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Cinematic metal can be an incredible beast when it’s done right. The pure sense of adrenaline mixed with uplifting melodies and choirs, sinister breakdowns, heavy riffs, and vast soundscapes all create a sonic experience that’s near unmatched by most other metal sub-genres.
Since the release of their blistering debut ‘Neverbloom’ back in 2012, Perth outfit Make Them Suffer have always shown hints of letting their music off of the deathcore leash to set it free into the broader musical world. Now come 2017 and their third LP, ‘Worlds Apart‘, we see the metal band’s music explode into a dazzling assortment of sounds and colours; all mixed with the frostbitten tones that characterised their sound from day one. ‘Worlds Apart‘ is a musical exploration of touching, serene musical beauty and heavy, near-mechanical, imposing darkness. And true to its name and the words of Sean Harmanis to our editor in an interview last year, this new album marries those two starkly contrasting shades, resulting in a truly gripping and exciting piece of art.
The band’s 2016 single ‘Ether‘, while not included on this record’s tracklisting, has turned out to be a great precursor to what kind of actual quality would later follow it. Right off the bat from opener ‘The First Movement’, it’s clear that this new record is going to not only be phenomenal but also one hell of a new direction for Make Them Suffer. First of all, here, long gone are the overwhelming blast beats and typical chainsaw guitar riffs that once grouped them closely alongside the likes of Thy Art Is Murder and The Acacia Strain, among many others. As ‘Worlds Apart‘ sees the WA group opt for a more straightforward approach, producing simply arranged metal songs but dressing them up in these grand cinematic costumes that make each and every single track “pop” and sound utterly massive. For example, recent single ‘Fireworks’ relies on a collection of mid-tempo riffs that allow the vocal abilities of new member Booka Nile to truly shine over the top of; with the final chorus of this epic song breaking into a triumphant gallop with Nile taking over full vocal duties, helping the song to soar to a dramatic conclusion.
Now, on the topic of new members, the addition of Nile to the band’s sonic setup will be absolutely vital in the helping them expand further into the world of atmospherics, with Nile’s soothing vocal lines on ‘Grinding Teeth’ and ‘Power Overwhelming’ contrasting the crushing, musical savagery with a dash of haunting beauty. Elsewhere, ‘Dead Plains’ builds around a hypnotic lead part that maintains a dark, sinister pulse beneath a thundering cloud of metal noise. Even though Nile takes a back seat on the vocals here, the sheer rage of this band is let loose and the truly bloodthirsty nature of MTS is on full display, with Harmanis leading the heavy charge. For me, such songwriting evokes memories of 90’s Emperor and Immortal; with layered, angelic synth lines reminding listeners of the eerily demonic presence that floats just above the swirling heavy instrumentation of breakdowns, low-tuned riffs, and vicious screams. And I’m all about that!
Despite the deeper melodic dimensions on ‘Worlds Apart‘, there’s still plenty to love for the neck-sleeve touting “trve” metallers among the band’s followers. ‘Vortex (Interdimensional Spiral Hindering Inexplicable Euphoria)’ – a mouthful title that’ll take any Trivium fan back to the good ol’ ‘Shogun’ days – kicks off with thundering double kicks before breaking into a furious guitar riff, capped off with Harmanis’ near-trademarked brutal screams and intense shrieks. In the very same song Harmanis barks and screams like an utter madman at two key points, screaming what is essentially just “AA AAA AAAA AA A“. Though interesting and perhaps, funnily enough, those vocals are apparently a Morse code that more or less translates to “Ishie’ (Interdimensional Spiral Hindering Inexplicable Euphoria)“, a phrase that then ties back into this album’s underlying sci-fi theme and the full name of ‘Vortex‘; completing the cycle, as the lyrics state.
Oh and, if you’re worried that old mate has lost the strength of his lower, deeper screams over the years, then this record was made for you more so than anyone else, as Harmanis proves any detractors of his vocals wrong throughout ‘Worlds Apart‘.
I truly do think that ‘Worlds Apart‘ holds a very important lesson that many younger (and even older) metalcore and deathcore bands could learn from. And that lesson is this: EXPERIMENTATION IS A VERY GOOD THING!
Sure, what this homegrown band had going on with ‘Neverbloom’ and ‘Old Souls’ was indeed sick, but expanding one’s sonic pallet – even at the very real risk of losing out on those long time yet often close-minded fans – is how bands keep their creative engines chugging along at a healthy rate. As it would be a pure fucking tragedy to see music this interesting, this unpredictable and also this exciting wasted in favour of the same old deathcore formulae that has been running on empty since circa 2009.
Now, I won’t go as far as Suicide Silence frontman Eddie Hermida in saying that deathcore is dead or what have you. What I will say is that what that particular band attempted on their controversial self-titled album earlier this year was just as important for them as a group as what Make Them Suffer have produced here. Of course, you’re not always going to get the results you’re your after when you stray away from the standard musical formulae that won you your fan base but thank god that there are bands out there brave enough to keep things interesting by challenging both themselves and their listeners! Yes, ‘Worlds Apart‘ isn’t as dramatic a u-turn in the sound of Make Them Suffer as Suicide Silence’s was, but it’s a change which is sure to disgruntle a small few.
Of course, all opinions on this matter are obviously subjective (that’s really a moot point, if I’m being honest) but when we strip away all the context of the band’s previous work and view this album in a solo spotlight, we have easily one of the most refreshing heavy records that 2017 has produced so far. And even then, when viewed through a wider lens with the Perth outfits back-catalogue in mind, ‘Worlds Apart‘ is beautifully complimentary of their earlier work, while also adding something with more bite and mystique to the widely cluttered table of their genre.
So much has changed for Make Them Suffer since their pulverising debut in 2012, but if ‘Worlds Apart’ is anything to go by, this is a band that will age more than gracefully. Vibrant yet heavy, colourful yet brutal and bursting with vivid life,’ Worlds Apart’ is a long-needed blast of fresh air for the extreme metal scene; one that is sure to sound insanely huge when the band step up on-stage anywhere in the world. It’s also a record that shows that Make Them Suffer aren’t going to simply produce the same old shit twice, and that makes them a very exciting band to have around!
1. The First Movement
3. Grinding Teeth
4. Vortex (Interdimensional Spiral Hindering Inexplicable Euphoria)
7. Power Overwhelming
8. Midnight Run
9. Dead Plains
10. Save Yourself
‘Worlds Apart’ is out this Friday, July 28th via Roadrunner Records/Warner Music. Pre-order it here. Catch the band on tour with Wage War & Alpha Wolf this September. Here’s one of the best songs from Make Them Suffer’s latest body of solid work: