Axis Of Tortures by Suffer YourselfRelease date: September 22, 2023
Label: Aesthetic Death
If Rip Tide represented the sound of a band who had grown out of their limitations, experimenting in form and sound while stripping back much of the excess weight, Axis Of Tortures brings Suffer Yourself’s savagery to its pinnacle, a block of death metal misery as heavy as granite, pocketed with patches of unease and dissonance. Based around the concept of a mathematical ‘map’ of torture, with 3 axes (Insanity, Pain and Despair) and a fourth variable (Time) providing a (potentially) four-dimensional space within which an individual can exist and move, experiencing some degree of any or all of those variables. Essentially, we all live in a permanent state of torture, so why not explore our surroundings?
Each of these axes are explored at great length across four sprawling compositions totalling almost an hour of crushing weight, ‘Axis Insanity’ leading the charge with a disarmingly muted intro. There’s a focus on melancholy, Stanislav Govorukha and Lars Abrahamsson delivering sparse, piercing melodies that first build up muscle, hammering home each riff, and then steam, gradually ramping up the tempo to a furious mini-climax. The insanity comes with the song’s constant application and release of tension, where glimmers of silence and respite repeatedly make way for another lumbering slab of death-dealing doom.
‘Axis Despair’ takes a few cues from the greats, its crawling drone and bilious, screeching vocals a worthy attempt at replicating the existential misery of Khanate. Rather than stretch that sense of hopeless dread out across its mammoth length, it instead painstakingly crafts a twisting labyrinth of doom. Turn one corner and you’re hit with chugging brutality, a few turns later and the riffs tower over the horizon like eldritch monoliths. How these pieces slot together have an almost beautiful intricacy but what Suffer Yourself deliver remains resolutely ugly, an unflinching and often punishing exploration of death and doom as it exists at the outer fringes.
Fulfilling its role as the shortest ‘proper’ track on the record, ‘Axis Pain’ is the most straightforward and cutting offering. It’s memorable and exquisitely paced, clearly delineating the stretches of out-and-out death metal ferocity and the entrancing psych-doom downturns, but both parts are held together by a sense of otherness, a strange gravity that leaves the listener circling the vortex of gloom and agony, stranded amongst Govorukha’s guttural cries and basslines that rumble like tectonic plates.
While nothing about this record could be called one-dimensional, it’s one of Suffer Yourself’s most metal-forward releases in quite some time, using both its immense sonic weight and compositional density to smother the life out of the listener. Or at least that would be the case, were it not for ‘Axis Time’. Opening with Kateryna Osmuk’s chilling soprano, a spectral wail left ringing in a void of silence, abruptly dropping into percussive violence and then taking a circuitous trip through funhouse atmospherics and gothic doom, it’s the kind of unclassifiable weirdness that an album like this deserves to go out on.
In Axis Of Tortures, Suffer Yourself have created a vast and intricately paced album that puts equal weight on atmosphere and brutality, one that eschews genre tropes while providing everything that lovers of death metal, doom and outsider heaviness could ever ask for.