It’s no surprise that on LP number four, Perth metallers Make Them Suffer seem bound and determined to shed those pesky genre tags and put stylistic pigeonholes to bed. Well, a ‘dirt nap,’ that is—their newest record is called How To Survive a Funeral for a reason, folks. This all-encompassing approach becomes apparent when listening to the record’s triumvirate of pre-release singles.
“Drown With Me” erupts with guitarist Nick McLernon’s down-tuned chugs and ungodly, guttural screams from indomitable frontman Sean Harmanis, before keyboardist/backing vocalist Booka Nile lifts the chorus with angelic cleans and gentle, piano melodies. By contrast, with an overly simplistic nu-metal stomp riff in the verses and an awkward, pitch-screamed chorus, “Soul Decay” is the weakest of the trio.
Things improve on “Erase Me,” which harkens back to the group’s earlier albums, pairing harmonized leads with bassist Jaya Jeffery’s murky bottom-end and drummer Jordan Mather’s frantic blast beats. Nile’s chorus melody here is also eerily reminiscent of the Alicia Keys hook in Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” (once you hear it, it’s hard to ‘unhear’ it); however, Harmanis’ raw, confessional lyrics in the verses and bridge more than make up for a minor case of déjà vu.
On the rest of How To Survive a Funeral, Make Them Suffer take a whirlwind approach to contemporary metal through sonic exploration. “Falling Ashes” feels like straight-up Neverbloom nostalgia, with a genuinely monstrous vocal performance from Harmanis that tastefully accentuates Jeffery and Mather’s full-blown, rhythmic assault. While the intro scream of “I can’t breathe!” on “Bones” is sadly prescient of current events; the track itself is a total instrumental blitzkrieg, making the most of the group’s penchant for urgent and energetic delivery.
Elsewhere, stand-out “Fake Your Own Death” might just be the most massive track Make Them Suffer have ever put together, with a heavy dose of pinch harmonics, pneumatic breakdowns, and McLernon’s thick, staccato riffage. Combining stadium rock riffs with an inventive hook from Nile, the album’s title track makes for a compelling synthesis of outsider influences.
However, things take a turn for the egregiously uncanny once again on “The Attendant,” which has the unfortunate position of sounding like a beat-for-beat rip-off of Loathe’s “Is It Really You?” from this year’s excellent I Let It In and It Took Everything. It’s all there—right down to the intro atmospherics, pre-chorus transitions, and blatant Deftones worship—and it might end up being a little too on-the-nose for some.
With forays into deathcore, melodic metal, and metalcore scattered throughout their back catalogue, the Australian quintet have settled for a diverse range of sounds and moods this time around on How To Survive a Funeral, which is sure to appease long-time fans and will hopefully prick the ears of curious newcomers.
Purchase How To Survive a Funeral here.