When Make Them Suffer released Worlds Apart in 2017, it showed a conscious effort to break away from the restrictive deathcore trappings that so regularly plague the genre. On top of that, it also turned out really well thanks to blending in a more ambitious palette of djent and metalcore, which in turn opened the band’s sound up to more notable growth and evolution. And while that might sound like throwing praise at what can easily be perceived as a low bar, it’s not the sort of change that happens that often in deathcore, a genre that’s become infamous for how set in its ways it can be. It’s not the sort of move that’s turned Make Them Suffer into a premier name or anything, but going from another blank face in a crowd full of blank faces to a band capable of real forward momentum is not nothing. It’s pretty much singlehandedly stoked the fires of hype for How To Survive A Funeral, an album for which expectations haven’t really been settled on anything in particular, a pleasing consequence of the breathing room that Make Them Suffer have given themselves to continue their expansion. After all, it only makes sense to keep moving in that direction, especially after how well it turned out last time.
In reality though, How To Survive A Funeral is more of a crystallisation of that sound rather than an outright expansion. That does come through more of an exploration of the ideas they’d previously laid down though, easing back on the more progressive elements and filling in the gaps with increased melody and atmosphere without forgoing any sort of formidable presence. It’s a more compact album than their predecessor, but it has the feeling of something just as big, if not bigger, and for a band looking to erase the deathcore lines as emphatically as Make Them Suffer are, that’s an easy sell.
And it’s in moves like this that show just how much of an asset Booka Nile is to this band. Her keyboard work brought the greatest sense of dimensionality to Worlds Apart, and when paired with Drew Fulk’s sleeker metalcore production, it makes for a genuinely huge sound at times that Make Them Suffers’ deathcore foundations can still permeate through and remain strong. It might be pretty far removed from the symphonic grandeur of their debut, but there’s something about the Deftones-esque passages of atmosphere on Drown With Me and the title track or the tremendous clean hookwork on Erase Me that pay homage to their roots while still taking onboard a more contemporary execution. It’s a rare instance where embracing clearer, more synthetic tones in modern metalcore actually results in added texture instead of blurring out everything in its wake, and thus there’s a sharpness to How To Survive A Funeral that comes from almost always finding the right sense of balance. As much as the glossy melodic rock of The Attendant is the closest thing to an outlier here, it fits right in at the edge of Make Them Suffer’s sonic expansion, and serves as an excellent counterpoint to the jerky progression of Bones and the moments of purer deathcore ferocity on Fake Your Own Death. The fluidity and movement within this album really is impressive, even allowing Sean Harmanis to deviate from his guttural roars in a way that feels natural with the album’s overall range and running parallel to its own maturation in sound.
It’s still yet to cross the threshold into greatness yet though, and it’s hard to pin down why that is. It might have something to do with the fact that this is such a short album, and with more of an opportunity to grow and swell at various points, it could’ve at least replicated the portents of its predecessor, if not surpassed it. Add to that writing that’s not necessarily awful but can fall into tried-and-true metalcore fill-in at points, and How To Survive A Funeral can occasionally feel like an album for which the huge sound and the weight within aren’t necessarily balanced. Granted, that isn’t something that really hits this album too heavily; the enormity that Make Them Suffer have embraced is enough in itself to keep them afloat, and the fact they’ve generally stuck to a heavier template at the centre of it all does distance this album from a lot of similarly-produced modern metalcore for the better.
As such, How To Survive A Funeral isn’t as bracing of a leap as Worlds Apart was, but in extrapolating what that album offered and showing a willingness to keep their eyes facing forward, this does have a lot going for it. Make Them Suffer are quickly becoming a refreshing source of diversity within deathcore, and continuing to expand and grow in a meaningful way, even at the expense of their original style, is proving to work for them. It definitely feels as though their next effort will have to be real barn-burner they need to avoid running out of steam too quickly, but given the evidence here, that doesn’t really feel like an issue. They’ve moving forward in a really convincing way, and that’s worth celebrating on the whole.
For fans of: Architects, Motionless In White, Northlane
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘How To Survive A Funeral’ by Make Them Suffer is released on 19th June on Rise Records.