Suffering Hour - The Cyclic Reckoning
Genre: Black/Death Metal
Release Date: 19th February 2021
Record Label(s): Profound Lore Records
DgS - Bass, Vocals
IsN - Drums
YhA - Guitars
Suffering Hour - Strongholds Of Awakening
Rating (out of 5🤘): 🤘🤘🤘🤘
Favourite Track(s): Strongholds Of Awakening, The Abrasive Black Dust Part II, The Foundations Of Servitude
A demonically dark reckoning for humanity in the form of pounding United States Black Metal (USBM). Moving away from their progressive thrash roots under the name Compassion Dies, Suffering Hour have successfully transitioned into a brutally raw and uncompromising black metal band, with some progressive elements. Their latest album sees them build further on 2019's In Passing Ascension, with an even more surreal and strange atmosphere. The esoteric black metal magick that emits from this album will take you to realms previously unknown, exploring the ultimate sadness in life and death. Since spawning from the shadows in 2014, Suffering Hour have already created a unique brand of USBM, The Cyclic Reckoning furthers this continued evolution.
One thing that you will notice instantly is the unique use of the flange/chorus processing in the main lead riffs, this isn't especially common in black metal, and gives the album an eerie and strange atmosphere. There is an intensity that does let you get stressed, but instead keeps you on the edge of your seat. As these riffs seemingly revolve around you, you feel like the shadows are encroaching in on all sides. It certainly offers an abstract version of the usual discordant chaos we come to expect in black metal albums, but this experimental take on black metal is very much welcome. Swinging between raw, highly atmospheric black metal and the throes of demonic and ruthless death metal with ease, has been a staple of the band's style. The Cyclic Reckoning sees the band capitalise on the former more than the latter. There is a lot of space in this album, bringing up emotions of isolation and loneliness in a vast environment, that probably reflects the mountain ranges and sprawling wildernesses of the band's Minnesota base. The intricate and dissonant riffs aided by the multi-effected guitar combined with the sparsity of the vocals put you in a deep, unnerving trance. This further cements the band's progression into more atmospheric soundscapes providing enough contrasts with 2019's In Passing Ascension, and simultaneously being the next logical step forward. Conjuring up dark and mysterious imagery, there is a cosmic ritual appeal to the album, best demonstrated by The Abrasive Black Dust Part II, a follow up to The Abrasive Black Dust and it does feel like a second part to a grander piece but stands out firmly on it's own as a bastion for this new musical direction. Even so, the traditional black metal chaos is still a massive part of the album, this adds to the dynamic range of the album, in turn keeping the music continually interesting as it morphs and evolves from more progressive passages into the blunt force blast beat tremolo riff sections. Overall the album is a diverse and experimental transition from the band's previous endeavours, with the flange/chorus riffs becoming a staple of the band's sound. The Cyclic Reckoning will help make the band stand out amongst the crowd with this unique, eerie and haunting feature.
The aforementioned modulation effects is the first thing that you will notice about the production. While it could be considered as a more compositional feature, the way it has been mixed gives the riffs and omnipresent feel. There is also a beautifully raw edge to the recordings, drenched in fuzz and distortion which modulates around your head is surprisingly refreshing and interesting. With bass being equally distorted and grimy sounding, it adds to the intense and dark vibe of the album, but it can sometimes get lost in the mix. The drums have a very retro sound, similar to the 1992-94 black metal drum sound in Finland which is epic to hear, but the snare can sometimes loose it's edge. Despite this the cymbals make an expert job of cutting through the mix to give the album a bit of sharpness. Overall the album mix has a retro feel that is brought into the 21st century with experimental modulation.
If you fancy some USBM with some unusual black metal elements, then listen to The Cyclic Reckoning to satiate your dark and experimental needs!
Suffering Hour - The Cyclic Reckoning