Suffer & Become

Century Media
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Shame and its Afterbirth
02. The Flowers of Sadism
03. Nursing from the Mother Wound
04. The Isolating Lie of Learning Another
05. Survival's Careening Inertia
06. Weaponized Loss
07. Flood of Predation
08. Locked in Thine Frothing Wisdom
09. I am Every Enemy
10. He Will Fight Savagely

Portland's VITRIOL has been turning heads as one of death metal's most exciting rising bands, not only by virtue of their 2017 EP "Pain Will Define Their Death" and their debut full-length, 2019's relentless "To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice", but also because of their intense live performances. The band was formed in 2013, from the ashes of deathcore act THOSE WHO LIE BENEATH, which included VITRIOL mainstays Kyle Rasmussen (guitarist/vocalist) and Adam Roethlisberger (bassist/vocalist). The pair's longstanding chemistry and established musical relationship is obvious with all that VITRIOL has accomplished. Now, with considerable anticipation for the Oregonian extreme metal machine's sophomore effort, "Suffer & Become", they have produced a monstrous and much more diverse expression than all that came before.

The title, "Suffer & Become" reflects the less than smooth process of everything coming together for this new album, yet it also ultimately points toward a rewarding end point. The 10 songs maintain the ensemble's well-known belligerence and technically precise delivery, but for Rasmussen, the goal was to embrace catharsis and a sense of optimism through it all. Opener "Shame and its Afterbirth" starts things off with a biting but noticeably measured attack. Menacing, melodious guitar work dramatically bubbles up prior to a barrage of death metal chaos.

The tech death maniacs haven't by any means abandoned their penchant for cutthroat savagery, though. "Nursing from the Mother Wound" unloads with, ahem, complete vitriol, very much in the vein of HATE ETERNAL, an obvious reference point throughout but most overtly here. Slower tempos do surface, though, infrequently but effectively, as with the onset of "The Isolating Lie of Learning Another". In the same way that SLAYER should have probably explored slower material further, this is an instance illustrating VITRIOL's depth that's suggested but not fully realized.

Simple but perfectly placed keyboard parts, most notably on "Weaponized Loss", augment VITRIOL's blackened sensibilities and create an otherworldly atmosphere. While it's vastly different stylistically from the legendary IMPRECATION, this sparing keyboard employment is parallel in approach, and it serves the same purpose. For those craving jackhammer rage and manic blasting, VITRIOL hasn't forgotten its roots. Sequenced toward the album's end, "Locked in Thine Frothing Wisdom" and "I am Every Enemy" aim directly for the jugular from the get-go, and the hacking never subsides.

VITRIOL strike gold here by maintaining their core facet of neck-snapping, aggressive death metal while building upon it to add texture and color that's well beyond the scope of simple, brutal death metal. Emotional, violent tech death may not make the most sense on paper, but VITRIOL have just proven that it can be done. For those who have seen the band live, they don't shy away from their inclination for love in the same way that they dive into feelings that are much more hateful.

Author: Jay H. Gorania
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