Ov Sulfur
The Burden of Faith

One could argue, that along with Distant’s Heritage, To the Grave‘s Director’s Cuts, Chelsea Grin‘s double album, and Suicide Silence’s newest, the debut from Ov Sulfur is up there as one of 2023’s early high-profile deathcore releases.

Featuring former Suffokate vocalist Ricky Hoover (who has beefed up considerably in the 9 years since his Suffokate days), a slew of singles have been released since the band formed, and now on Century Media with Distant and Lorna Shore, expectations are high.

I witnessed Ov Sulfur open for Lorna Shore and Angelmaker (whose Johnny Ciardullo provides the orchestration here), back in 2022, and my feeling about the band was pretty ambivalent in a live setting; some great vocals from Hoover, some good breakdowns and orchestration, but overall a bit underwhelming and the clean vocals (from guitarist Chase Wilson) just didn’t do anything for me. And ironically, that’s how I feel about the band’s debut album as well.

Certainly, one of the bands that rose up from the Lorna Shore explosion in 2021/2022, Ov Sulfur falls into the suddenly hugely popular blackened/ symphonic deathcore category and makes no bones about it. And at their heaviest, they certainly match up to their clear peers with some really nice grandiose orchestration backing some huge deathcore, but at times, generally in the clean choruses, things fall a bit flat and they come across more like  As I Lay Dying or Rise Records band.

The songs all contain a little of both in various quantities, with each song pretty much having some pretty impressive, heavily orchestrated breakdowns and some sort of clean chorus/segue. The songs where it works a little better are the likes of opener “Stained In Rot”, “Earthen”, ( one song with cleans that holds up well), personal favorites “Unraveling” (which has no clean vocals…), and “The Burden Ov Faith” where the brutal elements are a little more of the focus. But on songs like “Befouler”, “Death ov Circumstance”, “A Path of Salvation” (an interlude of sorts), “I, Apostate” and “Wide Open”, I’m less enamored.

As is the norm there are plenty of guests here from Slaughter to Prevail‘s Alex Terrible, Left to Suffer‘s Taylor Barber, Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage, Light the Torch) and Kyle Medina of Bodysnatcher as well as former Cradle of Filth-er Linsey Schoolcraft. The latter of which is the standout as Schoolcraft adds her croons to the standout title track with good effect.

When all is said and done, Ov Sulfur has all the right ingredients to be successful and a unit mover for Century Media, especially after the success of Lorna Shore (which they are clearly relying on), and with the added more commercial vocals. But personally, I enjoyed last year’s albums from the likes of Downfall of Mankind, Bonemaker, A Wake on Providence (whose clean vocals just hit better), and Synestia more.

Now, let’s see what When Plagues Collide and Mental Cruelty deliver with the genre’s next big release later this year.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 27th, 2023

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