Review Summary: Digging graves only to survive the fall
Friday afternoon. Sitting at my desk, anxiously awaiting Make Them Suffer’s fourth full length effort. Despite the underwhelming pre-release singles, I press play, expecting little yet hoping for much. As the opening track rushed through my earphones, quickly jumping from clean, atmospheric guitar, to signature Make Them Suffer riffing, to an abrupt change to open chugging, the variety struck me in an odd way that left me with a feeling of incompletion. This lack of cohesion within “Step One” was only the beginning, paving the way for a stark concept of incompletion exemplified throughout the entire album.
Following the years of consistent outputs that were both cohesive and fairly innovative and original within the genre, How to Survive a Funeral
sticks out like a sore thumb in the band’s discography. Relying heavily on immense variety, much of the album falls into the “hit or miss” category, showing signs of genuinely impressive songwriting while simultaneously falling short of cohesive efforts. Indicated through the pre-release singles, tracks like “Drown With Me” and “Bones” showcase a band overextending their composition capabilities through awkwardly structured transitions, oxymoronic songwriting with aggressive verses and lofty, clean choruses, and an immense lack of genuine cohesion within the tracks. The heavier moments of these “bipolar tracks” harken back to the band’s early deathcore-influenced days, showing flourishes of groove and occasional technical displays, yet it feels forced at times. Within “Soul Decay,” the breakdown feels like an afterthought, as if the band felt it necessary to add an “intense, deathcore” moment to please fans, only to leave listeners with a recycled riff that ruins momentum. Moreover, the juxtaposition of the softer moments hold an even greater responsibility of fault within these tracks, often feeling misplaced and jumbled throughout. Although intended to feel like an emotional chorus, the melodies contained within “Erase Me” feel alienated from the rest of the song, despite Booka’s impressive voice. However, with the recognition of Booka’s airy, innocent voice that glides across the instrumentation, How to Survive a Funeral
forces inorganic melodies that signify a sense of a lack of chemistry, creating an unsettling displacement for the reader (as exemplified through the title track).
However, looking past the obvious flaws of the record, Make Them Suffer stand their ground as fantastic musicians in the midst of songwriting weakness. Despite the lack of cohesion, How to Survive a Funeral
is full of individually impressive tracks that show the band firing on all cylinders. Their signature sound of intense riffing and infectious groove is prevalent throughout “That’s Just Life” and “Falling Ashes,” reminding listeners of the true beasts behind the record and presenting composition reminiscent of their previous efforts. Alongside this, Sean is at the top of his game with some of his best vocal performances throughout the band’s entire career span. Fluidly moving from effortless low growls in “Drown With Me” to the high shrieks in “Fake Your Own Death,” Sean passionately tells a semi-conceptual story of desiring death to the acceptance of life as it is with the anguish of this journey encapsulated within his pure vocal diversity. Although much of the album’s enjoyment lies in the reliance of their previous style, Make Them Suffer also succeeds in a venture of newer stylings, stripping back their sound to a borderline ballad in “The Attendant,” which models the perfect melodic composition that the record as a whole failed to implement. The combination of Sean’s impressive cleans and Booka’s hauntingly beautiful melodic accompaniment results in a gorgeous display of Make Them Suffer’s true power of emotional songwriting and gorgeous composition.
With such strikingly blatant flaws in the record, it’s a pain to fans to hear the quality of Make Them Suffer’s newest release fall short of its predecessors. The juxtaposition of the songwriting and overall lack of cohesion fails to push How to Survive a Funeral
to the same caliber as Worlds Apart
, hindering the impressive consistency of the band’s previous work. Nonetheless, their fourth full length still shows signs of a band that knows how to craft a brilliant album with trademark aggression and newly found, stripped down beauty. Despite the hiccup in quality, Make Them Suffer is nevertheless a band with great potential with plenty of room to improve and return to their previous work of consistency.