Lee Bartow's Navicon Torture Technologies project came to a lavish end with the double album The Gospels of the Gash in 2009, after which he adopted the Theologian moniker and continued on. A special limited edition was released alongside, with an additional two discs of exclusive remixes and collaborations with a slew of artists both well known and just getting established. Your Suffering Will Be Legendary reproduces those additional discs, which function nicely on their own, thankfully not relegated to be forgotten bonus material.
At two discs and about two and a half hours in length, Your Suffering is an intimidating work. Bartow's art has always sat in a genreless space that touched upon all forms of harsh electronics without ever fitting into one specific style, and this material is no different. While there are exceptions, the first disc stays more in the traditional NTT realm of raw, harsh electronics and bleak walls of sound, with the second one branching out a bit more to work with rhythms and more conventional structures.
Pieces like "Everything I Have Is Yours" (with Aun) and "An Exercise in Pain" (with Autoclav 1.1) keep things understated and subtle, the former using repetitious hollow echoes as a base for lush synth pads, while the latter works in a crumbling, thin marching-band like rhythm, moving into film score territory. The long "I Won't Survive in a World Without You" (with Covet) also goes for cinematic aspirations, beginning with simple static and simple piano melodies, an unpleasant cut-up voice sample sets a dark tone that is later replaced by bombastic string synth leads and high drama.
On disc two, "Gumrot (Decaying Face Edit)" (with Fragment King) immediately grabbed me with its synthetic dubby basslines and skittering percussion that eventually launches full bore into a more dissonant take on the 1990s ambient dub sound. Similarly, "Pillars of Flesh" (with Eidulon) has a dark opening that eventually gets paired with heavily distorted vocals and a stiff drum machine loop that makes for a welcome throwback to the first two Scorn albums.
All of the material is quite good, with the only real shortcomings to be found with the pieces that just blend more into the background rather than standing on their own individual sounds. "In the Folds of the Flesh" (with Kristoffer Nyströms Orkester) heavily utilizes musical loops make for a distinct sense of repetition, but the amount of change and evolution is not enough to keep it engaging. "Sonnenaufgang" (with Troum) uses shrill noise and cavernous reverbs are done well enough, but simply does not stand out amongst the more unique pieces.
Theologian is Bartow's post-NTT project and although it sonically covers much of the same terrain, it has a different, less overly dark sensibility to it. "Fighting for Notion" begins deep, resonating low and bursts eventually get paired with a processed, tinny rhythm that nicely moves into harsher noise territory but ends on some more restrained ambient synth patterns.
"All I See is You" begins more in the realm of overdriven harsh electronics before pulling back to let some heavy synth layers move forward, met with some distorted, grimy drum loops that could have been lifted off of an old Skinny Puppy album. "Finding Comfort in Overwhelming Negativity" is less overtly rhythmic, but keeps a structure via a heavily distorted synth pattern that fights off the occasional bit of melody. With the buried, distant vocals, and overall structure, it comes across as somewhat more repetitious, but in an effective, composed manner.
Having not heard the full package where Your Suffering first appeared, hearing it on its own makes me quite glad that it was issued separately, because it simply was too strong of material to not be available. All of the artists who collaborated fitting in nicely with one another, with the new projects occasionally outshining some of the old veterans. At the same time, his new material as Theologian has a different, almost more matured and nuanced sound to it, emphasizing the best part of NTT's past, making both of these releases extremely satisfying, if somewhat oppressive to listen to in one setting