Despite my ear’s taste buds slowly opening to some Thrash, Norwegian SUSPERIA always have been one of the big exceptions to the rule, as I liked them ever since their debut “Predominance” in 2000, so when “Attitude” came in, I was really looking forward to hear what the Scandinavians have to offer this time around. The band had been in the news quite a bit after vocalist Athera had to be hospitalized after a heart attack leading to a triple bypass, which he thankfully came out of well, so let’s not dwell on that, but move into the music.
“Attitude” once more reminds me a bit of newer TESTAMENT (and not because of Chuck Billy having a guest appearance on “Live My Dream”), with the riffing, the power and also Athera’s voice, which reminds me of the towering Californian, but SUSPERIA are not a copycat band, don’t get me wrong. Opener “The Urge” jumps out of the speakers with the agility of a wildcat, tearing at everything in its way, but maintaining this underlying melodic atmosphere that elevates the track, just like the dynamic intensity of the title track gives this one-two punch that this style requires. All of this is further enhanced by the crystal clear production courtesy of Fredrik Nordström, which lends the clarity and power that so greatly gels with the melodies the Norwegians are weaving into the crunch riffing and thundering rhythm section.
Now the style mix is not necessarily very original, but with having a vocal talent such as Athera at the mic helps greatly, as he manages to cover a wide range from aggressive shouts to very melodic singing, which fits the variable music very well, and where they require a heavier influence, as on “Sick Bastard”, they draft in DIMMU BORGIR’s Shagrath for his raspy voice to bring back a little of the Black Metal roots of the band. Some people may accuse SUSPERIA to have continued to move into more catchy and thus more commercially viable terrain, but while the immense catchiness cannot be denied, the tightness and strong craftsmanship is something that you can’t just shove aside. And no matter what your stance, the melody of “Character Flaw” will have to be surgically removed from your brain, because it will drill itself deeper and deeper until there is no holding back.
I can see SUSPERIA garnering a big following with “Attitude”, as they have the catchiness to attract people, the heaviness to retain older fans and overall a high level of songwriting class that makes them a valid contender in the genre, switching over to Candlelight Records definitely will not hurt their prospects either, now if they could only get their playing time over 40 minutes, would be great...
(Online November 23, 2009)