In the context of its early summer release, Suzerain’s ‘Identity’ is a bitter pill to swallow – their brand of eerie, Nine Inch Nails-inspired electro-goth doesn’t exactly go hand in hand with the increasingly warm, sunny weather. View it as an independent entity though, and it’s much better, highly compelling album.
Anyone after hooks is best off looking elsewhere, as that’s clearly not Suzerain’s forte. The London quintet work with much bleaker materials instead, ranging from hauntingly languid (the six blackened minutes of ‘I Know You So Well’) to brusque and abrasive (the jarring keyboard stabs of ‘Good Day’).
But just because it doesn’t have massive, glorious hooks doesn’t mean that ‘Identity’ isn’t at least somewhat accessible in its own right. Even with its dark undercurrents, there’s nothing on this album that’s comparable to something like Merzbow – there are undeniable shots of melody that act as a through line for this album, occasionally having quite beautiful results, like the hypnotically sparse ‘Edging Out’.
It really is a fascinating album, carving its own distinct path through the musical landscape, even though it can sound a touch too close to Nine Inch Nails at times (the similarities between Trent Reznor and vocalist Thomas Pether on ‘Always’ are just uncanny). But there are worse acts to be compared to, especially when Suzerain do what they do so well here.
This isn’t an album for everyone, that much is pretty obvious – it deviates too heavily from a traditional verse-chorus-verse style, and feels far too unconventional to really be embraced on a mainstream scale. But for those with a penchant for something a bit darker and gloomier, ‘Identity’ has plenty to dig into.
‘Identity’ by Suzerain is released on 27th May on BrainZone.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)