REVIEW: So This Is Suffering – Palace of the Pessimist [2017]

Artist: So This Is Suffering

Album: Palace of the Pessimist

 

Imagine building yourself a castle the likes of which you can hardly even fathom—one whose size has no limits and whose majesty has no peer nor equal. It stretches for miles, ascending past the clouds and into the stratosphere. It’s size defies description; magnitude unparalleled, it is truly gargantuan. Do you have something pictured? Good.

It is the palace that serves as a monument to every failure, every act of inhumanity and every instance of inadequacy that plagues your life. It’s walls are built from the moments where you weak and pathetic. It is crafted from the moments you were cruel and unloving. It spans the soil paved by the atrocities you’ve committed and ones you wish you could have committed. And in it’s center, there is a throne carved from the bones your immaculate, marvelous failures. It is a temple to commemorate the death of your pride—but even at its most magnificent, it is nowhere near as breathtaking as the palace built by deathcore legends, So This Is Suffering: Palace of the Pessimist. 

In a world were bands seem to have lost their love for fast, pissed, pummeling death metal mixed with scalding, sinister and crushingly aggressive –core influence, Palace of the Pessimist reigns supreme—an example of yesteryear’s deathcore spliced with a very contemporary love of over-the-top oppression and creative, ingenious songwriting. So This Is Suffering have taken their name—already worth its weight in gold—and gilded it with platinum, making their 2017 full length and Unique Leader Records debut one for deathcore’s record books.

Remember the first time you fell for a deathcore band? Not the first time you heard a deathcore band, but the first time everything fell into place and the sound truly permeated your head and soaked you in that energetic, visceral, crushing wave of absurd aggression that is practically synonymous with the genre. For some, it might have been bands like Glass Casket—and for others, maybe it was We Are the End, or a band with more contemporary appeal like As Blood Runs Black or Oceano; the point is the same. Recall that first and most instinctive, primal style of death-metal-turned-hardcore and give it a lustrous new sheen—buff it with brutality and re-sharpened its edges with a modern-day attitude and a couple off-the-wall tricks, and you get Palace of the Pessimist. So This Is Suffering craft crushing, beautifully brutalizing and technically-inclined deathcore for a scene that’s fed up with single-digit BPM gimmicks and low, slow, monotonous breakdowns. Percussionist Zechariah Gamez is, in a single word, unstoppable (much like all of So This Is Suffering). From the very beginning of “Sleeperhold,” through songs like “Palace” and until the crescendo of “The Sum of All Fears,” Gamez adds absurd fills to aggressive, hyper-speed blast-beats and kick drums that drop into ghastly, jaw-dropping breakdowns without a moment’s notice. Even at his most adventurous and out-of-the-box moments, Gamez can’t ever seem to shake his shadow—bassist James Williams. Williams’ snappy, sinister bass tone adds depth and crunch to Gamez’s intense, acrobatic drumming. “Palace” sees this dynamic in its tightest and most refined form, where “The Sum of All Fears” is more ferocious and uninhibited, with Williams’ thick, grisly bass adding fervor and resonance to Gamez’s toms and kick drum both. However, atop the both of them, guitarist Robert Brown shreds, riffs—and yes, chugs—with the talent and energy of ten men. Songs like “Sleeperhold,” “Columbine” and “Dreameater” see Brown’s fretwork in a state that knows no equal when it comes to contemporary deathcore. Meanwhile, songs like “Palace” and “Lecherous” prove he can get just as heavy as any slamming, downtempo, pick-a-genre band; Brown is simply talented beyond compare in just about every arena when it comes to fretwork and writing both, giving So This Is Suffering the edge they need to cut their way to the top of heavy music’s packed scene.

When it comes to the negative, overwhelmingly nihilistic attitude one would expect from an album titled Palace of the Pessimist, true, So This Is Suffering’s instrumentation more than gets the job done—however, the true, reigning source or sinister loathing and negativity comes from the vocal chords of frontman Rudy Flores. Flores’ highs and lows—his rough, gritty barks and piercing screeches—are the perfect compliment to So This Is Suffering’s stellar instrumentation. From the brays and growls of “Sleeperhold” until the album’s bitter end, Flores’ voice simply refuses to get old. What’s more? While Flores is talented without a doubt when it comes to range and energy, he is lyrically clever and second-to-none when it comes to crafting catchy vocal patterns. When he screeches “if there is a Heaven, then I will never ever go there,” chances are, it’ll be the only thing you hear in your head for the following week. The same is said for his numerous, twisting and turning shouts that follow Brown’s beefy chugs and lacerating licks on “Lecherous” or “Sleeperhold.” Flores doesn’t disappoint—not for a single second—which is something considering So This Is Suffering’s lofty reputation and the full run-time Palace of the Pessimist boasts.

I can’t stress it enough—if you, at any point in the past three or four years have found yourself muttering something along the lines of “deathcore is dead, why should I even try a new ‘deathcore’ album?” Then you need to shut up and listen to what So This Is Suffering have masterfully crafted. This goes out to the basement-dwelling –core subgenre elitist to members of certain bands claiming they’re among the “only deathcore bands left.” Palace of the Pessimist is punishment that cannot be unfelt or unheard; it lingers in the mind and on the skin like scars and burns that you can’t feel—like a limb long since removed but you swear you can feel. It is the essence of technically tinted heaviness, and it is undeniable proof of deathcore’s will to survive.

 

10/10

For Fans Of: Oceano, Nexilva, Martyr Defiled, I Declare War, Lorna Shore

By: Connor Welsh