Interview – Suffering Hour: ”I want to experiment more and more with new releases”

Three guitars, three amps, six guitar tracks, and an insane amount of pedals.

Sometimes a uniqe band shows up, with a unique sound of their own and unique ideas for how to write music. Right now, three piece band Suffering Hour is that band. The blackend death metal group from the US delivered one of the best albums of 2021, I cannot stop listening to it. Bara Metal spoke to guitarist Josh, or YhA as he is also known by.

You can follow Suffering Hour here. You can follow Bara Metal here.

I think you have outmatched yourself by far on The Cyclic Reckoning. It is perfection. Would you agree?

– It’s not for me to say really. We put out everything we do feeling firm about it and we don’t call anything done until said release is perfect in our eyes, so whether or not it’s “perfect” in regards to objective quality is up to the listener. 

– It definitely was the most collaborative release we have done, and because of that it felt a lot more like we were making an album that was a group effort instead of just me writing something and the other guys writing lyrics and playing close to the parts I had laid out. In that regard I’d say this album felt the best to put together out of what we’ve done up until now.

Technically, how many guitars have you used on this album? How many pedals? How many channels?  

– Three guitars, three amps, six guitar tracks, and an insane amount of pedals. If I’m remembering right, every board I set up had 21 pedals on it, and for each pair of tracks the pedals weren’t the same. I wanted the guitars on this album to sound fucked up and dense, so I just kept tracking guitars it until it hit the spot the way I wanted.

That’s a lot of pedals! So, still about the recording. What is your opinion about amp simulators, such as Neural DSP? Or stomp box simulators and digital guitar fx?

– I’m for them. I don’t use them just because I have some great amps and a DI load box so I can run them directly into my computer, but amp, cab and pedal simulators are awesome, convenient ways to get great tone without having a bunch of gear sprawled everywhere. I feel the same way about Kempers and Axe-Fx and all that, they’re not true tube amps or whatever but they sound great, so hell yeah.

Playing live – will you manage to sound the same as on the album?

– Probably not. We don’t try to replicate the sound of our albums live anyways, so it’s not an issue.  I find it admirable when some bands replicate their album sound live, but I think it’s cool to go see a band you like and have their set be something you can’t get from turning an album on.

So, I know I’m a bit focused on the guitar playing here, I have to say that bass, drums and vocals are perfect together with the guitars – it is a masterpiece from all of you, from all aspects.

– Relayed this to the boys, they very much appreciate it!

Good. On Youtube, I found this great comment about your music:

I absolutely love this band! They get weirder with each record, don’t stick to the same formula, and pull off each idea absolutely perfect. There are loads of riffs that are outright making me laugh on this album (this is a good thing).”

…so, is that your intention – to make unexpected and twisted songs? 

– My intention’s always been to make what feels right in the moment. I don’t have a very solid trajectory of where our sound will go or for how twisted we are, I just feel out what I’ve been listening to and where I am mentally and let it dictate. 

– I used to have our entire discography roadmapped out for years into the future, but I realized over time it’s an exercise in futility to plan out where I’m at so far ahead. I do know I want to experiment more and more with new releases, but that just comes with the territory of being a songwriter and wanting to push oneself to be the best there can be. I don’t want to give away too much, but from how it’s going our upcoming record’s gonna be a weird one for sure.

And what is the best mood in order to write songs for Suffering Hour? Angry? Or down and depressed? Or just plain satisfied with life? 

– It’s a weird combination. Most of what I’ve written has come from going through shit, but at the same time I was very focused and enthusiastic about writing the process. It’s almost like I write best when I can use writing as a distraction from whatever hell is going on with other aspects of my life. It’s like making the best out of a bad situation and giving myself an escape.

How come you never recruit a second guitarist? Is it too complicated to teach anyone the riffings? Or would it adventure the friendship you have as a trio?

Definitely the latter. Suffering Hour’s been me, Dyl, and Jay for over ten years now, we’re practically brothers in regards to how tight we are. I bet people wouldn’t have much issue learning my riffs, we just don’t think adding a member would be a great idea. That and the one guitar thing has been working perfectly well for us, so no need to fix what isn’t broken.

On In Passing Ascension I think you experimented more with the vocals, but on The Cyclic Reckoning that is all gone. How come? 

– Honestly I think Dyl did a lot of vocal variety on this record, probably as much as there was on In Passing. To each their own though, music’s all up to interpretation and it would be hypocritical of me as a musician to tell someone how to listen to the music we put out. Maybe it just got lost in the more atmospheric sound our new record has versus how staccato and aggressive the first one was. Either way no hate here, I respect your opinion on that.

Speaking of the vocals – you are clearly a riff-driven and guitar-driven band, the vocals are more in the background, more support than in the front. What is your relationship towards vocals vs. guitar riffs? 

– Dyl definitely writes his lyrics in a way that drape over the riffs. Being a heavily guitar driven band, having super tight, in-your-face vocals would feel strange without a doubt. He does a perfect job at writing his lyrics and vocal phrases to fit into the right spots of the riffs I write and to breathe when the time calls for it. I give him full control over his vocal parts.

Abrasive Black Dust part II is my favourite song, for the moment. I notice you repeat the intro riff of The Abrasive Black Dust from your last album. Was that after you decided to call it part II, or… well, please, just tell us why there is a part II? What is the connection?

– Dyl just came up with the idea one day honestly, I wish there was more to it than that. I thought it was a great one, and it’s now become a trilogy that I’ll finish with a future release. I figured if it was going to be a part two to a part one, I might as well tie the pieces together by bringing the main mantra back into the new one.

Your EP Dwell, just one long song, and the song The Foundations of Servitude – what does a long song give you as a composer? And when you write them – are you ever thinking “is it too long? Is it treading water? Should we make this into two songs?”…? 

– Writing a long song is a real test of songwriting ability to me. So many bands these days write long songs that can drag by either going really slow or repeating riffs too often, and some just write structureless confusing jumbles that don’t hook people with anything memorable.

– I think writing a catchy, structured, and elegant long song is a real challenge for anybody. It’s also freeing too though because of what one can accomplish with that much time to fill. Structural and timing conventions can get tossed out the window and not feel ridiculous in doing so. So on one hand they’re a fantastic way to test my songwriting ability while perpetually giving me more freedom to do what I want.

Finally, is your name Suffering Hour just a cool blackend death metal-name, a tribute to Anacrusis, or a suitable name for what your music and lyrics are about? 

– All three I’d say. We were still a thrash band when we changed our name to Suffering Hour, and it worked well as a thrash name. I personally think it’s a good black death metal band name as well. Anacrusis was a huge influence on me when I was putting together our thrashier sound, and the influence carried over into our new sound as well. I think considering most of our lyrics are about mental illness and the like that Suffering Hour does fit into the theme of our lyrics well also.

You used to call yourself Compassion Dies. How come you did not stick to that?

– Easy enough answer, it just wasn’t a great name for what we were doing. The name Compassion Dies came about when the original other guitarist and I were making more somber influenced music, so it made sense in that context. Not so much for what we’re doing now.

Vill du läsa mer?

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