Suffering Hour – The Cyclic Reckoning

If one is looking for esoteric sounding black metal mixed with death metal in the vein of Deathspell Omega, Ulcerate, or even Leviathan, then Minnesota based Suffering Hour is certainly worth checking out. Their second full length, “The Cyclic Reckoning,” takes a heavy dose of atmospheric black metal drenched in guitar distortion, grim overtones of entombed drums, and cavernous death metal vocals for a very twisted and enjoyable listen. There are only five tracks on this album, but the band pushes their limits here compared to their debut, and it is by far no way a sophomore slump. There is the out of control warbling on ‘Strongholds of Awakening’ which has that dissonant tone DsO fans will love, and the faded rawness of the vocals will appeal to fans of earlier Ulcerate work, though Suffering Hour is not as technical as they are. While the riffs are a little repetitive, they certainly are catchy, mixing in tremolo picking here and there, but a strong display of how raw black metal and death metal can merge together in the right way.

Other tracks like ‘Transcending Antecedent Visions’ are less all over the place and a little more straightforward, but still have that chilling atmosphere and focus on slower, darker passages that fans of Leviathan tend to be drawn to. ‘Abrasive Black Dust’ is a great addition of doom elements, focusing less on the guitar tone and letting the drums shine through with their thunderous tones. It is a slower black metal track but thought provoking and more in the vein of DsO esoteric works; nonetheless grim. For those who like their metal fast and pummeling, ‘Obscuration’ will be the perfect choice with its almost non stop drumming and haunting riffs, even though many of them sound like the ones used already on tracks like ‘Strongholds…’

Then there is the closing ‘The Foundations Of Servitude.’ On earlier works, Suffering Hour pushed time limits a little bit, but this time they really stretch into epic black metal territory. Clocking around 16 minutes it takes a lot to stomach the whole thing and patience, like any good grandiose doom track, but it is well worth it. Here we see Suffering Hour take the best of Leviathan and DsO together and drag it out big time, focusing heavily on the balance between faster and slower parts. Sadly while the bass is a bit lost in this compared to a track like ‘Transcending…’ the vocals tend to be less echoing and in turn rawer, more tortured, and a bit more of that blackened death hybrid versus just a muffled growl. But it is the middle of the track with its rather black n roll touches that really are intriguing; like a good Dark Fortress track all focus is on the churn of the riffs versus the vocals, bass or drum, but there really is something here to head bang to.

This final track alone is probably worth the price of admission for “The Cyclic Reckoning,” It epitomizes everything atmospheric black metal is about, and for those who find the shrieking a bit annoying, the darker vocals are a great substitute to grind through. Listeners have a fun, dark journey ahead of them that takes the coldness of the genre and injects a bit of life into it without murdering to ‘kvlt’ tones with too much wonderous atmosphere.

4.5 / 5 STARS

Reviewer: Colin McNamara

Apr 21, 2021

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Suffering Hour – The Cyclic Reckoning

review Suffering Hour - The Cyclic Reckoning

1. Strongholds Of Awakening
2. Transcending Antecedent Visions
3. The Abrasive Black Dust Part II
4. Obscuration
5. The Foundations Of Servitude


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