Chelsea Grin – ‘Suffer In Hell’

By Dave Stewart

It feels like deathcore maestros Chelsea Grin have been gone a long time. Well, they sort of have – their last album ‘Eternal Nightmare’ was released in 2018, they released the standalone singles ‘Bleeding Sun’ and ‘Blind Kings’ during the pandemic in 2020, and though the hunger for a new album was running through their fan base, it just never arrived. Finally the musical landscape has returned to its former glory, heavy music is doing the rounds again, and the band have returned with part one of a double album, titled ‘Suffer In Hell’. Yup, you read that right; the first instalment of a deathcore double album. Looks like someone’s been busy, doesn’t it?

The band have taken their time away to tighten all the screws and enhance their machinery, and it’s immediately noticeable on opener ‘Origin Of Sin’. The dramatic strings, the menacing melody, the eruption of filthy guitars and Tom Barber’s evil vocals – this is the same band you know, but they’re being fuelled by something different and the results are monstrous. Tracks like the punishing ‘The Isnis’ and the intense ‘Crystal Casket’ display that too – the formers blend of technical riffage and ominous atmospheric density is like staring directly into a black hole, and the breakdowns of the latter are so Earth-shatteringly heavy that the precision of every chug plunges you deeper into the darkness.

There’s so much to be celebrated on this record. The world-ending riffs and delicious pinched harmonics of ‘Suffer In Hell, Suffer In Heaven’, the relentless doomy vibes running through ‘Deathbed Companion’, the masterclass of ‘Mourning Hymn’ that sees them blend blistering death metal with their destructive signature style; there’s no filler or wasted space whatsoever. The finest moment on the record, though, comes in the form of ‘Forever Bloom’ which features a posthumous feature from The Black Dahlia Murder’s legendary front man Trevor Strnad. The track is like an homage to the mysterious and terrifying worlds that Strnad painted for so many, and his guest vocal spot towards the end of the track is a really poignant and emotional moment on an overwhelmingly bludgeoning album.

Chelsea Grin are obviously veterans of heaviness – even a skim of this record will show you a band with a firm grasp on their sonic capabilities – but this album shows that they’re also becoming pretty adept at reaching beyond the confines of their genre to add more depth to their sound. The genre’s core elements are all present and correct – the blood-curdling vocals, the intense brutal breakdowns, the break-neck blast beats – but there’s an eerie feeling that’s creeping through every track that makes it far darker than anything they’ve released before. The symphonic elements add a sense of grandeur and also mysticism at times, but the menacing twists and sudden plunges they take transform those traits into pure horror. It’s devilishly delicious.

This could well be a soundtrack for the dark depths of hell, and if this is what suffering there sounds like it must be terrifying. That means it’s a good album, by the way; one of the finest of their career so far. We’ve waited four years for this and the wait has been well worth it. Part two can’t come fast enough.

DAVE STEWART

Three more album reviews for you

Live: Zeal & Ardor / Lake Malice @ Electric Brixton

LIVE: Creeper @ The Roundhouse, London

LIVE: The Wonder Years @ Electric Ballroom, London