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Suffer Yourself have come a long way since their origin as a solo project in Poland, 10 years ago, and new album 'Rip Tide' is another step in their evolution. Founder Stan Govorukha talks to Comrade Aleks about it here.

Interview with Suffer Yourself.
"Suffer Yourself was originally Stanislav Govorukha's project, a one man band, so to say. However, all of his official albums were recorded with a full line-up. Stan changed countries, moving from Poland to Ukraine and then to Sweden, the line-up changed according to these circumstances, but throughout Suffer Yourself was always about a grim mix of Doom/Death and Funeral. The band disappeared from my radar after the sophomore album release back in 2016. But time has passed, things have settled and Suffer Yourself are back with 'Rip Tide'! An album which evokes some questions, and Stan is here to answer them."

Suffer Yourself: Johan Selleskog (bass), Kateryna Osmuk (drums), Stanislav Govorukha (guitars, vocals), Lars Abrahamsson (guitars).

Hi Stan! How are you? As far as I remember last time we spoke you were living in Kiev and now I see you're in Sweden. How did that happen?

Hi Alex! All is good here!

Indeed, many things changed since our last talk, and, most prominently, my location on the map. How did it happen? Living in the EU was my long-going desire and I found opportunities to make it happen - so here we are, in Sweden since 2015.

How difficult was it to acclimatize in a new country with new language and culture?

Took some time to set-up the mind indeed. It is not an easy thing to integrate in Nordic society if one wants to have local friends etc - it is quite different here. Though high gain, good riffs and enthusiasm in art definitely opened some doors…

Was this move a reason for the quite long break between 'Ectoplasm' (2016) and 'Rip Tide', released a few days ago?

Yes, I would definitely say so. Many things had to be sorted out and settled first - so that certainly contributed to the time gap. Also I had to establish further development of the project (mentally and conceptionally), as composing material from Ectoplasm quite drained me. I didn't want to repeat myself and aimed to get new ideas which would be good enough to land in new songs. On top of that, with Kate (our drummer) we were busy re-assembling the band in Sweden and rehearsing the material with re-formed line-up. Fortunately, I had luck to find missing musicians rather quickly - it is not easy considering what we play.

And how did you find Lars and Johan? Did they contribute to the new material?

Lars I met on my first working day at the new company. I think we concluded to play together straight away (after some beers and discussing importance of Chuck Schuldiner's musical heritage). Johan we met years later, in Stockholm. Before him there were Malcolm and Piotr playing with us on bass. In general it is all the power of Facebook and connections. You check with local community of musicians or post the ad in the right group and then somebody who knows somebody tagging each other and so on. Contribution-wise: "Rip Tide" became first our album where everybody played their own parts on record. Previously we got away with programmed drums and short-cutted the time with me playing all guitar and bass parts. But this time it is everybody's contribution. Material is composed by me, but guys doing amazing arrangements to it and physically playing everything on the record. This mutual contribution to things also helped us to equip ourselves with studio gear which facilitates further creativity in arranging and technical senses. That's how NecroCrypt studio was born.

Kate's influence is tremendous. She is always pushing my limits of imagination and welcoming my exits from the musical "comfort zones". She is certainly one of my biggest inspirers and it is definitely reflected in how band evolves.

(Photo: HD-studio UA).

Did you have some special musical and lyrical concept for this material, or was it a development of 'Ectoplasm''s ideas without any other undertone behind it?

Rip Tide bears a completely new concept, it is absolutely detached from Ectoplasm. Of course, a listener would still capture some our "signature" elements and licks, but in general, this material was intentionally designed to take next step in the band's development.

Okay, and how do you see this next step?

Fearless dive into breaking rules of how orthodox death doom should be constructed. This said, I aim to stay true to the genre, but doing efforts on expanding its limits. For some time now we started to refer to band's music as "funeral death metal" amending "doom" tag to emphasise our highlight on the musically darkest spectrum of things.

The new material is relatively short – these three tracks take only 32 minutes, that's not much according to the Funeral direction you choose to follow. Do you see 'Rip Tide' as a complete work after all?

Yes, Rip Tide is rather short, even by our internal definitions. It is absolutely fine to refer to it as an EP - I observed that this naming/classification of release types sometimes making a tremendous difference to the perception of some listeners. But, at the same time, we consider Rip Tide to be a complete work. It is a finalized concept. All tracks are linked together, there is a clear story behind the construction and order of them, plus, drones from 'Ugasanie' are embedded across, adding to the common fabric of things.

Suffer Yourself - 'Rip Tide' (Full, 2021):

What story unites these three tracks under one concept?

The main track, "Spit in the Chasm" brings the main idea, self-contained within itself. It describes a feelings of a person being on a verge of mental collapse, whose futile attempts to cope with reality/non-reality are concluded with heavy drug medication. The whole process puts the character in the horrible emotional rollercoaster of the visions and terrors, which occasionally switches with moments of calmness and apathy. All this is reflected in the musical structure of the track. Ultimately, character fails to grasp reality and gets swung away by the tide of insanity.

The following track, Désir de trépas maritime (Au bord de la mer je veux mourir) is designed to continue the story, without the character involved anymore, and in more narrative way, putting the metaphoric parallel between insanity and stormy, ravaging sea. It is also less aggressive, we wanted to put the feeling of calmness, fading to the perception of the whole.

And finally, the Ugasanie's pure dark ambient sets the final mood, submerging the listener into uncomfortable, creepy mood, where darkness took all the remaining light and hope.

I want to highlight, that tracks coming after the "Spit in the Chasm" are not fillers, they are integral part of each other and even may be considered as one big 40-minutes-long track together. Ugasanie's drones are not only showing up in the Submerging track, but are under-layered in all the songs, so it may be considered to be a collaboration work throughout.

In general, pace of the whole album is designed to put maximum pressure at the start and gradually relieve it closer to the end, reflecting the dissolution of thoughts and mind.

Nautical theme came quite naturally. Not only, in author's vision, there are certain parallels between sanity and ocean but also recent life endeavours which in a way tied us to the sea.

You mastered and mixed 'Ectoplasm' on your own, while mastering for 'Rip Tide' was done by Greg Chandler himself. Actually I feel some echoes of Esoteric in your tracks, was that a reason which lead you to Greg?

We have worked with Greg from our first release, so he is no stranger when it comes to the band. Even during production stage of Ectoplasm, I consulted couple of things with him. Obviously, mastering is a way less creative process than mixing, but to us it was always great to have a final touch to be done on great equipment, by a professional sound engineer. Greg was obvious choice, since we've been keeping in touch for long years now. But I would say that in this case the soundscape of material did not define choice of sound engineer at all.

(Photo: iROCKez).

All three tracks of 'Rip Tide' are different. There is "esoteric", almost brutal madness in 'Split in the Chasm'; 'Désir de trépas maritime (Au bord de la mer je veux mourir)' contains some narration as well as cello's line and relatively calm; 'Ugasanie – Submerging' is a kind of ambient outro. Do any of these tracks point to a direction Suffer Yourself may follow with the next album?

Yes, in a way. While we had string instruments, narrations and drones in previous works, "Spit in the Chasm" conceptually and "technologically" set new ideas and challenges that are further developed in new material, which is heavily in works now. We definitely got more brave embedding FX and exploring more aggressive riffing - all that will be definitely reflected further. I like these "Esoteric" references we are getting. It is quite easy to mock the tremendous job Esoteric did and epicly fail at that - there are numerous examples of it. We don't try to copy the band, but deeply learn from it - putting own vision, applying own signatures and re-imagining composition, sound and message.

'Rip Tide' is released by Aesthetic Death, and that's a good result as the label is known for its fair and dedicated approach. Do you see a change of label as a chance to move the band further and reach new audiences?

It is a bit early to say about label's impact on the band in "promotional" sense. But I need to highlight that it brings me great joy that Suffer Yourself got signed by Aesthetic Death - greatly for historical reasons (just look at their roster!) and because it is very pleasant to work with person behind it - Stu Gregg. This label is actually focused on actual music and musicians' desire to deliver their ideas in the best way possible. It is not about profits at all.

What kind of ambitions do you have towards Suffer Yourself? Funeral/Death Doom was never a commercial genre, that's obvious, but I bet you have on your mind some prospects for the band. So what about it?

We just keep going. It brings (existential) sense and enjoyment for people in the band to play and spend time together while playing dark tunes and experimenting with gear and sounds, so definitely we proceed as long as we are happy about it.

From an evolutionary perspective, it is very interesting to explore ideas and convey concepts in musical form. If these ideas also somehow reflect with listeners - even better. One of Suffer Yourself's aims is to provide to the listener a soundscape, which will serve as a gate to own explorations and mind fiddling. We also play concerts from time to time and this is another factor which helps to move forward.

(Photo: Daily Metal).

Do you see the band's emotional message as a negative one or does this experience grant another sort of perception from your point of view?

Mainly, we aim for internal exploration of the listener. Of course, in dark matters. Fortunately, humanity produced enough dark concepts to be locked down with. We explore things rooted in nihilism, denial of life as concept, but also emotions and self-consciousness about futility, while sometimes reaching for completely super-mind discoveries beyond human comprehension which are cosmic matters - those are nearly impossible to grasp. Interpretation of nirvana state of sorts - reach to absolute meditation and full detachment.

What are your plans concerning the band for the rest of 2021?

We are rehearsing new material and assembling next album at the moment. We hope to close at least the technical aspect of it this year.

Can you share more information about the next album?

I can say that we are all quite stunned in the band about how it progresses. It will have quite interesting structural, conceptual and musical ideas behind it. It will also would provide a vast palette of musical colours to it.

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Visit the Suffer Yourself bandpage.

Interviewed on 2021-09-14 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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