Suffer Yourself

Album Title: 
Axis Of Tortures
Release Date: 
Friday, September 22, 2023
Review Type: 

I’ll keep my introduction on the band brief and concise. Suffer Yourself were formed in 2011 in Kyiv, Ukraine, as a solo-outfit by Stanislav Govorukha. After writing some tracks, and the recording of an official demonstrational five-tracker, he joined forces with some other musicians. These original tracks got re-recorded and made it to the first full-length, 2014’s Inner Sanctum. In the meantime, Stanislav moved over to Sweden, and with new members, Suffer Yourself also recorded and released Ectoplasm (co-released with e.g. Satanath Records, run by the sympathetic human being Aleksey Korolyev) and Rip Tide (the first for Aesthetic Death). I adore all of these albums; below you can find the links for my reviews on these.

I’ll keep my introduction on the label brief and concise. Aesthetic Death is such amazing channel with a mostly open-minded taste, run by the sympathetic human being Sir Stu. It gathers bands and projects from so many different genres, which (almost) all of them belong to some of my favorite ones too; ranging from Dark Drone and Ambient over Industrial to Harsh Electronics and Noise, and delving into the metallic mud of Funeral Doom, Gothic, Black, Sludge, Doom and Doom-Death Metal. …and much more…

I’ll keep my introduction on the album brief and concise. Axis Of Tortures was recorded once again by Stanislav (guitars and vocals; also song-writing, engineering and mix) and Kateryna Osmuk (drums and percussions, + additional voices; she also hails from Ukraine), and Swedish musicians Lars Abrahamsson (guitars) and Johan Selleskog (basses). The result got mastered – what do you think – at the Priory Recording Studio with Esoteric / Lychgate alumnus Greg Chandler. Aesthetic Death had 500 physical copies printed, being an eight-panel (or four-folded) compact-disc with fine artwork in black-and-white, and a double-LP with poster. That cover painting, by the way, is a brain-blasting caress for sure, called Eye Of The Dark Star. There’s a tape-edition too, by the way, available via America’s finest LevtKvlt. Axis Of Tortures has become a six-titled experience, consisting of two very short pieces (a droning intro and outro) and four very lengthy epics, clocking in between ten and seventeen minutes. The total running time outreaches one hour.

This said…

The band still brings melodious, tragic, haunting, emotive and powerful Funeral Doom Metal with hints of Doom-Death Metal, Morbid Death Metal, and even some DSBM once in a while. The importance of the lead guitars cannot be denied, for the better part gets carried by harmonic strings, with fine tremolo riffage, haunting solo-work and fine-tuned dual riffs. But like before, Axis Of Tortures stands for more than only guitar-based stuff. The album’s sound gets defined as well through the whole rhythm section. The backing strings are just undeniably important: going from overwhelmingly monumental (just listen to the final sequence of Axis Insanity, for example) over rather supportive (fortifying both atmosphere or bruteness), to creating its own nuances within a grand narrative of frustration, anxiety, sufferance, drama, melancholy and imagination (or: insanity, despair, pain and time). What’s more: it breathes an elegant and seductive air of sludgy and droning finesse in all its claustrophobic immensity. And what about the drum parts? Within the Funeral Doom Death scene, drums are often used to be part of the ‘strength’ behind the aural content; yet in Suffer Yourself’s case, the whole drum and percussion section acts like an own identity within the huge effort that is called Axis Of Tortures. Which easily brings me to the next alinea.

A word about the sound-quality. It is, of course, of a high level. The production is colossal in sound; and with ‘colossal’ I mean: ultra-massive, almost crushing, for the heaviness trespasses any sense of mediocrity when it comes to timbre-tuning. Yet despite this dense gravity, it is remarkable to notice the excellence behind the mixing process. All instrumental and vocal elements function as one solid, robust entity, like a game in which every single player is as important, in order to achieve the ultimate victory. With thanks to Stanislav, of course, and the NecroCrypt Studio. This might explain the coherent excellence of this album, the epitome of this band’s magisterial Doom, like stated in my former paragraph.

The vocal timbre of Stanislav, well, I guess ‘strong’, ‘deep’, or ‘powerful’ are just minor adjectives to describe this guy’s throat. The better part is tremendous in vigour. His vocal timbre unites the Funeral Doom and the (Morbid) Death Metal scene easily (and in combination with the aforementioned sludgy guitar-sound, this organic transaction simply works). There is a slightly reverberating effect, strengthening the mysterious identity of this album with passion and pride. Then again, some barbaric growls, a few rather blackened screams, and several echoing voice-effects, are part of the whole adventure too.

A few additional aspects: what about the soprano vocals in Axis Time (done by Kateryna, by the way), with an ominous, gloomy, witchy effect? Or mind the few, yet meticulously used acoustic and semi-acoustic fragments throughout the album, each time putting a remarkable, characteristic, yet naturally coherent surplus.