Suffering Hour - The Cyclic Reckoning review

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Band: Suffering Hour
Album: The Cyclic Reckoning
Release date: February 2021

01. Strongholds Of Awakening
02. Transcending Antecedent Visions
03. The Abrasive Black Dust Part II
04. Obscuration
05. The Foundations Of Servitude

Well that's a guitar tone you don't hear that often in death metal.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? A mix of both. But first let's remember where we left Suffering Hour off last time. Formed in 2010 as a thrash metal band under the name Compassion Dies, the band went death metal with a name change in 2013, retaining the same core trio to the current day. Their debut, 2017's In Passing Ascension won them the position of one of the most interesting death metal bands to be on the lookout for, and their 2019 EP, Dwell, solidified their position so much that it won them a perfect 10 score in our main page review for it. Needless to say, expectations are high, and the sophomore slump is always a looming threat.

Most of The Cyclic Reckoning is in that signature blackened death metal vein of In Passing Ascension, but the guitar playing makes it clear pretty early on that there is something a bit different going on this time around. Call it spacey, psychedelic, melodic, but there's something really different in the feel of the album, and most of it stems from said guitar playing, and also partly from that guitar tone. Though some "May as well be nails on a chalkboard." or "every note is obnoxious vibrato" comments from our users show that this might not sit right with part of the listener base, I found it to be pretty similar to a lot of gothic rock in a way that I haven't heard used in death metal previously. Time will tell if this album will be looked up for this choice, but right now I feel like I appreciate it more that I enjoy it.

But that tone permeates a lot of the record, and it feels slightly different in its different instances, sometimes adding a touch of dark melodies, other times enhancing the intoxicating atmosphere of the already more melodic blackened death. I did talk quite a bit about the guitar playing because that is the most encompassing element here, but there is clearly a lot of creative use of the bass and drumming as well in working with the changes in the guitar playing. I can't say that the vocals themselves go the extra mile the same way that the other elements did, and they feel most in line with what the band has been doing previously.

The psychedelic progressive approach to songwriting doesn't see Suffering Hour dabble to much in technical intricacies as much as in atmosphere evoking and compelling songwriting. The band tries to replicate the success of the massive Dwell title-and-only-track in the 16-minute closer "The Foundation Of Servitude", but that's a pretty massive undertaking for a song we rated a perfect 10, so they understandably fall a bit short of it. Still, said track as well as the same methods sprinkled throughout the rest of the record construct a fairly unique sounding death metal record, but one where its experimentation feels like it needs a bit more polishing before being thoroughly integrated in the band's blackened death sound.

As of now, I think this will be a sophomore bump rather than a sophomore slump, as Suffering Hour continue to be one of the most interesting death metal bands of the past years, and whatever drawbacks that the experimentation and ambition of this record had don't affect it nearly enough to change that.


Written on 24.02.2021 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments: 2   Visited by: 74 users
24.02.2021 - 21:35
I guess that many people didn't like the thinness of the guitar so much. In fact, the heaviest thing on this album is the vocals. The rest is quite easy-listening (for death metal standards). In my opinion, this is a great album but it lacks obvious hooks. It is not love at first sight like "Dwell" was and it lacks the surprise element because we have already heard In Passing Ascension. The last quarter of the last track is the most memorable part and I believe the album would have been better received, if it had more parts like that particular one.

Still, no band sounds like Suffering Hour. This is going to be one of the best death metal albums of the year for me.
17.04.2021 - 21:39

Finally I have also arrived to them, even with much more time for new stuff lately, i still have a backlog of 200 albums to check - not all that new. really good stuff

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