Artist: Suffering and the Hideous Thieves
Album: Rats In Heaven
Label: Lujo Records
Reviewed By: Justin Brinker
Jeff Suffering has been lurking around the music scene for well over a decade. Ever since his inception as front man of the infamous hardcore/ post-punk outfit Ninety-Pound Wuss, he has been the center of controversy. His latest venture, Suffering and the Hideous Thieves, takes art and controversy to a whole new level. He plays the role of ringleader conducting a group of interchangeable musicians, who make up the Hideous Thieves.
I would be a fool to attempt to describe the sound of this record, or to even try to compare it to other bands or artists, because it cannot be done. The term “chamber-pop” is used to describe the sound of Suffering and the Hideous Thieves. There is a large classical component to the music. I can honestly say that this is the first time I have heard a hymn sound like a drunken waltz in “There is a Fountain”, which is the introduction to the record, where a choir of voices slur, “There is a fountain filled with blood.”
“The Collector” starts with a rock riff before the violin comes in, which is heard just as much as the guitar throughout the album, while Suffering and company sing, “Run Mary run strait into our heads get rid of everyone and anything that stands in our way.” “Burning World” a jazz influenced track driven by guitar, bass, drums, and the piano finds Suffering screaming, “Oh Death, Oh Victoria, you have stung me now.” “Her Blood” would have made a great B-side for Ninety-Pound Wuss’s “Shorthand Operation”, and with lyrics like, “I tasted death upon your tongue”, it leaves you feeling a bit vile, like you have witnessed more than you had ever wanted to, into the mind of Suffering. “There’s Nothing More Beautiful than Loving You” starts off with the cries of Sufferings infant child, before the guitar kicks in and the unstable vocals begin to sing, the chorus boasts one of the biggest hooks on the album where he sings, “And I, I Hate You!” The longest song on the album, “Souvenir” which is well over nine minutes, is a look at a serial killers thoughts on his victims, and ends with a choir singing, “Your beautiful oh so beautiful” with hand bells as the background music, which creates an extremely eerie setting.
The last few tracks on “Rats in Heaven” show a softer, but still haunting aspect of the band. Whether it’s the piano and violin driven “The Potters Field” or the beautiful string laden “Hush Little Girl” each song breathes its own life and sincerity. The album ends with a Celtic-esque version of the hymn “Amazing Grace” complete with strings, drums, and guitar.
I could probably write a novel on this album and still I would be unable to cover every detail on “Rats in Heaven.” This is not an album that one would listen to for fun or entertainment; in fact, it was really hard for me to listen to. The content of the album leaves you feeling like you are reading the journal of a man on the brink of insanity. It pulls you in and forces you to face the atrocities of the world. Suffering and the Hideous Thieves have gone beyond musical boundaries to create an album that stays with you emotionally and mentally. After listening to this album you almost feel defiled or like you are witnessing something that is just wrong. Its mix of beauty and repulsion, glory and damnation, and comfort and hopelessness, leaves the listener at a loss for words.