Nearly every single person who has listened to Vitriol's Suffer & Become has come together in agreement on one thing: There is never a dull moment within this unbridled, merciless blitzkrieg of an album. While many fans of this record praise it for its intensity and technical expertise, something that is undeniable even within hearing the first couple of minutes, Suffer & Become is much more than just 47 minutes of myriad notes and blistering tempos. Certain climactic points within the album had me visibly laughing out loud from the sheer vehement energy blasting out of my speakers. Vitriol's modus operandi more than lives up to their name, so when they decide to push their already-extreme boundaries even further, what ends up getting created becomes anomalous in every respect.
Much has already been said on the surface, by fans and reviewers alike, regarding the ferocity throughout Suffer & Become. Unlike a lot of extreme metal albums in this particular sub-genre, there is an element of distinguishable variety that keeps the more overwhelming and explosive sections in check. Part of the reason why bands like Vitriol usually remain in the more niche section of metal is because of an inherent lack of dynamic and digestibility within their songs compared to other, more palatable sub-genres within the overarching genre of metal which is, in and of itself, intense by most standards. While much of Suffer & Become is comprised of their signature blending of complicated sounds that can be difficult to follow at times, I found that every element was mostly discernable and perceptible. For this to be the case, however, did require a level of devoted, active listening at times due to what would likely be otherwise glossed over. In other words, each song is layered in such a way that significant contributing components that enhance and supplement the overall body of music might be drowned out (either due to the way it was mixed, written, or both) if listeners don't properly immerse themselves while listening.
Some music can be adequately consumed via simply hearing rather than actively and intently listening (i.e. pop music). Conversely, music that is as involved as technical death metal may not always be worth the investment in the end due to how much of it is driven by quantity (in terms of the number of different sounds) rather than quality (of those sounds and how they're crafted/blended). Highly technical music, specifically "tech death", tends to be very hit or miss as a result of this, and this problem is not unique to that sub-genre. With all of that being said, I want to convey how much this does not apply to Suffer & Become. Upon the first listen, it can be difficult for even the most seasoned music critic to truly complete a thorough analysis of even just one individual song on this record, let alone ten of the same caliber. This is the very nature of Vitriol and is something I did not appreciate until spending ample time with this album. Despite all of that, I want to reiterate that casual metal fans shouldn't be intimidated by this LP for reasons that I believe are the very reasons why Vitriol has been suddenly gaining so much newfound popularity and traction recently.
As previously mentioned, Suffer & Become is more than just the proverbial "onslaught", a descriptor that I am seeing used in a very reductionist, one-dimensional way to encapsulate this production overall that doesn't nearly do it justice. There are certainly sections where that notion is the primary focus, sections that one might argue would benefit from a "change of scenery" of sorts in regard to the rest of the song's surrounding context. However, the vast majority of the writing is done so with far more purpose and nuance outside of simply being fast and aggressive. It is in this way that I believe that Vitriol has broken new ground and will be able to appeal to a much wider audience than ever before, especially if they structure their writing process around this kind of progressive mentality without sacrificing what makes them...Vitriol. Few bands can successfully master the hybridity of retaining the acclaimed traits that have already set them apart from the competition as well as evolving/developing the elements that can be replaced or improved so as to fully actualize their sound to its fullest potential. Suffer & Become is not only an immense leap in that direction for this band but also serves as a monument within their discography for all the things it does best. I predict that Vitriol will never again put out an album quite like this one as they continue to move in the direction that they have been, allowing Suffer & Become to be a unique stamp in their collection.
There also doesn't seem to be one singular aspect of their outfit that was lacking in either musicianship or execution on this record. As a drummer myself, I was and still am beside myself while listening to these songs, frequently commenting how certain parts "don't even sound physically playable", half-convinced that some supreme Artificial Intelligence wrote and played them instead of the demigod that is their drummer, Matt Kilner. The guitar work is equally as mind-blowing across the many riffs and solos alike, written with a deeper understanding of how to savagely wield the power at their fingertips. The tonality and melodiousness are fit to command legions, providing a consistent underlying timbre that demands, not asks, for your attention. The finesse is palpable throughout the much-needed and contrastingly dynamic sections of reprieve throughout the album, showcasing that the guitarists of Vitriol are as capable of setting the scene as they are at ruling it. The instrumentation culminates with a Hadean vocal performance fit for an archnemesis seated at the spire overlooking the volcanic, Mephistophelian terrain below. All of this together serves as the iconic and inescapable weapon that Vitriol wields to teach listeners what it means to Suffer & Become.
FFO: Cattle Decapitation, Origin, Cryptopsy, Aborted