Make Them Suffer’s Old Souls begins with what one may first assume is a sleight of hand. Album opener Foreword is awash with pianos and strings: it’s the kind of introduction one might expect from a prog rock record, perhaps, rather than a release from a speed metal outfit. But although Make Them Suffer go to some very dark places on Old Souls – what else would one expect from a band with that moniker? – there is a sense of grandiose beauty to the release that Foreword neatly alludes to. Old Souls may be mean, it may be ugly, it may be swollen with rage, but it’s epic and emotive too, and by its conclusion the ethereal piano work that set the whole thing in motion feels totally at home.
After all, Make Them Suffer exist in the place where the hideous and the heroic meet. The barbaric Let Me In kicks off with a sweet piano line, and indeed, the tinkling of ivories can be heard throughout the record. Gentle melodies exist within utter chaos: the musical equivalent of an innocent child wandering through a crime scene.
Neither halves of the band’s sound – the sweet nor the horrific – are for show. Make Them Suffer don’t drop a tender track like Through The Looking Glass for the sake of it. Neither do they violently shred on Blood Moon just because they can. Their music is a summation of two polar opposites, but one never gets the sense that this is some artful, thematic choice. Make Them Suffer don’t make music like this so twits such as myself can theorise about it: they make music like this because they have to; because it is an essential part of who they are.
Nothing is artificial about Old Souls. Nothing is for show. Every single song, from the grating and jagged Marionette, to the tender Timeless, feel deeply personal and deeply necessary. It’s a powerful and destructive work that towers over others in the genre like a twisted, black beacon. One thing is assured: Make Them Suffer are headed for some exceptionally great things.