So This Is Suffering‘s 2012 full-length, A Deathscene on Delay, failed to distance itself from others within the deathcore genre, which had become to wane in popularity at the time. It’s use of grinding death metal riffs, blast beats and chunky breakdowns, while indeed heavy, where very derivative of other records that came before it, such as early material from Suicide Silence, Chelsea Grin and the like. Fans of the genre would have undoubtedly been enamored with the record, but for everyone else it was not much to write home about.
But after five years, the Californian band have reemerged with a revamped lineup and Palace of the Pessimist; the band’s second full-length offering and a step in the right sonic direction.
Compared to its predecessor, Palace of the Pessimist features an integration of technical death metal elements into the band’s deathcore style. There are many moments where the typical tremolo-picked, disemboweling death metal riffs are replaced by rhythmically-jarring, technically-proficient guitar acrobatics. There are songs, “Lecherous” for example, where the band employ lurching, pseudo-Gorgutsian riffs that bleed into face-melting, galloping tech death, dissonant chaos and virtuosic solo work interlaced with metalcore chugging. Then there are moments (see “Portraits of Fixation” and “Dreameater”) where the band opt for more melodic, even atmospheric at times, passages to displace the amount of eviscerating, metallic onslaughts. Combine these intense sonic whirlwinds with cataclysmic breakdowns of the highest orders, and extreme heaviness is the result.
But despite this new inclination towards technical flair, the band’s old, uninventive deathcore habits populate most of this half-hour album. Deathcore’s very liberal use of the breakdown and palm-muted riffs are to be expected and are not an automatic negative by any means. But here the band utilize a multitude of similar breakdown structures and traditional deathcore approaches that make a lot of songs sound like a blur of palm-muted chugs, with little distinguishing characteristics between them. Because of this, memorable moments are far and in between and it is quite easy for listeners to lose focus at various during the album.
So This Is Suffering get props for experimenting with the more technical side of death metal, while attempting to integrate it thoughtfully into their deathcore blend. When the band weave together crushing, groove-heavy breakdowns with blistering tech metal prowess, it’s quite impressive. But more often than not, the band play it rather safe. Palace of the Pessimist is definitely a step in the right direction, but it is not the leap forward they need.
Release Date: February 24, 2017
Label: Unique Leader Records
Favorite Tracks: “Lecherous” and “Dreameater”
For Fans Of: Lorna Shore, The Last Ten Seconds of Life, Rings of Saturn and Fit for an Autopsy