Chelsea Grin – Suffer In Hell (Album Review)

Chelsea Grin – Suffer In Hell (Album Review)

Amid today’s immediate gratification culture, four years seems like a lifetime to wait. Still, there are still plenty of things worth that wait. New music from Chelsea Grin, to name but one example. Thankfully, the eve of their most ambitious project to date is nigh: Suffer In Hell is set to arrive on Friday, November 11, 2022, thanks to the band’s new home, OneRPM.

Torturous incisions and bloody screams that rend the flesh. Deathcore’s Chelsea Grin, named for the medieval torture technique, was formed in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2007. A name change was quick to follow, but it took some time for the proper characters to be cast. In fact, as it stands now, the quartet contains none of its founding musicians, and Bassist David Flinn is the only current member to have performed on 2010’s full-length debut, Desolation of Eden.

Of course, this has not stopped their evolution. And as the individual pieces of Chelsea Grin slowly fell into place, an additional three albums, including 2016’s Self Inflicted, were written and recorded. Upon settling into their current configuration and releasing 2018’s Eternal Nightmare, the quartet would embark on stints on Warped Tour and Knotfest Meets Forcefest, along with touring the globe alongside the likes of Dying Fetus, Whitechapel, Carnifex, and more.

For the past year and change, as well as for their sixth full-length, Chelsea Grin has maintained a three-man core: Vocalist Tom Barber, Guitarist Stephen Rutishauser, and Bassist David Flinn. With Drummer/Vocalist Pablo Viveros on an indefinite hiatus, the talented Nathan Pearson (of Glass Hands) has stepped in on drums. Good thing, too, as the quartet is ready to unleash the eight-track Suffer In Hell, the first half of a double album that also contains Suffer In Heaven, due to be released on March 17, 2023, through OneRPM.

An ambitious undertaking, Suffer In Hell offers an intriguing journey that is meant to be defined by each individual listener, not by an overarching narrative or fantastical concept. Darkness and self-doubt, the timeless struggle of good versus evil, it’s all here. At times incendiary, in other moments cinematic, it is a collection that tackles universal themes via Chelsea Grin’s signature blend of intricate guitar work and pummeling bass and blast beats, all situated alongside Barber’s feral vocal displays. Spoiler alert: The collection marks a new era for the band!

As Suffer In Hell begins, sci-fi vibes are delivered by the synths that delicately lead us into the first track, “Origin of Sin,” the album’s lead single/video. A massive affair that borrows its melody from subtle orchestration, it seemingly explores mankind’s search for truth throughout a deceptive and empty historical existence. With Barber doing his best gremlin impersonation as Flinn’s thick, prominent bass lines anchor the experience, they culminate in the song/album’s most important message: Think or die.

Doom pervades the core of “Forever Bloom,” which features guest vocals from the late Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder, before some of their filthiest instrumentation delivers us a “Deathbed Companion.” An overstimulating, venomous dirge it sets the stage for “Crystal Casket,” where an initial stomp gives way to Rutishauser’s guitar flourishes backed by hammering blast beats and one of Barber’s vilest vocal performances.

Meanwhile, the cacophonous layers of “Floodlungs” cannot hide the ebb and flow of a musical core that is born of Alternative Rock, more Nirvana than Carnifex. Playing with extremes, a delicacy dances into the pummeling “Mourning Hymn,” which, much like “Floodlungs,” ventures outside of the band’s normal lines to create an epic cinematic composition. For this, the two tracks sit as stand-outs in the collection. Yet, while it might not, technically speaking, be the most impressive offering, there’s just something seductive about the ferocity of “The Isnis.” Singular and entire, born of chaos, the second single/video encapsulates the oxymoronic nature of our existence.

The titular “Suffer in Hell, Suffer in Heaven” serves as the midway point of the double album; the closer of Hell, and an introduction to Heaven. More a placeholder than anything, it paints a hellacious atmosphere rather than offering thought-provoking lyrics or titillating sonics; making the first album’s conclusion a bit underwhelming without its accompanying half.

This is the crux of Suffer In Hell. At eight songs that clock in at under 30 minutes, it feels unfinished. Sure, these are quality tracks that bring something exciting to the band’s oeuvre of material, but without the second half of the record, this is an aborted journey that hangs in the balance until March 2023. It’s a risky bid on the band’s part: to taut a double album that really amounts to one oversized LP, and its two halves arrive four months apart. Ultimately, and thankfully, Suffer In Hell offers enough glimpses into a brilliant future that hope springs eternal. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Chelsea Grin’s long-awaited latest 4.5 out of 5 stars.


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Jeannie Blue
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Jeannie likes to joke that she is little, yellow, blue, and different. She seemingly popped out of her mother's womb with a pen in her hand and has been writing ever since. Many moons ago - in what feels like a separate lifetime - Jean was co-editor of an online music magazine that afforded her great opportunities to interview and photograph some of her favorite bands/musicians: Tommy Lee, Good Charlotte, Warrant, Bring Me The Horizon, My Chemical Romance, Sevendust, New Found Glory, Deftones, Poison, VH-1 "Band On the Run" Flickerstick, an endless list of unsigned locals, and so many others. These days, she can usually be found hiking aimlessly through the woods in her favorite Technicolor sneakers with a Nikon in hand and her rescue dog, Molly, who is a bit hare-brained.

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