Death Metal that Defies Genre: SUFFERING HOUR SHOULDERS THE BURDEN OF AN EMPTY UNIVERSE
It can be a bit of a risk for a young band to drastically change their sound when moving from their debut to their sophomore album, but in the case of Minnesota’s Suffering Hour, this evolution (or perhaps mutation is a better word), saw them become truly developed as a band. The proggy, thrash metal roots that sprung forth on their first album grew into chaotic blackened death metal that only further matured on Dwell, their newly released EP and third effort to date. It’s one 18-minute long piece that sounds like wading through the dense atmosphere on some uninhabitable planet.
Such a profound change has profound reasons, besides a change in taste and simple musical evolution it didn’t seem like their first incarnation was really conveying what they wanted it to. “Practically everything we do in regards to Suffering Hour comes from the fact that in different ways the three of us are tortured people,” says lead guitarist and vocalist YhA. “One way or another our pasts and our presents are scarred by trauma and/or mental illness, it’s a lot of what brought us together even as friends. A lot of what drives us forward in life and in our music career is that we were all burdened with the empty weight of the universe at early ages. It’s something we need to get off our chests for the sake of survival, and there’s really no good way to push that message without the music sounding like the massive chaotic nothing we all exist in,” he says. “From the standpoint we were coming from it wasn’t the right platform to channel our frustration and distaste of living onto.”
“I feel it’s important for us to establish right off the bat that we’re going to be an ever evolving band and we’re not afraid to push certain boundaries within our own sound,” says drummer and vocalist IsN. “We don’t want people to always expect the same thing with every release.”
Needless to say, it was not a straightforward process, and their second album took nearly three years from inception to release. “In Passing Ascension was kind of a nightmare to get off the ground,” says IsN. “The writing process took a while because YhA really wanted to perfect the sound he wanted on it. He started writing it as a teenager and we finished recording it in his early 20s. I was 19 when I recorded the drums on that record and sometimes it’s easy to forget that, since the songs still feel so fresh to me when we play them. Then there was label hunting, which was a process that took months and then when we finally landed on Blood Harvest there was contract negotiation, sorting out formats etc,.
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But what took the absolute longest was our artwork. It took 8 months until the cover and the layout were done. It really set us back with the release, however I think ended up working in our favor because I feel like it was released during a really good time. It was released on May 26th, 2017 and we played Maryland Deathfest exactly 366 days later. So I’m really thankful for how much that record was able to change the course of the band.”
And indeed, In Passing Ascension caught a lot of people’s attention and was highly lauded upon its release. The time it took to put together the album seems to have been well spent and presented the sound that has defined Suffering Hour. One often compared to Deathspell Omega (with good reason) but still distinct, the move forward to their next EP was far more fluid with the experience under their belt.