The name of the band pretty much says it all. I mean, just say that band name out loud- Chalice of Suffering- that name alone describes the brutality of this band. Featuring members of other groups such as We Are Legion and Mastiff (both local bands that I love both live and on recordings), I was super excited when I was asked to give ‘For You I Die’ a listen. Although not usually a fan of super sludgey doom metal, there’s something about Chalice of Suffering that has always gotten to me. There’s a sense of uniqueness that comes with this group and the feeling of anything goes. When I got the album in the mail and saw the eerie and sinister cover art of a woman’s soul being sucked out of her and into a skull (okay, that’s just my interpretation) I was instantly intrigued and couldn’t wait to give it a listen.
The album starts off with a very doom metal sound. With breaks in the music that act as a moment for you to gather your thoughts before the music really kicks in. The guitars trudge through the mud as drummer Aaron Lanik pulls the song along as he slams the sticks against the cymbals and toms. When John McGovern’s vocals kick in, there’s a sinister feeling that comes in. I’m sure that when my parents referred to my music as ‘devil worshiping music’ they had something like this in mind. Although the opening track is ten minutes long, there are so many elements to notice throughout it and at no point does it become boring. With the haunting vocals over the dark instrumentation, there’s an element of intrigue that comes with it. The lines of lyrics are spread out through the track (and the rest of the album) but there is still a clear story line that reigns supreme throughout this album.
“Who Will Cry”, the second track, brings in a new vocal style to this album that makes you stop whatever you are doing and listen. The dark and echoing vocals take a turn and change into a very primal growl. While still keeping with the dark and sinister vibe, these new vocals add a whole new dimension to this album that you really don’t see coming from the first track. The primal vocals seem to battle with the vocals heard throughout the first tracks. The seamless switch between the two styles keeps the nine and a half minute “Who Will Cry” moving along. The switch in vocals styles along with the beautiful breaks in the music that feature a more story telling vocal with minimalist guitars underneath honestly had me thinking the song had switched. Those breaks in the music and the thought that the track had changed add to the story of darkness that ‘For You I Die’ tells.
My favorite opening for any of the tracks on this album is the intro for “For You I Die”. With carnival-esque keyboards playing, there’s an element of creepiness to this track that goes so perfectly with the scene that the first two tracks had set. Although the sound of the keys doesn’t last for long, it has an impact and even when I was done listening to the album for the thirtieth time, I had to go back just to hear that one section again. The keys are heard throughout this album and, as a pianist, something I catch onto very quickly. Although hidden at times, keyboardist Nikolay Velev has a way of playing just the right notes at the right time to make them have an impact. Whether you notice them or not, there’s no denying that they have an impact on the music. They brighten up this dark album but don’t shine the light too bright as if to blind you.
My favorite tracks on this album are definitely “Cumha Do Mag Shamhrain” and “Fallen”. Sure, I’m a sucker for bagpipes and that could have something to do with it, but it’s also because they are a complete 180 from the rest of this album. I know it’s only two minutes and forty-two seconds and I know it’s only bagpipes for that entire time but the way “Cumha Do Mag Shamhrain” breaks up this dark album is truly perfect. Also, as someone who played bagpipes in high school, I respect the amount of talent it takes to play a track like that. The way “Fallen” keeps with the Celtic theme is the reason I paired these two songs together as my favorites. Opening with the sound of a tin flute, “Fallen” continues that 180 on this album. Although the flute drops out after a few bars, the signature doom guitar sound that replaces it seems to have a new found sense of energy.
I absolutely love the way this album seems to drag you along. That may not seem like the most positive way to put that but, if you listen to it, you will understand exactly what I mean. The amount of emotion that the songs emit is off the charts but it’s also not completely blatant. Chalice of Suffering is one of those bands that brings so much to the table that it’s almost over-whelming. With moments of heaviness and brutality that are contrasted with breaks that are airy and beautiful, this group has truly found a balance that other bands only try to find. Sure, the songs were long but at no point during this album did I feel bored with it. There were constantly new elements being introduced into the music almost making it feel like I was listening to a new band with every track. With that being said, Chalice of Suffering definitely has a style and a sound that is unique to them and makes them stand out in the scene.
It’s clear that a lot of hard work and time went into this album. From the album artwork, to the song writing, to the recording- there’s no denying that the members of Chalice of Suffering put a lot of thought into this album. All of that work definitely pays off and this album of music is so much more than just some songs thrown together– it’s a masterpiece.
My Favorite Track(s): “Cumha Do Mag Shamhrain” and “Fallen”
Chances Of Getting A Noise Complaint While Listening To In An Apartment: 6 out of 10
At Home Moshability: 3 out of 10 (But in the band’s defense– I’m just not one to mosh to music like this)
What My Cats Thought Of It- Artemis laid on the kitchen counter staring at me; Autumn stayed on my bed in the other room
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 6 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 3.9 out of 5
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