Change is inevitable and is always accompanied with some level of discomfort. Miles Davis said it best: “It’s not about standing still and becoming safe. If anybody wants to keep creating, they have to be about change.” Make Them Suffer are no stranger to the term and have gone through some form of a change on every album they have released. How to Survive a Funeral is the fourth full length from the Perth, Australia band and sees them once again, shifting direction.
To those unfamiliar, the band signed to Roadrunner Records in 2012 and released their debut full length, Neverbloom. A deathcore album that shook things up with the inclusion of synths and gothic undertones that was not exactly popular at the time, except for an early Abigail Williams, Winds of Plague and Becoming the Archetype. The album toed the line between symphonic metal and melodic deathcore.
In 2015, the band released their follow up, Old Souls. This album saw the band heading into a more tech/djent style. Even lead vocalist, Sean Harminis, changed direction, losing his highs and lows, choosing to go for a middle of the road vocal style seen predominantly in metalcore. The biggest change was giving keyboardist, Louisa Burton, more of a role. Utilizing her talents less as an accent and more so to give the band depth and emotion.
In 2017, the band released Worlds Apart after signing to Rise Records. This record followed a large shift in the lineup of the band, adding a new bassist, guitarist and keyboardist. The band continued to embrace the groove/djent side of things, but their new keyboardist, Booka Nile, really brought a new dimension to their sound. She added harmonies and clean, soaring vocals to contrast Sean’s harsh screaming. Additionally, the album overall has this spacey and grand feel to it that is evident within the first few seconds of the opening track, “The First Movement”.
Where does How to Survive a Funeral fall in their discography as far as sound? If the entire album rested upon lead single, “Erase Me”, it would clearly follow Worlds Apart. The back and forth between Sean and Booka are there once again with soaring synths contrasting with groove-oriented metal. We even hear Sean sing cleans for the first time. Overall, the album feels a logical follow up.
Booka and her fantastic synths, that really separated the band from other metalcore acts, is rarely heard on this album unfortunately. There are glimpses of her here and there, but the production really drowns her out. She is used more in the softer melodies that contrast with a majority of the heavier parts, something that metalcore is no stranger to. This could be all be intentional though, because the band fires on all cylinders releasing some of the heaviest material they have done since Old Souls. But the term “heavy” is always subjective of course. The opening track and intro, “Step One”, is sure to incite a pit when they finally get to tour on this record. They have really tried to capture something from everything throughout their entire career, while also experimenting with new ideas. “The Attendant” for example, could cause them to be mistaken for a pop rock band like Boston Manor.
The band worked with Drew Fulk, who has helmed records from Motionless in White and Bullet for My Valentine to Yelawolf and Lil’ Wayne. This is definitely a metalcore record through and through and includes their most accessible music yet. The band cannot be faulted for not wanting to remain stagnant and keep up with the changing musical trends and reach a larger audience. With that being said, this album may not appeal to fans of their earlier work, especially the Neverbloom days. It is interesting to see the trends of bands that have embraced metalcore and the directions they choose to take. Make Them Suffer are a truly talented band and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.
How to Survive a Funeral drops June 5th via Rise Records, and is available for pre-order on Bandcamp.