REVIEW: Left to Suffer – On Death [EP/2021]

Artist: Left to Suffer

Album: On Death – EP

         Death—and the psychiatric stressors it can impart on the living—is one of the most heavily studied processes in clinical psychology, with countless models and methods emerging throughout the 1900s to assist in identifying and treating those undergoing the grieving process. None of these is more famous than the Kübler-Ross model, which emerged from her academic work in On Death and Dying. Now, since it was published in 1969, several other more updated models on grief (and other diagnoses) have become more accepted, but the foundation provided by Kübler-Ross remains undisputed; without it, the identification of complex grief, and the notion of non-linear grief would be nil. For those unfamiliar, the Kübler-Ross scheme of the grieving process is as follows; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. These may be experienced in a different order, or with more than one phase occurring at any given time—and a base understanding of this model is important because it serves as the foundation from which Atlanta deathcore outfit Left to Suffer create their breakout release, On Death. On Death sees the band explore the grief process, but with a twist, adapting the commonly accepted Kübler-Ross model to meet their own sadistic needs. Laden with unfiltered aggression and immolating, break-neck energy, On Death is an explosive release that sees Left to Suffer inject a heaping dose of nu-metallic influence and dissonant spasticity into their otherwise beefy and brazen brand of deathcore.

         Where the material from Left to Suffer’s A Year of Suffering saw the band creating immense deathcore, erupting into the underground heavy music scene with a near-deafening bang, On Death sees a more refined (yet equally combustive) display of raunchy aggression. While “Event” might begin innocuously enough, it quickly morphs into a monstrously groovy cut, with a kick drum packing a dancy candor serving as a firmament for thick, bouncy bass and grimy guitar. Other tracks—“Bargaining” for example—see faster-paced percussion working hand-in-hand with more intricate fretwork, playing on the band’s deathcore roots. “Anger” does this as well, all while balancing the catchy, flashy infusion of the band’s nu-metallic influence. Left to Suffer provide immense instrumental variety through a relatively brief offering—with songs like “Event,” a dynamic exploration through atmosphere and punchy groove coexisting alongside “Death,” which is the sonic equivalent to someone opening an umbrella inside your ass. Each song provides a stellar blend of technicality, found throughout speedy drumming with vibrant fills and stellar segues balanced with bone-busting brutality, with climactic breakdowns like those in “Event,” “Anger” and “Bargaining” hitting the listener like a freight train. The band’s instrumental dynamism has simultaneously expanded to cover new sounds and influences while becoming more refined and razor-sharp, providing excellent examples of creative, crushing songwriting.

         Perhaps the aspect in which Left to Suffer have made the biggest impact throughout the year they’ve spent climbing to a position of relative notoriety is their vocal element. In brief: On Death has it all. From the eerie singing that pops up on “Event” and “Depression” to the gutwrenching bellows on “Death” and everything in between, Left to Suffer let it all hang out when it comes to the vocal onslaught that brings the concept behind On Death to life. “Bargaining” sees a more frantic side to the band’s vocal nature, with shrieks and rapid-fire candor that brilliantly matches the guest appearance by Alpha Wolf’s Lochie Keogh. Likewise, Tom Barber on “Death” draws out the heaviest elements of the EP’s heaviest track without skipping a beat. The takeaway is that not only is Left to Suffer’s native vocal effort nothing short of phenomenal, but their choice in guest appearances adds even more punch and power to whichever track they appear on—and, in turn, the release as a whole.

         Left to Suffer have been snowballing for the better part of a year—something hard to do considering many aspects of the music community have been in a standstill for just as much time. Through pumping out carefully crafted content and creating crushing, inventive music that doesn’t skimp on personality or aggression, Left to Suffer have rightfully earned every ounce of notoriety they’ve garnered. On Death is a relentless release, thoroughly riveting and easy to get lost in, taking the traditional, tired “Kübler-Ross concept” and adding a demented ending, reinventing the concept altogether while contributing heftily to the genre as a whole.


For Fans Of: Bodysnatcher, VCTMS, Spite, Chelsea Grin

By: Connor Welsh