PICK OF THE WEEK: Suffering Hour make death, black metal fit their mission on ‘In Passing Ascension’

It’s been exciting hearing bands take death and black metal and push it beyond earthly boundaries. It’s always great when music stays traditional, and we love a ton of groups that do that. But injecting some imagination and otherworldly terror into the music can make it something with no limits that could take any form imaginable.

Another band going that strange route in Minneapolis-based trio Suffering Hour, whose excellent debut record “In Passing Ascension” is headed your way via the always reliable Blood Harvest. Their style isn’t just there to scramble your brains and dump them on a hot pan. Their music is brutal and fluid, very strong pieces that have a certain flight pattern but always find time to spiral and spin through corners you never expect. The eight songs found on this record are steeped in classic death, for sure, but they are anything but formulaic and predictable. The guitar work can send your mind into a vortex, while the vocals are smothering and alien, chewing away at your nerve endings while brutalizing your hearing. The band—bassist/vocalist DgS (also of Pestifere), guitarist/vocalist YhA, and drummer/vocalist IsN— that formerly was known as Compassion Die is a hammering unit, and over and over on this smothering album they crush you with their power.

“Insufferable Scorn” is an introduction of sorts, as weirdness and doom settle in, grim growls scrape, and the sense of spacey light headedness take us into “For the Putridity of Man” that rips open and boils like mad from the start. Gurgly growls spill, while the riffs begin stabbing with fiery blades. The guitars lean into psychedelics, while the bulk of the song swims in chaos before an unforgivingly crushing end. “Devouring Shapeless Void” is speedy and weird, with crazed, maniacal shouts jarring all your anxiety triggers and the playing just going off. Prog trudging and black metal majesty then meet as the cut blazes to an end. “The Abrasive Black Dust” simmers in noise before the guitars start to slur, and the cosmos rips into the room. The cut lurches and goes hypnotic, while a nightmarish dialogue sprawls over top, and the first growls strike toward the end of the song. From there, the riffs get unhinged, and the final moments dissolve into fog.

“Withering Microcosmos” has strange guitars and another dose of space prog, while the bulk of this instrumental cut soaks in atmosphere before trickling into “Through the Vessels of Arcane Power” and its unfurling eeriness. The guitars bubble while the pace tramples, and the growls go from blood curdling to manic yelps. The pace speeds up, while the music grinds away, and the last stretch is made up of authoritative riffs and blood-poisoning howls. “Procession to Obscure Infinity” is the longest cut at 8:45, and it has guitars scorching right away as the music prepares to open itself fully. From there, things get monstrous, with mystical slashing, animalistic shouts, and dizzying guitars rolling in and causing confusion. From there, the riffs blaze with melody, and a deathly march takes us to the gates. Closer “Empty Avowls” smashes from the word go, as the guitars swelter, and vicious growls carve a pathway to your central nervous system. Ridiculous riffs well up into dissonance, while a tech-minded serving of prog and spiraling guitars make the world around you spin and your path to the stars end abruptly.

Suffering Hour show both a ton of promise and muscular poise on “In Passing Ascension,” as impressive a debut record as we’ve heard this year. The band already has a firm grip on what they do well, and their prowess hints at even greater heights that can be achieved in the future. This is a record that proves death metal is in good hands as long as creative people with no intention on settling carry the genre on their broad, able shoulders.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SufferingHourMetal

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.bloodharvest.se/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.bloodharvest.se/