Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Suffer the Silence - Good Mourning

Suffer the Silence are an atmospheric, melodic prog rock/doom metal band with growled vocals. They're not really heavy and have little in common with death metal other than some growled vocals. The music isn't particularly doomy either, the influence is there, but this album seems like a former prog death/doom band taking a sharp turn towards atmospheric rock, with some remnants of the past left in there.

The fourteen-minute opener sounds like a modernized Pink Floyd with a streak of extreme metal, mostly due to the growls. The band goes for a spaced-out, atmospheric vibe, eventually building up into something a bit more extreme with reverberated tremolo picking that reminds me a bit of a softened version of the buildup in Converge's "Jane Doe", though otherwise STS sounds nothing like Converge. The rest of the album follows similarly, the guitars are primarily atmospheric and not really heavy, though that's obviously not what the band was going for. One track, "Forever", appears only on the re-release and is purely soft and soothing.

The direction of this album is almost purely atmospheric and progressive, neither riff nor vocal-oriented. The two centerpieces are the drumming, quite interesting, and the atmosphere, which is a matter of taste. I don't know the band's intents, but it is heavily reminiscent of Pink Floyd as well as a lot of modern post-metal/atmospheric stoner doom. The shortcoming of the atmospheric side was quickly acknowledged by the band - it was remastered and rereleased only a few months after it's initial release. Impressively, it was produced entirely in ProTools 6.4 (replaced by version 7 in 2005) with only 512MB of RAM - it's almost believable that it took several months to mix it with that system. I am sympathetic to the production knowing that their tools are limited, but the production is very professional regardless, the only thing that could be changed is the atmosphere.

The atmosphere is a subjective matter - it is pleasant and conveys a certain feeling, but it could be stronger. I don't think there's a stronger feeling of doom than trying to make adjustments on that old system though. It is well done, simply a matter of preference and it's not often that I enjoy something so focused on atmosphere. The focus on atmosphere is a shortcoming though, as the music really drags on at some points - the buildups can be extremely long, and if you're not really into what they're doing, you're suffering without silence. The beginning of the album is a good indicator, as the introduction lasts a few minutes as it builds up into the main part of the song. Long songs are difficult to pull off, and with a fourteen-minute opener and a thirteen-minute closer, this can lose your attention on either end if you're not really into it.

Suffer the Silence make some interesting music, not a style that I prefer, but something that took quite a bit of time and thought to evaluate. If you enjoy atmospheric sludge/stoner/doom, post-metal, or atmospheric/progressive rock, this is something that you should give a listen or two.

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