Suffer the Silence - Sorrow for a Doomed Nation Review
by Mark Hensch
When last I covered Suffer the Silence, I had reviewed their 2006 debut A Welcoming to Departure and found it to be a decent yet muddled mix of doom and death metal with random elements of the progressive. Recorded later in the same year, the band strove to become more concise with Sorrow for a Doomed Nation. While A Welcoming to Departure was recorded in very rushed conditions and with the band having formed only slightly before it was put to tape, Sorrow suffered from none of these strokes of ill luck and was a bit more thought out. Hell, the band even describes it as having a musical concept---that of a descent from death metal slowly but surely into pure doom/death. Morphing from one subgenre to the next without making it appear awkward is no easy feat, and it is with much scrutiny that I anxiously approached this disc to see how things turned out.
The final verdict is in and this is definitely an improvement over A Welcoming. The muffled and shallow mixing on the last disc has been turned off, though the production is still a bit off in my humble opinion. As for focus and structure, the songs are still a little generic or bland at times due to their meandering, but overall things are greatly improved in that department as well. In fact, the majority of the album is much more interesting sonically than its ancestor, which is saying a lot as that demo was pretty original for so young a band.
"Dear and Dead" will please not only earlier fans of the band but also those who remember their collective stint in an earlier death metal band known as Triton. The song is battering mid-tempo technical death metal, and nothing else. As one of the more speed-driven tracks on Sorrow, it is definitely a fun way to kick things off and ease into the band's eventual doomier songs. "Escapism" has some fairly annoying percussion flaws, but the angular, math-y guitars and prickly riffs will probably please many people. It surely seems like Suffer the Silence have upped the musicianship of their band, as everyone sounds better. The percussion flaws I mentioned are minor but noticeable; I think the drumming is (as it always has been in this band) superb, but the mixing has left them tinny and obnoxious at key intervals. The flawless transition into a wacky guitar solo and Opeth-loving clean passage is super-fluid and works perfectly, and this is a great song.
"A Life Unlived" made an appearance on the last demo and isn't that much different here. In a note of irony, I said in my last bout of coverage over this tune how I wished the guitars had been fuller, and here my wish is granted! It definitely makes this already solid slice of innovative death metal that much more intriguing, and it finally does the song the justice it deserves. "Solemn" starts off with dark draperies of organic sound and subtle percussion. The clean vocals this band puts forth were lacking last time, and they reappear again here, sounding a bit too angsty for my tastes. Though inperfect, they DO fit the music much better this time and it sounds like a better grasp of vocal range has been achieved, with most of the clean vocals wavering below low whispers and quiet, moody self-loathing. I can see this working in the future, though perhaps in smaller doses. As for the rest of "Solemn," the song shows excellent progression with a fantastic burst of legitimately brutal death metal out of the earlier, quieter stages. I can safely say Suffer the Silence has never been heavier, or more seemless.
"Of Torture and Creation" dazzles listeners with delicate finger-note patterns and rhythmic percussion before swelling into slow-paced, trudging death metal. The band again switches back and forth between the soft/heavy dynamic, with somewhat mixed results. I like the heavier portions as the growls are deep, strong, and fit the band's new brand of glacial death metal perfectly. On the other hand, the band is still having trouble making their softer portions stick out like a sore thumb--and they should! They are obviously much more used to playing purist death metal, and I think such issues will melt away given time. "A Dream of Her" is a rad mini-epic that begins with some echoing, somber notes and explodes into an unsual supernova of sludge-drenched noise. I really like this as it gives me hope for the band's future; Suffer the Silence clearly can grasp the doom side of metal with ease and force it into interesting, compelling realms when they really try. Spacious and hypnotic, this lulls one perfectly into a long, enjoyable descent into the CD's end.
With all the above in mind, it is definitely "Mission Accomplished" on Sorrow for a Doomed Nation. Suffer the Silence are gradually maturing from a death band into something slower and more menacing, and as they find their new niche, I find that it works better and better the closer it gets. Here's hoping they'll contact me again next time as I can't wait to see what they sound like when they reach the point they've been working towards on both demos---it will be killer!
1. Dear and Dead
3. A Life Unlived
5. Of Torture and Creation
6. A Dream of Her
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