We last heard from A Thousand Sufferings in 2015 with their debut album Burden. This was a dark slab of doom/sludge metal, and with Bleakness A Thousand Sufferings have capitalised on the strengths of that early record and produced 41 minutes of tortured and pained heavy music.
The songs are bleak and miserable, (hence the album title), but not without range within this. A Thousand Sufferings are not one-dimensional, and manage to inject texture and contrast into their music, while still keeping to an overall dark and gritty theme.
The mix of ugly sludge metal and old-school doom metal, (think bands like Paradise Lost, Anathema, Tiamat), works well. The latter influences can be felt through the melodies that are employed, while the former primarily comes out in the heavier aspects of the material, (although it’s obviously not always as clear-cut as this in practice).
The different tracks on Bleakness offer different things to the listener. Each one has its agenda, and sees this through with the relentless mindset of the fanatic. This is achieved through focus and determination, but not at the expense of mood and atmosphere. A Thousand Sufferings have developed their skills in composition since their debut, and these songs are effective in achieving their allotted tasks, and grimly affecting in their realisation.
The vocalist’s voice has improved somewhat too, in the intervening years. His anguished vocals fall somewhere between a groan and a scream, and like the music, he recalls a merging of sludge and evocative doom metal.
A Thousand Sufferings have taken a step forward with their new album. Textured and rich, the music borrows strengths from both sludge and doom metal to craft an album of emotive darkness and bleak appeal.
A highly recommended listen.