Fyra, a scorching new full-length album available now from Moment of Collapse Records, expands and grows the Suffocate For Fuck Sake tradition of packing wrenching anguish into often lengthy tracks that blend screamo, post-rock/ post-metal, and lengthy audio samples.
Suffocate For Fuck Sake, a Swedish collective, have a discography stretching back to the early 2000s, when they released a four-track self-titled record with songs all above eight minutes. In the time since, they’ve only further sculpted their concept-centered songwriting approach.
In 2008, the group released Blazing Fires And Helicopters On The Frontpage Of The Newspaper. There’s A War Going On And I’m Marching In Heavy Boots, which — besides emotively crushing post-metal riffing — featured long audio recordings worked right into the songs that relayed discussions of a personal experience with bipolar disorder. In My Blood, a 2016 release from the group, featured more of that immersively scorching post-metal intertwined with audio samples from a documentary about a government-backed eugenics program in Sweden. Coupling these themes with the nearly wailed refrain of “It’s in my blood!” on the opening track from the similarly titled record leaves a lasting impact, aptly capturing a sense of existential agony over what’s “in [your] blood” getting put on cruel display. There’s no easy escape from what’s said to be in the blood.
The Core of Fyra’s Journey
Conceptually, Fyra focuses on a series of stories about addiction, which — like before — are relayed through audio samples. The audio is in Swedish, and Suffocate For Fuck Sake have made translations of the clips available on Bandcamp.
“The emotional core of this album are our four characters that we follow in samples and interviews and their stories about their different addiction problems,” the band’s Tommy Norin explains. “This is really the core of the music and lyrics for Fyra.”
The four figures across Fyra are identified as Mikael, Mia, Adam, and Martina, and the issues that the record explore range from a gambling addiction to disordered eating.
“The audio samples are about the topic of addiction,” Norin elaborates. “We follow four different persons who are suffering from a different type of addiction and divide each person into a chapter. The idea for this came as one of the persons appearing in the samples is an old childhood friend of mine. And as I heard his story it was good inspiration for a start. At the same time we went through kind of similar situations within the band so it felt like a topic that fitted this time in our lives.”
The Sounds of Fyra
Musically, Fyra (which translates from Swedish as “four”) is forcefully passionate. Methodical and staggeringly heavy guitar riffs help guide much of the music along, with a rich dynamic tapestry across the record that makes these songs seem very experiential. The songs — two of which feature over ten minutes of music — unfold in a manner that feels similar to the churning emotional storms from real life that the music reflects. Rather than offering a particularly clean-cut conclusion, Fyra charts a path of exhausting tumult.
The album contains an expanse of rattling tension — although rather than totally unwieldy chaos, the music largely feels somewhat centrally focused — and sometimes that focus turns to glimmering melody. “Alone,” for instance, which also packs crushing atmospheric riffing, seems rather melodically inclined. Across the soul-chilling path, the transitions between the diverse components of the record feel organic, amplifying that sense of emotional reality.
“It’s a long process to get one sound out of all different keyboards, voices, synthesizers and also with other guest artists,” Norin says. “And we kind of work it over and over until we reached as far we can take it. But the range and the dynamics are a big deal for us and something that surprises the listener in a way.”
Fyra ranges from the crushing mid-tempo guitars across album opener “From the Window” — which is one of the tracks above ten minutes — to simmering atmosphere and a thinner mix on songs like “All Our Memories” and “The Surface.” Within individual tracks, there’s also a formidable range — after several minutes, “From the Window” bursts into a brisker and emotionally devastating pace, and “15 Missed Calls,” which runs for awhile on wrenching intensity, briefly evolves into emotively uneasy post-rock in its latter moments.
Assembling the Album
“To create a SFFS album takes time for us,” Norin shares. “And this time was no different. We start by everyone for himself writing and recording ideas. We then try to put together the songs and create a first rough version. We then record this but are always open for changes or new ideas, so we always add or change things as we are mixing the album. This process is only possible as we are recording all music by ourselves.”
Norin cites inspirations well outside of post-metal and screamo. “I can only speak for myself here but I always find inspiration in music that is far away from our ‘genre’ because otherwise you end up close to stealing.” Norin observes. “So for example I really enjoyed the contrast in Purity Ring, thin soft voice mixed with distorted synths. Also Rival Consoles I thought have a great atmosphere over it and is something to take inspiration from.”
Following this personalized songwriting process, there’s freedom in the emotional realism of what Suffocate For Fuck Sake have crafted. As a whole, the album packs the kind of relief that might follow an expression of emotional honesty, like finally blurting out to a close friend some painful burden that’s been weighing you down — and within the album’s world, this whole scene seems to be unfolding in a thunderous rainstorm. The music is formidable, but it’s also totally emotionally ragged. “Cosmopol” and “Here” feature particularly standout moments (among many) of wavering dynamics that deliver a sense of urgently all-consuming passion.
Although their music has connected with people across the world, Suffocate For Fuck Sake haven’t played a whole lot of shows, although back in 2018, the group performed at a European gathering called Fluff Fest. “We also played Miss the Stars in 2018 and did a dress rehearsal show in Hamburg,” Norin says. “We are very introverted as a band but it felt great to meet people who like the music and talk to them. So this is something we hope to build on for the future.”