Minnesota’s Suffering Hour jar senses loose with apocalyptic smoke on ‘The Cycle Reckoning’

Photo by Alvino Salcedo

It can be a strange and potentially upsetting experience when you put on a record and immediately wonder what the fuck is going on with the music. Actually, I guess that can have two possible outcomes and expressions. One, you hear it and never want to absorb what’s attacking your senses ever again. Two, the music could hit you and attack your brain in such a way that you’re absolutely mesmerized.

Taking on “The Cycle Reckoning,” the second record from Suffering Hour, was a mentally toppling experience, and I’m hardly a stranger to the band’s music. But the latter situation is where I was ensconced as this album immediately radiated in my skull and definitely made me cock my head to the side in confusion over the band’s bizarre ambiance they added to their furious blend of death and black metal. They’ve come up with an entirely different assault from 2017 debut “In Passing Ascension” in that the guitar work sounds bent against its will and mercy, as their melodies feel like they originate from another realm. The band—guitarist/vocalist YhA, bassist/vocalist DgS, drummer/vocalist IsN—focus on mental anguish and personal awakenings, putting the screws to you as you explore along with them.

“Strongholds of Awakening” ramps up from the start, ripping through and delivering delirium that combines with skullduggery. Strange melodies mix in with the brutality as the band hammers away, bringing a bizarre assault that ravages hard and chokes you out with its exhaust. “Transcending Antecedent Visions” unloads riffs that feel like they came from alien terrain while things quiver, and the pace mashes bones. Spiraling fury makes the room spin dangerously as growls slither underneath in the grime, and eventually a lone stinging riff sends chills down your spine. The band lulls you into a trance as the riffs burst, melodies encircle, and the playing rounds into what’s next.

That would be “The Abrasive Black Dust Part II” that continues a campaign they started on “In Passing Ascension” by bringing awakening guitars, rushing melodies, and creaky speaking that digs under your fingernails. The growls unload as the murk spreads, and dreary hell is achieved that sends things into mysticism. More mind-altering riffs and a raging storm unite as thing end in a slurry echo. “Obscuration” has a tempered start, though things are quite heavy, and the growls sound like they’re gurgling blood. A sneaky bassline works its way in as the clouds gather above, and just as your head starts soaring, you’re brought back to reality with gutting guitars, speedy chaos, and more unease that spills right into 16:33-long closer “The Foundations of Servitude” that starts making it feel like your body is vibrating. Riffs unfurl and explode as growls menace, and the pace plays tricks with your mind. Hypnotic fury meets with tornadic violence as the playing shows some swagger, and zany melodies amplify the mind fuck. Things ease up a bit as the atmosphere swells, and it feels like you’re in a fever dream. But then the band opens your guts, the vocals crush, and fog reigns as the back end tunnels out.

Suffering Hour’s volatile, seemingly cosmic death and black metal is in full force and deeply in apocalyptic hell on “The Cycle Reckoning,” the record that’s likely to be the introduction for this band to a lot of people. It’s bizarre and bludgeoning, an experience that’s not likely to be mirrored at all by any other band this year, which is just as well because no one can master this trio’s terrain. This thing will fuck you up, so don’t say you weren’t warned.  

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SufferingHourMetal

To buy the album, go here: https://profoundlorerecords.merchtable.com/?

For more on the label, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/