Review Summary: Suffer
Navigating the landscape of adapting a fanbase to a new vocalist often leads to turmoil and distress but when your new vocalist is none other than Tom Barber, most fans can be expected to be forgiving. With his second record with Chelsea Grin, Tom continues to be one of the most versatile screamers in the industry but this time with a more quality crop of songs to display his skills over. With this being the first half of a double album, Chelsea Grin are firing on all cylinders with brash, bombastic instrumentals, very thick, beefy production values and overall, very solid songwriting and development.
Deathcore is a genre that gets stale very quickly but at a brisk 27-minute runtime, ‘Suffer in Hell’ is in-and-out at a very reasonable pace putting its best foot forward in all 8 of the tracks present on the record. While certainly not breaking new ground in the genre, I feel this is one the band’s most cohesive offerings to date with massive chugging rhythms, very well-conducted vocal passages and songs that weave through various cycles rather than just remaining in a single pocket like a lot of deathcore bands get stuck in. Being able to go from intricate lead work on guitars to a more traditional chug style of playing is something not all bands can’t accomplish so I applaud them for keeping things fresh enough while still being familiar and accessible.
The first single and opening track “Origin of Sin” introduce a heavier lenience towards symphonic deathcore with choppy horn sections and dramatic choral vocals that explode into standard deathcore theatrics. Barber’s deep gutturals compliment the breakneck pace of the track with the lyrics containing fairly standard vitriol and rage inducing sentiments with a bit of a historical twist to things. The follow up track “Forever Bloom” features the late great Trevor Strnad providing his legendary vocals on the outro of the song. While not my favorite track on the record, hearing Trevor scream in one of his last features is certainly emotive.
“Crystal Casket” features one of the nastiest most absurd breakdowns of the year to close out the track along with some Tom’s most outrageous vocal passages in his career. The album closer “Suffer in Hell, Suffer in Heaven” is literally just a two-minute breakdown that periodically slows until it reaches a molasses-slow rhythm. It’s insanely heavy, completely ludicrous yet a very fitting end to a record that’s only concern is to be extreme in every possible facet. Perhaps the most consistent and well-written of the songs on here is the second single “The Isnis” which sort of reminds me of the rhythms of patterns of deathcore compatriots Whitechapel’s song “I, Dementia.” It’s groove-laced passages and vocal chants are addicting and complete earworms while still maintaining a level of heaviness that is expected of this band.
Chelsea Grin are pioneers and overlords when it comes to deathcore and to see them return to form is ever-so pleasing. If the second half of this double album as anything like this half, I’ll be a very happy boy and so will the other fans of this style of music. Every song is brutal with tremendous instrumentals and vocal performances, the songs aren’t underwritten nor are they intelligible ramblings of heaviness rather than organized units of sound. It’s a very solid release and I’m looking forward to more heavy goodness.