-- A Sweet Suffering --
|Christophe Van Achter
Review written by Stijn “Metal Shredder” Daneels.
[METAL SHREDDER REPORTING]
I got to know A Sweet Suffering thanks to their bassist Sven, who I had already known from his time as bassist for the gothic rock band October Changes. After his departure from OC, he was quick to inform he found a new band to perform in, something very different from the dreamy/nightmarish gothic stuff he played with OC. As part of A Sweet Suffering, he and his new band colleagues put together an EP called Carn(IV)al for us all to check out and for me personally, to shred!
Carn(IV)al is the first EP from the newly formed Belgian thrash/death metal act A Sweet Suffering, it’s an independent release and consists of 4 tracks.
The EP begins with “The Outback Curse,” a track that begins with the howling sound of a didgeridoo backed by the sounds of cricket, thunder and rainfall that eventually transitions towards a doomy guitar riff and finally the band comes in full force and things speed up considerably with an enjoyable marching beat. Too bad the aforementioned intro is too long for me, (I’d would’ve cut it down to 30 seconds rather than a full minute).
Next up is “100 Maniacs,” a song that once again begins with a dreary doom metal inspired riff (the faint screams in the background to add a nice, morbid detail to it) and then moves on to a classic thrash metal barrage for the rest of the track. Then comes the song “Dogma,” and after an ambient intro that gradually gets joined by galloping drums it ventures into another thrasher, but this one’s much more memorable. The music feels catchy, very rhythmic and the high bass-level adds a good thickness to this tune.
We reach the end of this “Carn(IV)al” EP with the song “Mountain Breed,” opening with crispy bass but then simply jamming some pretty repetitive riffs for the rest of its 5-minute runtime. It feels like it builds to something but eventually it leads to nothing at all.
If you start listening to A Sweet Suffering’s “Carn(IV)al” EP you’ll notice one thing immediately, the very poor production. The instruments sound very muffled, the vocals sound too prominently compared to the other parts of the music and it all feels very shallow and chaotic. I would even call it a cacophony and it makes listening to this EP not very enjoyable.
I talked to Sven about this and apparently their original studio recordings were stolen by someone involved within the EP’s production which resulted in him and the rest of the band trying to put together whatever they could salvage and put it on record. Now, on the one hand I admire their courage to still come out with some material even if in this poor state but on the other hand, you can only make one first impression and although I’m always willing to forgive a poor production for valid reasons like this one, I’m not sure whether other reviewers or critics will be just as forgiving.
That being said however, I do feel there’s something good to be found in A Sweet Suffering but I also have some issues with the songwriting as well. For one, most of the tracks (except for the 4th) start off with an opening sample or guitar riff that just overstays its welcome and the tracks themselves feel quite repetitive at certain times (especially “Mountain Breed” suffers from overt repetition).
But there are also some good things to be found here and I’ve got several suggestions to help A Sweet Suffering augment their material. The song “Dogma” shows that A Sweet Suffering can make some catchy and thick beats and while the didgeridoo opening of “The Outback Curse” was too long, it was pretty original, nonetheless. I also think that with two guitarists and a bassist that has already proven his worth in the past, A Sweet Suffering should be able to pull of some melodic riffs, guitar and even bass solos and weave it all together with growling vocals and headbanging rhythms. They just have to cut off the unnecessary opening filler and make songs tighter and more unpredictable. With this feedback, I believe A Sweet Suffering can bring their stuff to a higher level.
The cover art for A Sweet Suffering’s “Carni(IV)al” features a bloodied pighead wrapped in barbed wire and pierced by multiple spikes and paperclips (including one through the snout as if it’s a nose piercing). The whole image sure is attention-grabbing because of its gory detail and it reminds me of the Saw horror movie series, but I do like the way the EP’s title is written with the IV in “Carn(IV)al” referring to the number of tracks on this EP.
[SHARPEST SHREDS & BLUNTEST BLADES]
For me, the song “Dogma” takes the cake as the best song of A Sweet Suffering’s current material. Its intro isn’t as drawn-out (but still a little bit too long for me) and once the track starts for real its main riff was quite catchy and energetic and it made me headbang spontaneously. The runner-up is “The Outback Curse,” nice to use a didgeridoo as an intro instrument and aside from that the song itself has a good sense of rhythm to it.
The weakest track for me is “Mountain Breed,” although it opens with a nice and crispy bass intro it suffers from heavy repetition. In fact, I feel like this song had one section completely cut out and replaced by an earlier part of this song. Perhaps live on stage we’ll be able to see how this song is actually supposed to be like. We’ll see.
6 didgeridoos out of 10 (this score doesn’t take the mixing into account, otherwise the score would’ve been at least 2 points lower). Underneath the butchered production, overly lengthy song openings and occasional repetitiveness, I did feel some good things within A Sweet Suffering’s first EP. They attempt to combine thrash, death and doom together and when the band hit their mark, they offer some catchy, rhythmic beats. There’s still a lot of work for the band to do, but I’ll support them either way.