, but it also burns. The scouring properties of light sear their way into the foreground on Benighted Desecration, the debut full-length from death-doom entity Cadaver Shrine. Just look at the corpse on the album cover, face pointed upward toward the source of its demise. A halo of oppressive brightness envelops the nasty music on this latest of many side projects from Maurice de Jong of Gnaw Their Tongues infamy.1 These eight tracks blister and smoke as they crawl inch by agonizing inch toward the safety of the shadows. Apply your 50+ SPF sunscreen and pray that it buys you some time as we head out in the glare.

Benighted Desecration fuses traditional death and doom ingredients with a few tweaks that make the album stand out. The deep growls and lurching riffs recall genre heroes like Hooded Menace, while the guitar tone and sparse but melodic lead lines drag the whole enterprise out into the punishing light. Cadaver Shrine soothes you with weighty but catchy riffs while De Jong lets this slab’s signature photons go to work on your skin. The drums tick and crash while the bass plonks away, if you care to hunt it down, but it’s the guitars and vocals that dominate your earholes. The contrast between those two elements lends Benighted Desecration its unique feel. Cadaver Shrine’s spellbinding first effort earns repeat listens, with a few minor innovations going a long way even as the overall set lags the pace of death doom standard bearers.

The songs on Benighted Desecration get under your skin even as they make it blacken and bubble. Opener ‘The Reverberation” is a fine example of what works here. A trem-picked doom riff kicks things off, engaging your lizard brain while you acclimate to the song’s production and tone. More of the same lies in store on follow-ups “And Death Crawls” and “Dragged Away.” The platter plays with pace as it plods past. Late entries “Benighted Desecration” and “Faceless Abomination” somehow fit the album’s vibe, even though either one could find a home on an OSDM playlist. The eight tracks wrap up in just under forty minutes, ensuring that Cadaver Shrine’s debut makes it point and lurches away before things get tedious.

Benighted Desecration is an enjoyable example of the form, but De Jong is only willing to spend so much time playing with his newest toy before setting it aside. In extreme cases like this one, “prolific” can be a synonym for “addled.” De Jong’s body of work is crafted to scratch some eternal and restless itch generated by his own muse, without always taking time to consider the needs of the listener. There’s abundant talent on display, but not enough discipline. Any of the eight tracks on Cadaver Shrine’s initial offering are capable of engaging the listener, but De Jong fails to account for the tedium that can set in when good ideas are repeated to the point of tedium. By the time Benighted Desecration shifts back to death-doom for closers “Faceless Abomination” and “The Shattered Corpse,” you have long since heard the best of what De Jong is willing to offer here.

I don’t mean to leave Benighted Desecration out in the sun until it shrivels up into a husk. It’s a good album, and I’ll return to it whenever I’m seized by the urge to bask in its unique tone. But Maurice de Jong has already got a death doom project (The Sombre), so it’s hard to see why he needs an entirely different one that’s best characterized as “death doom with OSDM leanings.” The man has so many ideas, but he doesn’t need a different band for each one. De Jong’s tendency to spread himself thin has so far kept him from making a truly lasting statement. That holds true with Benighted DesecrationCadaver Shrine’s debut is a pleasingly punishing forty-minute crawl, but a little focus could have made it so much more.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Chaos Records
Releases Worldwide: February 10th, 2023

Show 1 footnote

  1. De Jong is also behind De Magia Veterum, Cloak of Altering, Hagetisse, Golden Ashes, The Sombre… I could keep going, but we’re all getting tired.
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