For Fans Of
Oi, you know what’s awesome? Dark Souls, that’s what. It was easily one of the best games from the PS3/Xbox 360 console era, it still trumps its predecessor (Demon’s Souls) and its sequel (Dark Souls II) by miles, and is easily one of the best action/RPG games ever fucking made. Like, of all time. Hey, you know what else is great? The brand spanking new Make Them Suffer record – ‘Old Souls’.
So apart from both subjects containing the word ‘Souls’ in their moniker, and being a part of that truly fuck awful segue (I am deeply sorry you had to read that), they’re both fucking awesome. They’re also better than their predecessors. For those who don’t know, ‘Old Souls’ is the follow up to 2012’s ‘Neverbloom’, and let’s face it, people only really care about three songs off ‘Neverbloom’; the title track, the emotional, heart-felt ‘Elegies’, and the always brutal and gloriously intense ‘Widower’. All of which are great songs that the band will most likely always play live from that record until the day they are shallow, washed-up caricatures of themselves (kinda like AC/DC) years from now. But unlike ‘Neverbloom’, this record is filled with truly unforgettable songs, from the very start to the very end, despite it not carrying the exact same “epic” nature of that record.
The slow, melancholic and building instrumental opener ‘Foreword’, a combination of piano, high strings and Sean Harmanis’s deep, dirty screams, gives way to the insanely hectic black metal influenced, blast beat-fest of ‘Requiem’, and it is as gnarly as they come. Then there’s ‘Fake’, which is a far more punishing affair with its tight, razor sharp riffs and menacing views towards religious indoctrination and hypocrisy (how many times can you say ‘Fuck religion’?) and ‘Threads’ is really no different in its brutal delivery.
The band brings out the tech-y rhythms, psychotic lyrics, and djent guitar tones in ‘Blood Moon’, whereas fellow single ‘Let Me In’ is the melodic and emotive side of the band, and its vocal delivery and lyrics, showing a tale of redemption, hurt and woe, is incredibly effective. It’s basically the ‘Elegies’ of this album, and that’s no bad thing! The unrelenting pace and aggression of the album is mellowed out later on with ‘Through The Looking Glass’ – a melding of electronic synth and orchestral instrumentation. But of course it’s not long until you are hurled right back into the fray, and oh, what a glorious fray it is of modern metal.
As for the group themselves, keyboardist/clean singer Louisa Burton, whose keys feature just as much as before on this album, actually sings on ‘Blood Moon’, ‘Marionette’, ‘Let Me In’, and backs up Harmanis on the titular track, and these moments feel like a far heavier and far more brutal version of Nightwish. Burton also takes the full lead on ‘Timeless’, which is one of the more dynamic and interesting songs Make Them Suffer have ever released, and thus, one of the best tracks on the album. Speaking of vocals, on the other side of the fence is Harmanis. He still has those long drawn out demonic screams that made his performance on the band’s debut album so memorable. Though this time, the vocals aren’t quite as processed, and are more in touch with how he is in the live setting. That’s no bad thing, as his vocals live are very, very solid, and come on, those growls and highs are just mental (‘Scraping The Barrel’, ‘Marionette’ and ‘Fake‘ are some of his standout moments).
If there was one criticism it would be that the level of diversity has resulted in a loss of cohesiveness to the album overall. At times, the band wish to stand with being a brutal death/black metal band, and at other times they wish to side with a progressive metalcore style. To some this will gnaw away at them throughout its running time and to others, it won’t bother them the slightest bit. But to be fair, it’s hard to walk a consistent line between writing diverse music and to create something that is truly cohesive and fully representative of your sound throughout. Furthermore, and we are aware that this is a contradiction, ‘Old Souls’ would not be as good if it wasn’t for its diversity.
Damn you, Make Them Suffer, trying to give us something different and diverse, you bastards.
…That was sarcasm if you couldn’t tell.
Make Them Suffer have outdone themselves with ‘Old Souls’. The poetic lyrics and story-telling nature of the songs; the driving blast beats that actually drive the songs further; the symphonic and orchestral elements all result in a far more interesting soundscape than just mere chugs, low growls and breakdowns. ‘Old Souls’ runs at a break neck pace. It is emotionally intense as they come, and its mix and production is top-notch (on ya Roland Lim). Equally, it’s also far more layered and textured than most other metal albums out at the moment. There is so much to find and love within the 40 or so minutes that this album dwells within its running time. You would have to be fucking institutionalised and/or lack a solid internet connection to give this one a miss.
4. Let Me In
6. Through The Looking Glass
7. Blood Moon
8. Scraping The Barrel
11. Old Souls