Now here’s a release I’ve been looking forward to. I’m a big fan of Suffering Hour’s past work, (2013’s Foreseeing Exemptions to a Dismal Beyond, and then 2017’s immense In Passing Ascension), and their newest album simply takes their musical progression so far to its logical conclusion. Having learned plenty of lessons from 2019’s exemplary one-track EP Dwell, The Cyclic Reckoning offers 45 minutes of new material spread over five songs; the average length of each track is at the band’s longest, and the album culminates in the 17-minute beast The Foundations of Servitude.
On The Cyclic Reckoning the band’s deeply blackened form of death metal has assumed its most atmospheric and mood-driven form. As such, Suffering Hour’s unnerving ability to imbue their guitars with otherworldly feeling and bleak atmosphere is more evident than ever. And that’s just the rhythm guitars; the melodies employed are frequently on another level entirely. Suffering Hour conjure strange and unusual melodies that seem to bend spacetime with their very presence. Sometimes these are relatively subtle in appearance, despite their strong effects. At others, they are almost the only thing that you can concentrate on, so forceful and atypically arresting are they.
Suffering Hour write songs that are more memorable than music of this ilk has any right to be. I’d ideally stop short of referring to it as catchy, as this isn’t that sort of music; it’s far too daemonic and cold for that, and far too good at portraying cosmic horror. However, within the band’s chosen musical arena, they’re definitely catchier than most, (for lack of a better word).
The music is darkly multifaceted, with a range of grim tools used to craft immersive and absorbing songs. The death metal components of the band’s sound have been blackened even further, emphasising the increased focus on atmosphere and mood. That’s not to say that they’re above taking a more brutal approach when needed, but even these parts are not there merely for the sake of it, and serve a higher purpose in feeding the wider holistic feeling of the songs.
The Cyclic Reckoning is everything I could have hoped for from a new Suffering Hour record, and then some. Every song is of the highest quality, and there are some genuine hairs-standing-on-the-back-of-your-neck moments spread across these tracks. I’ve loved watching the band develop over the last seven years, and The Cyclic Reckoning is Suffering Hour’s greatest achievement so far.
As should be readily apparent, I consider this to be utterly essential listening. Don’t miss out.