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Metal - Released November 23, 2020 | Profound Lore

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Metal - Released January 7, 2021 | Profound Lore

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Metal - Released February 19, 2021 | Profound Lore

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The words "blackened death metal" have become watered down over the last decade of ceaseless fusions between the two styles, but Suffering Hour are here to reclaim its purest form. The Minnesota band's sophomore album, The Cyclic Reckoning, is an exceptional showcase of death metal mastery with black metal atmospheres. The trio began as a progressive thrash band in the early 2010s (yes, their name is an homage to the 1988 debut by prog-thrash titans Anacrusis), but their uniformly well-regarded 2017 debut, In Passing Ascension, represented a shift into spindly death metal riffage that was doused in all the pain and agony of Darkthrone and Bathony. After an 18-minute single in 2019, the group signed to Ontario tastemakers Profound Lore and have unleashed a five-song effort entirely produced, mixed, and mastered by the band themselves. Don't be fooled, this is no shabby home-cooking, but the product of a group with an extremely cohesive and fully-realized vision. They drop a bit of the technicality here for more atmosphere, but the savory death metal riffage on the barrelling "Obscuration" and the convulsing "Strongholds of Awakening" is some of the best you'll hear from a band that rocks corpse paint and studded armbands. Rather than losing themselves in mucky clouds of black metal dissonance, which works for some bands but would be a letdown to hear from a group with Suffering Hour's gift for dazzling leadwork, they carefully insert tortured textures without overdoing it on the gloom—after all, this is blackened death, not deathened black. The shrieking string-bends that howl throughout "Transcending Antecedent Visions" are Slayer as hell, but the 16-minute closer, "The Foundations of Servitude," is where they really double-down on the stadium-sized heft. The filth-coated suite moves between ugly death metal, triumphant thrash gallops, chapel-sized black metal flourishes, and some skronky downward arpeggios that jerk the wheel into prog insanity before ending with a brilliantly catchy lead lick that could win over any Obituary diehard. It's nearly impossible to find a bad or even mediocre word about these guys anywhere on the internet, and The Cyclic Reckoning maintains that spotless record. © Eli Enis/Qobuz