Review: Suffering Hour – Dwell
Our site’s almost unanimous affinity for the alchemic black/death of Minnesota’s Suffering Hour could hardly have been made more obvious over the last few years. Even at this early stage of the band’s life, the trio have been showered with acclaim and praise. All of it warranted. Aside from their debut claiming #1 spot on both mine and co-editor Dubya’s 2017 top ten lists, #2 on Spear’s, and the top album of 2017 according to science, guitarist Josh Raiken also took out some of the biggest names in our Most Innovative Guitarist In Metal Today Tournament on his way to finishing in the top 4, proving to be the darkhorse of the competition. 2019 sees the trio return with an 18-minute EP titled Dwell, and after being incredibly impressed by the blackened death of both Noctambulist and Ceremony Of Silence earlier this year, I was very keen to hear how the new shit would shape up.
Dwell‘s three-odd minute introduction functions as a steady build-up into the spectral storm. The sombre tones also provide the melodic foundation(s) on which the rest of the song flourishes, with the motif itself forming a respendent reprise later in the piece. This dark melodic beauty is starkly constrasted by the aural anarchy which pervades the majority of what follows. Wild warping of notes is perhaps the most prominant facet of Josh‘s playing, violent turnarounds are constricted and released so rapidly that they take on such a strikingly singular sonic quality; if you ever wanted to feel riffs clawing at you from a portal to another realm, this is your chance. Each new twist and turn reveals yet another dimension deeper; another otherworldly threshold to cross, another beyond within. Speaking of other dimensions, did I mention there’s a galloping passage which breaks out mid-way through the insanity which conjures the kind of majestic metal mastery of Mexican monarchs The Chasm?
Overall the band’s sound isn’t wildly different, however it definitely feels more focused. Dylan’s bass is ever-present without ever becoming a distraction, and his vocals here are a near-perfect counterpoint to the music’s consistent intensity. Weaker vocalists seem to often fall into the trap of thinking they need to lay down lines during every section to compete with the instrumentation, Dwell benefits greatly from the space. Similar to the bass presence, Jason’s drumming often feels like it’s taking the backseat to the proceedings, but in reality they provide excellent reinforcement of the riffs and augment the entire song. Pulsing and flowing from section to section with snappy single-kick snare beats, flam fills, and even a few militaristic marching rolls, he puts in a performance which brings out the best in every moment of this 18 minute monster.
Resisting the urge to throw a bunch of contemporary comparisons at you here, not because they don’t exist, but rather that Suffering Hour own this sound now. The band caught lightning in a bottle on In Passing Ascension, now it’s become apparent they’ve somehow managed to imbibe the contents and cast it in any direction they so choose. Like Raiden but with riffs, I guess. Look I dunno but it fucken rules. Had this have been split down into say 3 or 4 tracks, it still would have worked based solely on the immense strength of the material on offer but daring to keep it all as one cohesive piece was a masterstroke. Just one of several bold artistic choices which pay-off in a big way on Dwell. If you’re feeling burnt out on metal, or even music in general, this will serve as an elixir of reincarnation.
Even with extremely high expectations going in, which I know is almost always a grave mistake, I was unable to shake anticipation. And usually, a band simply meeting that anticipation is an amazing feeling. What happens when a band exceeds those high expectations? For me? Well I dun cumbed, shidded, and farded my damn pants off. Over the last week or two I’ve been repeatedly blown away by this song. Even when I’m not listening to it, I’ve found several seperate parts manifesting in my mind during the day. Mind-bending and memorable, the perfect combination.
Pre-order Dwell from Blood Harvest Records ready for its April 5th release.
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…or make me insane with jealousy by catching them on Sinmara‘s first US tour