Suffering Souls
An Iconic Taste of Demise

Thanks to this YouTube group, I spent much of 2023 discovering newer symphonic black metal, or at least releases in the genre that aren’t from the golden age, or releases that somehow I completely missed from 2010 on.

I found superb bands like Spain’s Ensom, Canada’s Obscuris Romancia, Russia’s Skylord, Cuba’s Mephisto, Finland’s Shade Empire, and many others. One that really stood out was Germany’s one-man project Suffering Souls, helmed by Lord Esgaroth (of course!). I heard 2019s In Synergy Obscene and instantly purchased it, then out of the blue, I got a promo for a brand new album.

I’ll steer you in the right direction immediately, so you can continue reading or not; this is for fans of mid-era Dimmu Borgir (Spiritual Black Dimensions, Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia and Death Cult Armageddon, and some Abrahadabra). It is that highly polished, highly orchestrated, bombastic,theatrical, gothic and at times slightly industrialized form of Symphonic black metal, that at the time, one could argue was the peak of the genre, though somewhat divisive among black metal purists.

Basically, if you view the Dimmu Borgir song “Kings of Carnival Creation” as peak Dimmu or simply a great symphonic black metal song, then you will love what Suffering Souls is doing here. The song below “From Hubris to Demise” is a pretty good guide as to the rest of the album’s excellent delivery of the style.

 

After the intro the first real track “Soul Devourer” bursts out of the gate with a pretty ferocious gait and signals Lord Esgaroth’s expert grasp of the style and the clear influences at play here. The song’s more marching, mid-paced last third is exceptionally well done.

The grandiose “From Hubris to Demise”, has some female vocals as does the much more controlled standout “In The Order of Doom”, and both imbue shades of Agnete Kjølsrud from Abrahadabra‘s “Gateways”, as do some other short female injections is “Dalor Matris” and “Under my Skin”.

“A Touch of Evil Kindness” and moodier “Under My Skin” could have come from any of the Dimmu albums mentioned above, though the clean male vocals are definitely not ICS Vortex quality. The sensual “My Whore” is one of the album standouts, before the album starts to wrap up.

However, the tail end of the album is a bit of a letdown with its two long instrumental numbers; “Of Clarity and Hysteria” and “Cruelty in Love and Fear”. One was probably enough (“Of Clarity and Hysteria” feels like an album-closing instrumental, while the 8-minute “Cruelty in Love and Fear” is purely orchestral, and should have been a mid-album song in my humble opinion). Not bad songs per se, just an odd way to end an otherwise superb album that is a pretty much perfect example of the chosen style and genre.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
June 11th, 2024

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