Susperia – The Lyricist (Agonia)

Thursday, 15th March 2018
Rating: 7.5/10

Once — if folks can remember such a time — Susperia was part-and-parcel with Dimmu Borgir. Fresh off his departure from Dimmu, drummer Tjodalv (real name: Ian Kenneth Åkesson) got Susperia off the ground roughly around the same time (2001) as when Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia dropped, pitting the bands against each other, as sort of “Tjodalv’s revenge,” if you will. The matchup, however, was to be short-lived, for Dimmu quickly outpaced Superia’s brand of melodic black thrash (?) with Death Cult Armageddon, ending whatever “rivalry” was afoot. We all know where Dimmu went after that, but Susperia has never quite been able to climb out of the mid-tier rungs. With new singer Bernt Fjellestad in tow, the Norwegians return with their first album since 2009’s Attitude with The Lyricist.

If anything, Fjellestad has further amplified the melodic aspect of Susperia’s sound. The thrash is still there, although it’s modernized, less vertical and more polished, something that rings true on the opening “I Entered,” which, in a different world, would be a theme song entrance for a wrestler. From there, Susperia tries their mightiest to balance black metal tinges (“Heretic” and “The Lyricist”) with introspective (“My Darkest Moment”), the latter showing just how much of American influence abounds with Susperia these days.

Really, Susperia is a study in contrasts, a Norwegian band on the cusp of being the equivalent to modern American thrash, whatever that may be these days. The Lyricist, like their previous efforts, gets bottled up before anything of true substance breaks through, but, Susperia can still harken back to a time when, for a brief moment, they were the shining beacon of Norwegian thrash.

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