Make Them Suffer’s beginnings were initially rooted in symphonic deathcore, before progressing into a metalcore approach. Despite these stylistic changes – the band’s sonic transition has paid off and the Perth act has solidified their name amongst the Australia heavy music scene. The quintet’s lineup consists of Sean Harmanis (vocals), Nick McLernon (rhythm guitar), Jordan Mather (drums), Jaya Jeffery (bass), and Booka Nile (keyboards, vocals). With the release of their new album How To Survive A Funeral, Make Them Suffer has raised the bar, delivering a beacon of light amidst our current distressing circumstances surrounding the pandemic and a fierce contender for best heavy album of the year.
How To Survive A Funeral opens with the atmospheric track “Step One.” The ambient instrumentals last for about a minute until a one-liner and breakdown kicks off the record. Frontman Sean Harmanis screams out the lyrics “Speak from your heart!” An assumption made: this line was intentional as it summarizes the meaning behind this album. Transitioning into “Falling Ashes”, no time is wasted with a brutal introduction of blast beats and shredding guitars. Sean displays his diverse range of unclean vocals, guttural screams, and extreme lows throughout the album, even exploring uncharted territory with clean vocals. This is indicative in “Bones”, which begins with a groovy opening riff that is prominent throughout the track. Sean shows off his clean vocal abilities in the bridge: “Shed my skin. Take me from my home. I give all I am. I give all I own. Shed my skin. Steal my heart again. Take from me my bones.”
The music video for “Bones” is a gritty, punch in the face, showcasing the quintet’s powerful energy, a grungy atmosphere, and intense, unsettling visuals. The band is shown performing in an old cathedral, complete with a colorful stained glass window. The scenes cut to Sean sitting in a wheelchair, wearing a white hospital gown, and his vision concealed by gauze bandages. Throughout the video, there is a man sharply dressed in a pinstripe suit and white rabbit mask. Sean is shown in evident pain and suffering, with blood dripping down his face. He collapses to the ground and crawls to the man, desperately pleading for help. The video ends with a full shot of the band members, pouring out their hearts into the music, and a scene of Sean sitting upright in casual attire, only this time he is the one wearing the rabbit mask.
Watch the video for “Bones” here:
Sean showcases his monstrous lows in the siren song “Drown With Me”, a throwback trait from the band’s earlier material. This is a juxtaposing track as Sean and Booka’s vocals intertwine – the heavy and the light – and work intricately together. “Drown With Me” instills a visual concept to mind, that of deadly, enchanting siren creatures depicted in Greek mythology, predominantly observed in the chorus, with Booka’s melodic vocals: “Take my hand, don’t be scared. Drown with me if you can.”
“Erase Me” is an emotionally heavy track, a detail that is transparent from the very beginning as Sean screams with urgency in the first verse, “So here’s to all our mistakes. Euthanize what’s you and I. Smother us with cyanide.” This composition stands out with haunting keys, resonating lyrics, and the contrasting elements between Booka’s harmonic vocals and Sean’s harsh vocal delivery in the chorus, “But you’re waiting, patiently for something worth saving. I’ve broken you enough so don’t hate me. Erase me.” The bridge is the highlight of this track, featuring another sample of clean vocals from Sean and his most vulnerable lyrics to date: “Why would you save me? I’m not worth saving. You’re suffocating, so just erase me. Annihilate me. Assassinate me. I’m not worth saving, so just erase me.” A delay drop after the bridge leads into gang vocals as the song concludes.
It’s worth checking out the “Erase Me” music video for its enthralling visual content, which manages to perfectly encompass the theme of How To Save A Funeral that centers on death and the juxtaposition of light and dark. The band performance takes place in an abandoned warehouse. The opening sequence shows rose petals falling on Sean, and then cuts to reveal rose petals that are scattered across the floorboards. Shots later cue to Sean lying in an open casket as snowflakes descend upon his body. The footage shifts from the coffin and back to the band members, as snow drizzles down on everyone. The moody color palette impeccably matches this track and the overall tone of the record.
Each composition flows seamlessly and presents an opportunity for each member to shine, demonstrating intricate guitar work, passionate vocals, and intensive drumming throughout the record. “Soul Decay” and “Fake Your Own Death” are heavy, hard-hitting tracks that are sure to be favorites in the mosh pit. The title track “How To Survive A Funeral” features a unique structure, containing orchestral elements and a distinguishing contrast between the heavy verses and soft melodies of the chorus. “You barely knew us. You were out of touch, out of touch for so long. You filled the room up. And none of us knew we cared ‘til you’re gone.” This song is an epitome of bittersweet melancholy with powerful lyrics that serve as reminders of our mortality. “And while the crowd remained composed, they put a trophy on your stone. I guess you found a place to rest those bones. And while the crowd remained composed, they put your crown upon your throne. I guess you found a place to rest those bones.”
“The Attendant” strikes a chord as the standout track on this album with a dreamy, atmospheric sound that is reminiscent of Deftones, opening with Sean’s soft vocals: “You’re so certain that you’re tired of chasing ghosts. I’m such a burden. A parasite destroys its host. I’m so toxic. I’m so hurtful.” This is a spell-binding composition that evokes a substantial amount of both peace and chaos simultaneously; showcasing fragility in the verses and an intensity build-up throughout the track until the eventual fade out. “Maybe it’s the medicine. Or maybe it’s the state I’m in. Come save me from myself again. But you’d stay away if you know what’s best.” Closing track “That’s Just Life” perfectly encompasses Make Them Suffer. The composition stands out with its electronic and industrial approach, featuring impressive and technical guitar work from McLernon. “That’s just life. You fall apart or take the ride. That’s just life. A change of heart can change your mind. This is royal blood.”
Make Them Suffer blends a fusion of ethereal emotions with brutal breakdowns. The band explored new territory with this album cycle, as both Sean and Booka have stepped up their vocal techniques and experimented with their vocal deliveries on this record, a strong method that needs to be utilized in future works. Make Them Suffer has crafted a monumental gem, reaching an equilibrium of the band’s various eras. Make Them Suffer reinvents themselves with every new release. But this time, How To Survive A Funeral, infuses individual elements from the band’s history and combines them seamlessly with a new compelling approach in this LP, producing Make Them Suffer’s strongest material yet. Emotionally driven & forever suffering.
Standout Tracks: Drown With Me, Soul Decay, Fake Your Own Death, That’s Just Life
Personal favorite tracks: Bones, Erase Me, How To Survive A Funeral, The Attendant