Aittala - "Bed of Thorns" (CD)
"Bed of Thorns" track listing:
1. Filthy Dog
2. By Trying
3. Another Dirty Whore
5. Left for Dead
6. Sadistic Charm
8. Bed of Thorns
11. All but Died
Reviewed by EdgeoftheWorld on March 23, 2010
When heartbreak, sadomasochistic sex, incest and molestation drive the subject matter on an album, you can bet it's not exactly "walking on sunshine" territory. Aittala's "Bed of Thorns" wallows in its misery lyrically, with gloomy music to match.
That's all well and good, except that often the album sounds like the kind of love letter a 15-year-old horny goth kid would write to his ex-girlfriend who just left him for the football quarterback. Eric Aittala, who plays most of the instruments and handles the lion's share of the vocals, could've used some help in coming up with lyrics that weren't basically expressions of "control issues."
The album starts off well, with "Filthy Dog," which has Aittala sounding uncannily like Gene Simmons as he sings "You are the pain of my pleasure" over a heavy guitar riff. Soon, he's "on my hands and knees" and "a broken man" being treated "like the animal that I am." Aittala punctuates the song with an excellent heavy-on-the-whammy-bar guitar solo.
"By Trying" brings organ-esque keyboards into the mix, over a sludgy heavy riff. This time, Aittala's trying to control someone else. "Another Dirty Whore" is an exercise in degradation — both of himself and the partner in the song, with him admitting to a drunken indiscretion of some kind.
"Torture" brings a female duet partner, Wendy Branaccio into the picture. She and Aittala harmonize well together, but I'm not exceptionally wild about the keyboards that dominate the proceedings.
"Left for Dead" begins with an excellent acoustic guitar part backed by symphonic keys. Aittala's vocals and harmonies work well. I really enjoyed the acoustic guitar solo near the end that's simultaneously elegaic and bluesy.
Aittala heads into full-on doom territory in the intro of "Sadistic Charm," which then turns into a meditation on hot wax, blindfolds and degradation. "Numb" is another breakup tune, but I like that this time, there's bouncy drumming and bass that keeps things from getting too mopey. "Bed of Thorns" follows up with similar material lyrically.
"Lust" is an intentionally repulsive discussion of incest that, frankly, made my skin crawl. I'm sure that was Aittala's intention — but I certainly didn't need to hear about a daughter tasting her father's love "as it goes down your throat" to the sound of industrial keyboards. (After the initial publication of this review, Aittala sent an email to this site saying that the song is actually written to be about "sexual role play," rather than actual incest. That may have been the point of view he wrote it from, but the lyrics certainly don't make that distinction clear.)
The album ends on a solid note with "All but Died," which has a great fast chorus and an excellent piano solo.
Instrumentally, there's not a lot to complain about. Aittala's obviously got some chops on guitars, bass and keyboards. He's a decent enough singer, though there are a few moments when it's hard to tell the vocal line from one song apart from that of another one. Being a "word guy," I found fault with a lot of the lyrics, but that might not be a problem for folks less interested in the words than I am. Those who want to wallow in an artist's misery could do worse than to lay down in Aittala's "Bed of Thorns."
Highs: "Filthy Dog," "Evil" and "Left for Dead."
Lows: "Lust," with its graphic descriptions of incest will make your skin crawl — and the music's not great either.
Bottom line: A downer album with some lyrical issues — but a mostly well-performed one.
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