With nothing but a 2014 EP under their belt, it’s easy to assume that Suffering Hour’s debut LP, In Passing Ascension, would be rife with rookie mistakes, inexperience, and needless filler. Yet, the album displays quite the opposite: a band seemingly at their pinnacle, pumping out broiling blackened death metal with the ease of running a sharp knife through warm cake. Their brand of black death is powerful, mystical, at times restrained and altogether serpentine. The tracks blend together as this 40-minute long adventure slithers out the speakers and into your tum-tum, revealing more than a few moments of titillating exuberance.
The third track, “Devouring Shapeless Void” is most characteristic of their style. The track opens with a jingle before the more blackened side of their composition flies off into a style most easily associated with Dead Congregation or Incantation. All the time, angular guitars weave in and out of the main progression using near clean picking to alter the landscape. The vocals oscillate from more standard, deep death growls to a style more commonly associated with black metal and even at times, nearly clean howls. Just as you’re getting comfortable in that La-Z-boy, the bottom drops out and treble-heavy guitars pick out a cleaner melody over syncopated drums and vocals shouted as if from afar. It’s from there that the track lurches forward into near mosh-paced outro that extends clear into the next track.
Passing Ascension CD / 12″LP by SUFFERING HOUR&lt;/a&gt;
Elsewhere, guitarist YhA displays his talent as he leads the instrumental “Withering Microcosms” on a more cosmic bent. The track is a long crescendo populated by bending guitar lines and neatly arranged, flickering melody lines. The pacing is slowed here, allowing the guitar to not only take the lead, but to shine. Again, one track blends seamlessly into another as “Through Vessels of Arcane Power” opens with much thicker guitars drilling away at their death spiral. The vocals drop to a nearly inaudible and monotone baritone. But, like they often do, Suffering Hour doesn’t let the listener get comfortable. The track picks up pace and then drops into a steady metal canter, also not likely to last long.
And that’s a hallmark of their compositional ability. Each track is highlighted by a number of genre influences and a number of parts that could easily stand on their own as a more simple style of composition. But, that would not please the gods and that would not be good enough for Suffering Hour. Rather, they put forth the time and effort to make each compositional component tasteful, smart and well-placed. Even the metallic, sweltering outro is perfectly placed (although harsh enough to send the birds in your yard dive-bombing for your windowpanes).
It’s their restrained composition and their knack for seamlessly blending their tracks together, creating a singular experience, that makes Suffering Hour so exciting. They make their craft seem effortless and, at the same time, intensely intimate. While bassist/vocalist DgS (Pestifere) adds the most experience to the outfit, each member is able to stand on their own as a master of their craft. In Passing Ascension is an infectious album that will demand multiple listens of its servant. So, sit back, relax and let a sizable chunk of Suffering Hour’s cake slide slowly down your gullet and into your digestive tract.