Review Summary: you've got very little time, and most of it is mine anyway
Sleep too late. Scroll through shitty memes for half an hour before you can get out of bed. Try not to think about how your boss hasn't called you in for four weeks, and how you're secretly happy it gives you an excuse to sleep through Saturday mornings. Cereal for lunch and Pizza Hut for dinner. Just don't ever think about trying to change things, don't get cocky and think you're worth anything more than this. Then you'll be alright.
Having attempted to do it in about five lines, I can safely say that trying to boil down the entire experience of depression and anxiety into a 37-minute narrative (complete with hero's journey and satisfying arc) would be patently ridiculous. To Sufferer
's credit, it doesn't even try to – the 'story' here is more a series of interrelated late-night scribblings, one man's feverish struggle bled onto paper and turned into music by the voices of anxiety (Cory Lockwood) and depression (Shane Gann). Lockwood obviously has the chops for the task, having adopted the voices of abusive father, depressed lover, childhood anxiety and countless others on No Place
– think of his smugly sardonic 'hey, who can blame you for wishing?' spread across an entire album. Gann's low bellow makes for the perfect counterpoint; an animalistic roar beneath anxiety's cruel shriek. The album's schizophrenic progression means that the lines between the voices are often blurred, another smart choice which makes it easier to forget that you're listening to two people in the roles of depression and anxiety instead of the real deal.
In fact, the best moments come when Sufferer
pushes against the limits of its concept both musically and lyrically. "Chapter VII" sees all three vocalists in tandem with some beautiful harmonies for a sickening lullaby from depression to the sufferer, while the second half of "V" takes a sharp left turn into a soft lament that sees the record at its most devastating: "How many times will you allow me to cut you down? unintentional incisions bleed you dry of your time… are you wasting your life with me?"
On the other hand, "VI" pushes even Cory's credibility with a spoken countdown leading to a "ready or not, where the fuck will you hide?!", before a cheesy fade-out sees the voices artificially becoming lower and lower. But even with the occasional moment of lacking subtlety, Sufferer
's pale sincerity stays with you long after the tape stops spinning.
Compressing what it really sounds like to hear those voices whispering in the back of your head, not so much telling you as assuring
you that you're not good enough, not motivated enough, easily forgotten etc. would be a mammoth task, even with ten more of the best vocalists in the genre on your side. Thankfully, Sufferer don't swing for the sweeping platitudes, generalisations or ambitious three-act concepts. What we hear is just one man's lonely, shitty nights, the voices of his friends transmuted into the voices of his demons; an exorcism performed via post-hardcore with studio tapes as our witness. The only question now is the same question we're always left with - what happens when the voices come back tomorrow?