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VITRIOL Suffer & Become

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Friday, January 26, 2024 @ 9:37 AM


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VITRIOL
Suffer & Become

Century Media Records




I recall being rather flattened by To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice, the 2019 debut full-length from Portland anti-hipsters VITRIOL. It was death metal at its ugliest and most ferocious, a concoction that took influences from the likes of NILE, MORBID ANGEL, HATE ETERNAL and ORIGIN, peppered them with Pacific Northwestern nihilism and delivered it with a vehemence that was downright awe-inspiring, if a bit terrifying.

Four years, a pandemic and some lineup churn hasn't mellowed the band - or, more specifically,mainstay guitarist Kyle Rasmussen and bassist Adam Roethlisberger, who also share vocal duties - in the slightest. Suffer & Become is every bit as furious, violent and calamitous as Cowardice, if a bit more "mature" - or at least more fully formed.

Though it might not have the element of surprise that its predecessor enjoyed, Suffer & Become will nevertheless make you sit up and take notice, given its almost unabated relentlessness. From top to bottom, the album is tumult of careening riffs, epileptic lead work, clattering drums salvos from Matt Kilner who plays like he has an extra set of arms and legs, and Rasmussen and Roethlisberger's bellow/growl/scream tag-team vocalizing.

It is intensity in extremis, with the minimal restraint coming mostly assongs like "Nursing From The Mother Wound" or "The Isolating Lie of Learning Another" take a few moments to uncoil. But uncoil they will - and how- yet with a touch of panache.

The album actually opens on an oddly psychedelic note, with Rasmussen's sparse twang mimicking a steelguitar/thereminas it introduces "Shame And Its Afterbirth", but things then take off like an F-16 in a hail of blackened death metal fury. And there is a more pronounced blackened feelthan on Cowardice, which was pretty much straight-up, full-on death metal.

With blazing trem guitars and blast beats aplenty, and roaring vocals from Rasmussen and/or Roethlisberger, VIRTIOL recalls BEHEMOTH from its Zos Kia Cultus through Evangelion period throughout Suffer & Become. That blackness is accentuated by an intermittent subtle wash of synths that provide a hint of symphonic grandiosity and "fullness", without going full FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE.

The lone exception is the instrumental "Survival's Careening Inertia" at the album's midpoint with its opulent start and Spanish guitar foray, though it too takes a brutal turn. The surprisingly melodic finale to "Nursing From The Mother Wound" and surging grooves on "The Isolating Lie of Learning Another" and "I Am Every Enemy" do their part to lend a bit of variety/contrast - or at least bring a modicum of order to the chaos.

Working with extreme metal studio vet Dave Otero helps as well. Otero's mix provides clarity and a sense of grace to Rasmussen's brash production, while maintaining its brutality and menace, something he's managed before withthe challenging sounds of CATTLE DECAPITATION, ALLEGAEON, ARCHSPIRE, etc. So good move bringing him onboard.

VITRIOL set the bar pretty high with Cowardice, yet the band manages to raise it with Suffer & Become. Its sprinkling of additional flair and greater attention to detail in the presentation might seem like smallish steps, but they do make a difference. With ex-ATHEIST guitarist Daniel Martinez, who AT THE GATES hired on for a tour here in 2022, now rounding out the ranks, VITRIOL has a formidable lineup to bring it all home in a live environment, which should be something to see. Meantime, Suffer & Become is definitely something to hear.

4.5 Out Of 5.0


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