Being happy is overrated, right? Really, why would you want to smile, and get that wholesome feeling that only comes with real happiness? If you are ever in a position where you feel such a way and need to be brought back down, one-man black metal outfit Suicide Forest has your back. Returning with a full length album, cheerfully titled Descend Into Despair, the to-be titan of depressive black metal has created an album packed full of enough misery-laden tracks to bum out even the chirpiest of black metal fans.
Descend Into Despair marks the fourth release for Suicide Forest, yet the first full-length album. The album itself begins as it intends to continue, with introductory track “A Declaration of Misanthropy” relaying a slow, echoing mass of noise and broken melody, a haunting effect which puts you on edge as you listen to it. This feeling of unease and discontent is only furthered throughout the album, with the tracks having the classic hollow distant black metal sound which makes you feel like you are listening to the album from across an abandoned factory. The sound is so far away, yet still manages to feel as if it is covering you entirely, hypnotising you with it’s repetitive, melancholic riffs.
However, it would be foolish to assume that Descend Into Despair simply attempts to emulate the black metal formula, utilising the tropes of the genre and no more, as Suicide Forest has established it’s difference and even defiance against the norms of the usually elitist genre. Tracks such as “A Sobering Reflection” and “Not For Lack Of Trying…”, which appear consecutively in the middle of the album, bring something entirely different to the sound as a whole of Descend Into Despair. The two instrumental tracks take a slow, sorrowful pace, much akin to the rest of the release, yet utilise the piano, an instrument relegated to a supporting role within black metal, and synths, something which is almost blasphemous to include. This bold inclusion is treated tastefully, however, subtly utilising these instruments as a way of breaking up the depressive metal which dominates the album, yet still contributing to the overall feeling which Descend Into Despair emits.
Of course, while there is something to relish with diverse, unique stylistic choices, what simply cannot be improved on is the hard-as-nails, heavier-than-imaginable, classic black metal style which was perfected by Mayhem in the mid-1980s. Descend Into Despair has this in droves. With multiple tracks on the album coming in at over eight minutes long, there is plenty of room for solo band member A. Kruger to showcase his ability, covering a variety of styles, from the slow, trudging, and almost isolationist style typically found on depressive black metal, to the fast paced, unforgivably harsh sound more in line with classic black metal.
The varying styles of play are found not simply throughout the album, but throughout each individual song themselves, as many of the tracks feature a mix of the slow and the fast styles of black metal. These tracks then generally follow a routine of starting slowly, picking up the pace, finding a middle-eight and slowing down, only to roar back in to life for the song’s finale. This kind of repetition is not a fault however, as each song manages to still sound different and entirely of it’s own. A particular show-stopper for me was “The Pain of Existence”, a track which features a lifted quote from Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty. Rick and Morty sees the adventures of a young, teenage boy and his alcoholic, chronically depressed grandfather, meaning that the inclusion of a quote from the show is not only entirely fitting, but also that A. Kruger is interested in reaching out to his audience.
Descend Into Despair is nothing short of brilliant; an album with enough emotional prowess and musical skill that it will have you contemplating what the point of life truly is within the first few bars of the opening track. And really, isn’t that what you want from your depressive black metal?
Descend Into Despair is out now and is available via their bandcamp.