Arisen from the senses of Ukrainian musician Stanislav Govorukha beyond the cessation of his previous gothic death/doom metal project Auto Da Fe in the late 2000’s, the ever-expanding funereal death/doom metal mind-snare that Suffer Yourself represents today has taken a few crucial steps away from the brooding hidden art of mid-90’s funeral doom he’d presented as a solo act back in 2011. That isn’t a formal complaint but instead some admiration for the greater trip toward the point of a full-fleshed band and, likewise the distinct ambiance-riche de-escalator of billowing death/doom which we are lost within on the band’s third full-length, ‘Rip Tide‘. Separated by two distinctly different and unequal sides, one part bravely gazing into the chasm of the distorted self and the other wishing for a watery grave, the uneven density of the experience delays its suffocating impact just enough that it becomes a thrill to return to in regular intervals.

Madness and mortality pile atop auld themes of dire introspection and sentience beyond death for this current adaptation of Suffer Yourself, now a quartet based out of the Stockholm, Sweden area as they reach their tenth anniversary of existence. As suggested, Govorukha initiated this project in 2011 while living in south eastern Poland and would soon produce the demo version of ‘Inner Sanctum‘ (2012) which still contained shades of melodic death/doom and what I’d identified as a Shape of Despair or Funeral-esque sound. This is still an ear-catching demo in its own right, an album length precursor that still feels ancient, homebrewed and underground in the most classic sense though it’d be hard to argue against the refurbish it’d gotten as a full-length debut (‘Inner Sanctum‘, 2014) with the band now a trio and Greg Chandler‘s Priory Recording Studios providing the mix/master. Here we’d find a darker atmospheric tone and death metal vocals to match, reworking the vocal approach considerably in the space of a couple years. From that point we’ve seen the band make progress on some key influence from Evoken, Catacombs, and of course early Esoteric but primarily the death metal inflection of these projects which we also find in comparable bands like Assumption, Urza, and perhaps Ahab‘s earlier leanings. This is especially applicable when diving into ‘Ectoplasm‘ (2016), perhaps the most accessible and genre standard work from Suffer Yourself to date. So, what was missing for my own taste back in 2016? A better logo, a less “standard” approach to atmosphere, and deeper currents of ancient death/doom metal. ‘Rip Tide’ addresses all of these things within the space of about a half hour.

The roughly 21 minute churn of “Spit in the Chasm” is going to be the fixation here if you are like me and primarily seek to bathe in the hellish sea of riff-and-ruin that atmospheric death/doom metal provides. Composed in relative complexity, dense with activity, bursting through its hard-resonant sustained chords and frothy effects-laiden shimmering this piece is the exact right introduction to the complete and current oeuvre of Suffer Yourself as they set themselves apart from the norm using fairly familiar tonnage. A dreadful rant, a spiral unto madness, giving in and excelling within the engrossed state of mental wilderness lands us in the floaty funereal world of Govorukha with seeming endless layers of coldly inner-shuddering vitality. It is hard to view the bands performances in layers due to how closely set they are, concentric and equidistant while blasting, blazing and generally riffing their asses off for a solid twenty minutes. As we pick through these innards it is plain to hear the most core influences of the project spread between three decades of atmospheric death/doom metal be it Esoteric‘s debut or a band like Spectral Voice, they’ve drawn a line of taste that is very clear and sensical to follow. That said, it is too big and singular a piece to meaningfully parse into sections due to the often non-linear sensation it presents, writhing like a decapitated reptile ’til the last moment. “Spit in the Chasm” is, for my own taste, the main reason to buy this album and the piece that provides the greatest potential overall ratio of analytical vs. pleasurable listening mileage.

“Désir de trépas maritime (Au bord de la mer je veux mourir)” kicks off resembling earlier Evoken in terms of its guitar work, not quite the wealth of keyboards you’d find on ‘Quietus’ but a progression that would fit well within that experience. The song essentially dissolves behind a spurts of cello and a key vocal sample around the halfway point which goes on for quite some time. Though it feels like a bit of a shame that the song fades in this way, it does lead nicely into the final piece, a drone/ambient piece from Belarussian “polar ambient” artist Ugasanie, who has given layers to the entire experience otherwise. I have to admit I’d largely stuck with “Spit in the Chasm” for most listens beyond the first five or so, and I have yet to find a connection between these three pieces that provides a central purpose for their grouping beyond a cold descent. So, the rock and the hard place of it all isn’t such a stressor — On one hand the one 20+ minute track is worth the whole experience, a stunning and compact album’s worth of material jammed into on storming piece. On the other hand the other two pieces give too ample space for reflection in between full revolutions of the experience whilst continuing a vital atmospheric thread that runs the length of the piece. Delayed gratification isn’t such a horror for the patient and I’d venture most folks who’d really latch onto a group like this have all of the patience life can afford ’em. It will take some time to unravel and revel within but the end result is yet strong funeral death/doom metal in presence and motion. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (75/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Rip Tide
LABEL(S):Aesthetic Death
RELEASE DATE:June 25th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Funeral Death/Doom Metal,
Atmospheric Death/Doom Metal

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