Suffer Yourself – Inner Sanctum (2014) – A Ukrainian death/doom project that originally started out as a one man band in Poland, Suffer Yourself considers their music similar to acts like Evoken, Catacombs, diSEmbowelment and Mistress Of The Dead. Not surprisingly, long and creepy songs fill the atmosphere of this record, backed by thundering thick vocals. The guitar melodies are as I’ve stated, quite eerie, replete with slow, but mountainous drums. Clean vocals are also used on the record, sounding ultimately breathtaking and evoking quite a lot of passion amidst the melancholic synths. Quite simply put, this is death/doom at its very apex. The title track alone is filled with monolithic majesty, something that I could wax poetic about for hours, but I’ll save you the time and leave it there. The next track is “Darkness Pt.1 12:29” which adds violins and piano to the already synthy gothic mix of doom and death. Yet this is continued with “Darkness Pt.2 14:12” which proves that these guys really love the darkness. This song is much different however, as it begins with an atmosphere that sounds like something out of a horror film before the guitars even come into the mix. These guys really know how to get under your skin, which makes for a frightening lesson in dread, despair and hopelessness. But that’s not without a few guitar theatrics here and there. I’m not sure if it’s Eugene Dmitrev or frontman Stanislav Govorukha, but one of these guys isn’t afraid to do a little bit of completely out of element guitar fiddling. A fearsome vocal shriek also comes into play on the track as the drums get to kicking up and the whole thing takes a massive turn from the slow nature that usually pervades this kind of music. But bringing some true death metal tendencies is nothing that I will shun and it wakes the listener up in a ferocious manner. “Winter Evening (Soir d’hiver) 9:55” comes next with its use of icy keyboards and Paradise Lost influenced melodies. We certainly won’t dismiss either. Whoever these guys are, they certainly know their doom and they recognize its influences. I’m actually really impressed with this disc and it’s not even over yet. There’s just one more track that remains on the album and it contains Greg Chandler of Evoken and Lychgate, who also mixed the album. So wasn’t that fucking awesome of him? Anyway, the track I’m referring to is “Eternity (L’Eternite) 10:20” which does sound rather more menacing with Greg’s unfriendly backing vocal, yet it also employs a section of groove right when we need it most. Powerful melodies pervade throughout the track, making for a wonderful closing section to the piece as a whole.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Suffer Yourself is one of the best doom/death bands I’ve ever heard. These guys capture the spirit of morose terror that I’ve always loved about the genre. They’re able to utilize each and every instrument to its full potential, including the vocal element which shines in both the brooding gravel department and the melancholic clean department. This is the very expression of the sub-genre of death/doom, presented in its most epic construct. The very fact that these gentlemen don’t shy away from the element of death metal like heavyweights November’s Doom, shows me that there’s something noteworthy to be had here. This is definitely the death/doom record of the year thus far for me, and I highly recommend getting your hands on it.