Suffering Hour – The Cyclic Reckoning Review

The dreaded sophomore slump is always a concern after a band bursts out of the blocks with a stellar debut. Expectation and pressure mounts, at least from a fan perspective. In the case of the mysterious Suffering Hour, 2017’s debut LP, In Passing Ascension, created a deserved underground buzz and well and truly placed Suffering Hour on the map as a band to keep a close eye on. With just the intervening Dwell EP in 2019, Suffering Hour took their time in fine tuning and honing their signature sound in preparation of unleashing The Cyclic Reckoning. The wait is over, anticipation cranked, but can the band deliver the goods and cash in on their considerable talents and potential?

The Cyclic Reckoning marks an ambitious leap forward for Suffering Hour, exploring exciting and adventurous terrain without eschewing the values and signature components they established on the debut. In a nutshell, Suffering Hour largely deliver on their promise, unleashing a formidable and unique slab of blackened death, which offers much more than the label implies. This is the sound of a band supremely confident in themselves, armed with a clear vision of how they wish their sound to evolve. Blackened psychedelic atmospheres reflect off glassy passages of spacious post-metal guitar work, these elements entwined with melodic and deceptively addictive passages, offering breathing space and a hypnotic infectiousness to the album’s thick, dexterous death metal core. The grim, blackened energy coursing through the album’s veins, and exploratory nature of the spidery guitar work, is grounded by the hulking heft and authority of crushing death. Meanwhile, song dynamics are first rate, each twisting, contorting composition expertly arranged and meticulously crafted for maximum impact.

“Transcending Antecedent Visions” is an early album highlight, illustrating Suffering Hour‘s mature and daring progressions.  Suffering Hour offer multi-genre appeal, as shreds of accessibility and unsettling melodicism lend the album a broader appeal than perhaps initially evident. And from my listening experiences, it grows in stature and reveals addictive charms and subtle hooks. Largely transcending their influences, The Cyclic Reckoning finds Suffering Hour morphing into a more distinctive and complete unit, fully embracing their experimental and psychedelic aspirations. Centerpiece “The Abrasive Black Dust Part II” exemplifies this songwriting approach. A stunning piece of blackened psych-prog with a death metal soul, it’s an utterly compelling journey, lulling the listener into a false sense of acid drenched security, before hurling fireballs of blackened death aggression at carefully arranged punctuation points. “Obscuration” doubles down on the aggression with a thinking-man’s Neanderthal clubbing, and atmospheric, blackened cosmic flair.

Focus and cohesiveness are largely maintained across the five dense, meaty compositions. For instance, mammoth 16-minute closer “The Foundations of Servitude,” showcases Suffering Hour‘s ambitiousness and laser-focused scope, its trippier leanings and willingness to wig-out, avoids tumbling into a black hole of pretentious meanderings. Rightfully so, the guitar work is an intriguing and attention grabbing central component of the Suffering Hour experience, straddling styles and influences encompassing death, black, post-metal, psychedelia and progressive inclinations. However, the mysterious trio all hold down their respective roles with skillful aplomb. The cavernous array of subterranean roars and growls furnish proceedings with authoritative, primitive brutality, while the drumming is another powerful element offering equal parts rhythmic creativity, measured restraint, and balls-out death metal percussion. I still think greater honors lay ahead for the band, but The Cyclic Reckoning capitalizes on the potential of In Passing Ascension, though some listeners may prefer the rawer, more frantic approach of the debut. Length-wise, some careful trimming in the editing department may have created an even stronger impact, but overall the album doesn’t overstay its welcome or drag on pointlessly.

Suffering Hour have sculpted an intense and engrossing album, successfully building upon, and expanding, beyond the exciting realms of their debut. marking the next logical step on their pathway towards deathly domination. The Cyclic Reckoning is at once a mind-bending, hypnotic, melodic, brutal, menacing, mysterious and unpredictable album. Listeners unable to stomach the dense, nightmarish soundscapes and idiosyncrasies of the recent Ad Nauseam album, but seek something challenging and less conventional than your average death metal album, may find The Cyclic Reckoning an antidote to that elusive fix. Like other modern trailblazers, such as Venenum and Blood Incantation, Suffering Hour are ready rumbling with the elite in the trippier realms of death.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Profound Lore
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 19th, 2021

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