No artist wants to be pigeon-holed into a sound and forced to rein in their creativity to meet the expectations of their audience; however, drastically changing one’s approach risks alienating a fan base. Australian outfit Make Them Suffer have found their balance between the two choices by gradually changing their sonic identity from their first EP to their new album, Worlds Apart. They rose to prominence on a blackened/symphonic deathcore direction with the release of the Lord of Woe EP and their début LP Neverbloom. With a transition started on 2015’s Old Souls and continuing on their coming third album (out July 28), Make Them Suffer have left behind their symphonic deathcore identity for a more ambient and groove-oriented metalcore sound.
The record opens on the delay-heavy guitar lines of “The First Movement”. The track morphs into a mid-tempo verse with synth ornamentation and screams from frontman Sean Harmanis. It contains the strongest chorus of the ten on Worlds Apart, with key player/vocalist Louisa Burton (who has since left the band) weaving a catchy yet otherworldly vocal line over the music. This is an effective opener, introducing the soft, uplifting synths, slow-to-mid-tempo riffs and spacey choruses that fill the majority of Worlds Apart’s forty-one minutes.
It becomes quickly apparent that the record’s strongest tracks are stacked into the first half of the album. Single “Uncharted” immediately follows “The First Movement” with a deceptively stirring piano line that is oddly reminiscent of some 90’s pop music. This motif is then contrasted with a massive riff that meshes interestingly with the piano theme. We are once again led through the screamed verse/celestial chorus format that pervades Worlds Apart, but with some more inventive guitar work than featured on the previous track. “Vortex (Interdimensional Spiral Hindering Inexplicable Euphoria)” ups the intensity with a heavy drum intro and a Volumes-meets-Stray From The Path harmonic-heavy groove that is preceded by a staccato guitar/scream attack. Though the clean vocal and key approach has become somewhat predictable by this point, it is still a welcome contrast to the nu-metal/metalcore swagger of the song.
“Fireworks”, the first single for Worlds Apart and the mid-way point for the album, lurches forward with a slow, pounding intro, an expected verse and a chorus that pits Harmanis screams about burning something against Burton’s subtle vocalizations. It is at this point that the record falls into expected territory, with the aforementioned harmonic-centered riffs and saccharine vocals repeating in various measure for much of the album’s remainder. “Save Yourself” closes the album with probably the most vulnerable cut here, differentiated from the rest of the album by Harmanis’ spoken word confessions that start at about 2:45 into the song and finish the record.
Worlds Apart starts with some solid ideas and songs, but quickly fall into repetitions that rapidly decline in enjoyment with each use. The occasional upbeat electronic interlude and Burton’s ethereal vocals are unique enough for the genre, but do not regularly provide the effective hooks that these songs desperately need. There are decent riffs and some heavy, mosh-worthy grooves throughout the record, but they are done with somewhat dragging tempos and distracting repetition. I am not resistant to a group changing their sound, but Make Them Suffer have left behind an identity that was distinct and confident for one that feels tepid and tentative.
Notable Tracks: “Uncharted”; “Vortex (Interdimensional Spiral Hindering Inexplicable Euphoria)”
FFO: Volumes, Stray From The Path