Suffocation

Blood Oath

92.5%
8 reviews

Blood Oath reviews

94%
bayern on May 2nd, 2018

Sworn to Secrecy Under Dazzlingly Brutal Pressure

The first time I heard Suffocation (“Effigy of the Forgotten”) some time in 1991, I ran away terrified and headed towards the most remote corners of the Balkans, determined to stay there for the next few months, maybe even years. A thorough search was commenced involving most of the police and military forces in Bulgaria; reportedly even veterans from the late-30’s/early-40’s partisan movement were summoned to help in this massive operation as they knew these mountains inside out…

But seriously, the impact was even bigger with Cannibal Corpse’s “Eaten Back to Life” recorded on the other side of the cassette. I was sure that the end of the metal world as we knew it was coming with such outbursts of brutality becoming the norm, and that those were much worse offenders than the new groove/alternative/industrial trends that everyone was pointing at. No, it was brutal death that was going to bring the Apocalypse, a stance I was holding onto for some time as the brutal death metal followers were rapidly increasing around me. It wasn’t exactly an “adapt or die” situation in this case, especially with so much music, both old and new, being offered in heaps at the start of the 90’s.

Things changed with time, and now death metal is an indelible part of my life although I warmed up quite slowly to the Suffocation repertoire compared to the one of other outfits. The major role for my conversion for their cause was the excellent “Souls to Deny” which I instantly liked, from beginning to end. Little did I know about the history around it, like it being the comeback album after a lengthy hiatus, and that there was quite a bit of pressure on the band’s shoulders in terms of expectations’ fulfilment…

A comeback well noted as said album was another exemplary showdown the fathers of the dazzling brutality movement, who have instigated a tsunami of more or less faithful imitators through the years, doing what they could do best, to pummel the listener into oblivion with bouts of aggressive hyper-technicality. The self-titled already spelt “caution” with the title, and indeed the shift towards less brutal, not as speed-prone delivery left some of the audience cold. Not me, though, as I found this unmitigated change more than welcoming, adding more depth and versatility to the band’s approach.

In other words, Suffocation were doing the trick for me after the comeback, and I only too gladly laid my hands on the album reviewed here when it came out. If the guys have voted to continue in the same not as covertly dynamic direction so be it… And the punishing pounding riffs at the start of the title-track promise exactly that, steam-rolling intricacy carved by spasmodic outbursts of blasting violence and superb melodic walkabouts, a perennially surprising shred-fest that didn’t exactly sound like a leftover from the preceding saga. But this is just the beginning as later on one will come across more surreal, expansive soundscapes (“Dismal Dream”) that nicely stretch just outside the familiar Suffocation signature; heightened guitar acrobatics (“Pray For Forgiveness”) that may have prompted Necrophagist to indefinitely postpone the release of their proverbial third instalment; short frantic rifforamas (“Images of Purgatory”) that keep all that made the mentioned movement so arresting firmly in place; and some of the finest “melody vs. technicality” juxtapositions of the new millennium in the form of shape-shifting hectic labyrinths like “Cataclysmic Purification” and “Mental Hemorrhage”.

In the long run this album is not a logical follow-up to its predecessor as there isn’t a single full-blooded mid-paced number here the leaden seriousness of “Undeserving” and “Provoking the Disturbed” invariably carved by strokes of elaborate brutality, and although direct references to the band’s earlier repertoire from the mid-90’s are not that many, the furious less bridled character of “Marital Decimation” notwithstanding, this opus is not very far from the impetuous spirit of, say, “Pierced from Within”, only presented in a decidedly more polished shape. The latter greatly enhances the guys’s endeavours as it gives a solid clicking sound to the guitars also helping the more melodic configurations in gelling better with the clinical technical surroundings thus ensuring an ephemeral atmospheric flair that was missing from the band’s previous recordings. There’s no poignancy at play under any form, mind you; it’s just that the overall package is wrapped in first-class production qualities that spell the word suffocation… sorry, sophistication in a way not quite done before regarding the guys’ arsenal. Well, in the midst of the 21st century one shouldn’t expect murkiness and noisy riff-mongering; the scene has moved on way beyond the Neanderthal age, and this album here is a most shining representation of professionalism both on and off stage.

Whether this could be viewed the band’s finest hour is debatable, but the truth is that it did provide some kind of a small climax in the guys’ discography from the new millennium as the two subsequent efforts, the recently released “...of the Dark Light” included, were built on the same patterns, both convincing and compelling enough, but hardly superior in any aspect. There’s a certain sense of deja-vu instilled throughout them as the veterans don’t strain themselves too much, preferring to merge with the voluminous competition at present. Well, there’s not much novelty to be squeezed out of the good old death metal template nowadays, truth be told, unless one wants to join the diversification campaign, of course; a thought that has never even remotely crossed the minds of the Suffocation team who have long since sworn allegiance to this gorgeously “off-putting”, mind-bogglingly complex on occasion, age-old genre.

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95%
Chopped_in_Half on December 27th, 2010

From my soul, I dispose the weak!

Well, last weekend I finally decided to take a trip to the nearest record shop here, and I live quite far from one, so I don't get the chance to go there much, but I did for once, and was trying to think in my head of what I was looking for, and then it dawned on me, I've been looking for this album since it came out. so I looked to see if they had it, of course they did, so of course I grabbed it.

So I get out of the store, get into my car, and took the shrink wrapping off, and was looking at the amazing artwork, really cool looking, so I popped the CD into my CD player, and listened to it on the way home, and I am sure glad I remembered to grab this. now to me, this is easily the best Suffocation album they've released since 1995's 'Pierced From Within' this is what I want to hear from Suffocation, to be honest, this album I find quite similar to said album 'Pierced From Within' and this is evident right off with the title track which is 'Blood Oath'. 'Blood Oath' starts with those awesome sludgy riffs and killer double bass which Suffocation is known for, and Frank Mullen comes in, and man he can still growl like no other, becoming much more decipherable as other reviewers have stated, this song has really catchy moments, especially around the chorus.

'Dismal Dream' comes next and is currently a favorite of mine on the album, opening with some catchy leads that are for sure Suffocation, as they have a very distinct sound in their riffing, this song remains pretty fast paced throughout, and the chorus is very well done, listen to those awesome blast beats, Mike Smith reigns supreme. 'Pray for Forgiveness' follows, and this is currently another favorite of mine, and it just keeps the flow of the album going, and man, when you listen to that break, holy shit is that fucking heavy or what, just an awesome set of riffing and drumming, and a solo that just rules, that is another thing I should mention about this album, the leads and solos are incredible, which I feel they have kind of lacked since 'Pierced From Within' although I liked their self titled album, this one is better.

'Images of Purgatory' is next, and is another song that is very worthy of mention, it has an awesome catchy verse, and the riffs just fucking rule, are these guys human? and listen to that shredding lead after the first verse, and that awesome set of riffs after it, just complete death metal, now, the next song is currently my favorite on the album, and that is 'Cataclysmic Purification' this song cuts the bullshit and starts right off with the fast as fuck riffs, catchy leads at the right moments, and man, those awesome sludgy as fuck riffs that Suffocation are known for are really found here, just listen to that riff at 3:15 throughout the rest of the song, just fucking pummeling. 'Mental Hemorrhage' comes next, and might give you one, not really much to say about this one, but wait until you get to the break, and hear that really distinct lead that almost sounds egyptian, pretty fucking awesome.

I'm going to skip down to 'Provoking The Disturbed' and this is another song worth mentioning, with it's awesome riffing and drumming sections, and a really catchy chorus, this song has it's own sound that's for sure, especially during the chorus, I'm sure you'll hear what I mean, and when Mike Smiths double bass gets going, man, this guy is a fucking machine, everything is tight and precise, but he still manages those blast beats perfectly, and doesn't just use them throughout the whole album, he mixes it up quite well, and then, you get an excellent bass solo by Derek Boyer, sounds really fucking good, throw in another killer solo by Hobbs and Marchais and yes, this song kills. the closing track 'Marital Decimation' which yes, is a re-recording of the track found on 'Breeding The Spawn', and yes this song is a huge step up from the version found on said album, and of course the reason is, the production, but at the same time, the band sounds better now, and I think they pulled it off and made it even better, they seem to like to re-record songs from that album, look on the last release, they re-recorded 'Prelude to Repulsion' and look at 'Pierced From Within' where they re-recorded 'Breeding The Spawn', I think they are trying to make up for the crappy production on said album.

That is another thing I must mention here, I think this is easily the best production Suffocation has ever had, everything is just right in the mix, and everything is heard, but what really deserves mention is the bass production, Derek Boyer really gets a chance to shine here, and plays a very good bass.

So bottom line, I think this is easily their best since 'Pierced From Within', and it's easily the best sound they've ever had, this album really impressed me, and while I did like their comeback in 2004 'Souls to Deny' and their self titled album in 2006 'Suffocation, I really liked that one actually, but I still think this is a big step up, I think they recaptured some Pierced From Within here, and I hope they continue to!

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90%
Akerfeldt_Fanboi on November 19th, 2009

Never Ending Nightmare

Suffocation are truly the masters of brutal death metal, as stated in the review of the self-titled album, they have a very well defined formula of song craft and generally follow it. Well, with this album, they decided to change it up a bit subtracting some of the technicality of some riffs like those on Pierced From Within and the self-titled, favoring doomier structures, more stupendous solo work, and their brilliant brand of NY death metal breakdown jams.

The production is easily the cleanest Suffocation has seen, ever, and actually fits the progression the band have been making from the dense, fuzzy guitar sounds of Effigy of the Forgotten to the sludgier sounds of the self-titled. The bass is fairly high in the mix, but not as pleasing as a tone as on Pierced From Within, their technical opus (sadly not featuring Mike Smith). The guitars, drums, and vocals are on an equivalence in volume with the vocals and drums edging out very slightly.

The guitars, oh boy the guitars are brilliant on this album. From the opener title tracks very familiar breakdown to that great bridge tremolo riff in the very same song we have Hobbs and Marchais' high points in song writing. The tone is much more refined than on any of the previous albums, lacking that shiftier sludgier guitar tone that I actually think Suffocation sounds better with. The solos are excellent, with Hobbs showing off his sweeping ability and his strange vibrato trem bar usage that make his solos sound so interesting. Marchais sounds exactly like Doug Cerrito, speedy high-pitched runs and trem bar abuse.

The bass has been accounted for, so onto the drums. Mike Smith sits again to wreck the kit with his sickeningly tight blast beats and his flurry of double bass and always interesting cymbal work. His fills are, as usual, a little bit of a letdown and don't compare to his main rhythm abilities. I'm pretty sure Mike and Frank write most of the lyrics, so he gets a thumbs up for making the lyrics much better than on the last album, where the psychological aspect was taken down for a slight return to "evil" themes like on the first two or three albums mixed with their newer lyrical approach.

The vocals, on the topic of lyrics, are of course well executed. Frank Mullen has managed to do these ridiculously guttural vocals, with extremely well pronounced words, betraying the harsh style and intensely deep nature of his growls.

The music is brutal as usual, and thusly is hard to listen to more than 5 or so songs, but you can be guaranteed that if this were a live setting, it wouldn't matter, because you'd be moshing and headbanging to your heart's content, probably only looking up and stopping to watch Frank bark some impressive line or Hobbs weaving his solo wizardry into the songs intense structures and breakdowns.

In the end, buy it. You probably like death metal if you came here, and therefore Suffocation is a must, and this album is well performed and over the top in its fucking awesomeness. Suffocation really came back to form with this one.

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99%
premonitions_of_gore on October 5th, 2009

No, I’m not Derek Boyer’s mommy

This is exactly what I’ve been looking for from Suffocation. I have all their releases, I love them all, but since Pierced from Within something has always been missing. They recaptured some of it on Despise, and several songs on their last release have it.

But this work kicks ass from top to bottom, and here’s why. Some have criticized the title track as starting too slowly, but I find that it draws me right in as the band begins to wind their way through the dark, twisted passages that they’ve created here. The bass all the way throughout this album is MASTER work. It might not be that Derek Boyer is that good, but he either belongs on the level of the Alex Websters and Eric Langlois, or the guy who produced the bass sound on Blood Oath is a genius. For several songs, most notably Blood Oath, Dismal Dream, and Undeserving, they laid down two tracks of the bass guitar, the normal background foundation bass work, and on top of that there is what sounds like an undistorted slap bass line, and it all sounds awesome. The bass as a whole is not buried in the background like it is in most death metal. The way they accentuated the bass guitar on this album almost reminds me of how Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath features Harris and Geezer in their music. It is that good and I commend Derey Boyer for being the author of it.

I am a sucker for NYDM breakdowns, and Suffocation throws in some sick ones throughout, most notably on Mental Hemorrhage (1:10) and Images of Purgatory (1:30)

More on the bass – if Suffocation was going to pick a song to double up as a bonus and include as an instrumental version, they picked the right one with Pray for Forgiveness. Just listen to the bass lines from 2:30 on, the lead guitar follows as the bass leads. I love it. Marital Decimation was also a great song to pick as a re-do from their ‘lost’ album, Breeding the Spawn.

All this with no mention yet of the great work always expected from Mike Smith, Mullen, or Hobbs / Marchais. Smith’s drums are as powerful and consistent as ever, and Mullen has retained his power and guttural delivery, while becoming a bit more understandable as he has over the years (not that I really care about the understandability too much). The soloing on this album is great. There’s no flashy wankery, but all of the solos are very well written and appropriately placed within the structure of each song.

There is very little here to prevent me from giving this 100%. I just don’t like to do it on principal. This album has restored my faith in Suffocation, and my belief that they’ve got a lot left in the tank. This album is going to (happily) cause me to go back through all of their older works again, to make sure there’s not something I missed the first 100 times through. They are back up there as one of my favorite bands, along with fellow NYDMers Immolation and Incantation.

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99%
Five_Nails on August 1st, 2009

The Gods of Brutal Death Metal

Where their self-titled return was an amazing reinvention of self, Suffocation’s newest release, “Blood Oath” is pushing the boundaries of destructive straightforward brutal death metal and doles out a crippling beating to whoever says otherwise.

The drums are the main focal point of “Blood Oath”. Pure death metal screams out from each blast of bass and clang of cymbal. From the title track on, Mike Smith’s drumming is as mighty as ever. Showing his command over his drum kit, Smith blasts and kicks, fills and grinds, at immense speeds throughout the album and shows how to utilize percussion to set the emotional tone of each song. Most of the low end of the band is just in the sound of the drums, which, though well produced still retain that live feel. The double bass is actual double bass, a sound that can be felt in the heart and not a click on a recording, and the blasting sounds perfect in every place on is present. The tempo of the drums fit every song perfectly as Smith slows down for some and delivers rapid brutality in others, but either way it sounds at times that the guitars are playing background for the drums and not the usual other way around. There are very few breakdowns, something that Suffocation perfected on “Effigy of the Forgotten” and “Pierced from Within”, on this release. But, like in “Liege of Inveracity”, the breakdowns are the epitome of brutality that any Suffocation fan would expect and get pissed off at deathcore bands for destroying the purity of. Suffocation still has it, and they haven’t moved to the commercialism of constant shitty breakdowns, but again understand that a breakdown is much more potent if it is used in moderation.

Mullen’s growls sound weaker than they used to be. Like on their self-titled return, Mullen makes his lyrics much more understandable and goes for a throatier sound that makes enunciation key on the album. This however is not how he actually sounds. Live, Mullen’s gutturals are just as crushing and from the diaphragm as they were on “Effigy of the Forgotten” and “Pierced from Within”. Don’t think from listening to this album that Mullen has lost his ability, when he gets up onstage he sounds exactly like he did a decade ago. The lyrics are just as intense and surgical as they always have been. As the lyrics focus more on the supernatural in “Blood Oath”, there is some confrontation of religion and consequence as the lyrics delve into the psychological. This doesn’t mean that they are not as gory and bloody as always. Instead, each flesh ripping song becomes more potent in material and as the album continues, the bodies continue to pile up.

The guitars are, to say the least, completely amazing. Gushing through riffs like they are cancer ridden children in wheelchairs trying to stop a raging elephant made out of constantly firing machine guns, the guitars rain down fire from every angle. The purity of the brutal death metal coming from Marchias’ and Hobbs’ guitars explodes like the cracks of Mjolnir upon the heads of the Midgard Serpent. Machine-gunning down any resistance, the gritty guitars bring back the original sound of Suffocation and instantly make this album a cherished classic in my collection. The solos are very short, but are only because of how fast they are. Where early Suffocation knew how to bring in an intense solo to round out an entire track, the solos in this are short bursts of precision and screaming that make the listener long for more. Though each solo only melts part of my face, some songs have multiple bursts of soloing that ensure that I’ll be seeing a burn unit soon.

Speaking of short, this album seems very short. Though the songs average over four minutes apiece, they are so fast and frantic that after the listener has wrapped his head around it, the song is already over. In good class, Suffocation has made me long for more as the album comes to a close and gotten me pumped for their next album already. The gods of true brutal death metal have spoken, their words have destroyed worlds, their notes have massacred millions, and all I want is more. Suffocation has risen again, and this album completely trumps their self-titled as it is a throwback to the type of music that Suffocation has innovated and perfected. If you are a fan of death metal, this is a must have along with all of their other albums.

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68%
Conceived_in_Chaos on July 15th, 2009

Blood Oath - a fair attempt with mixed results.

Upon first listen to this album I was overwhelmed by a feeling of admiration and at the same time, dissapointment of the new suffocation. Before I delve any deeper I am first going to mention the fact that I am mostly familiar with the older works of the band. In other words, the review is coming from the perspective of one mainly comparing this album to the say the Human waste-Pierced from WIthin era of suffocation. To begin, I will discuss the aspects of the albumt that I was pleased with.

I was impressed by the fact that their already seemed to be new elements at play in suffocation's sound. The first track (Blood Oath), bombards you with a slow, and heavy attack of triplets and dark melodies. The pacing here is very reminiscent of Morbid Angel's Gateways to Annihilation. The second track continues on with the very mid-level pacing. The remaining tracks again follow suit. At this point it Seems that Suffocation has opted for a more methodic approach to brutal death metal. The tempo is definitely a huge (albeit interesting) change from early suffocation... I believe this was an aspect often mentioned about the newer Suffocation material.

Another aspect that strikes me is how the album is mixed. All of this is really pristine. Frank Mullen has never sounded more coherent than he does in this album. Mike Smith's drum work is crystal clear, The lead and rythm guitars definitely hold their own here. The bass is even audible (you just need to be aware that root notes are the name of the game here), and adds to the attack of the sound. The mixing is definitely another plus, and that's where my list of kudos meanders off.

The musicianship, like always is good. The riffs can get pretty complex and offer a wide range of technique (tremolo picking, pinch harmonics, fingertapped soloing etc.). The drumming is definitely varied and offers unique fills, triplet blast beats, and suffo-blasts of course. The bass is audible and adds a much needed low end to the overall sound of the album. Frank mullent sounds almost as ferocious as he did in is early days (definitely not leaning towards the gutturals as much as he used to).

Despite the production values and new changes to the Suffocation sound, there seems to be something missing. After several listens to this album - in various violence provoking locations (work, the gym, general public etc.), I realized that this album lacked the one thing that these New York abominations often touted in their early works... intensity. Despite listening to this album in several adrenaline worthy situations it just seemed to have a bit of a sedative effect on my mentality. It utterly astounds me that an album by these guys could do that to me.

I think a couple factors contribute to the flaccid sound. First of all...the speed. Yes I know, I said it was interesting earlier, but when the whole album sounds like it was written while on downers, it tends to have drone effect. In fact, when the go into one of their classic "breakdowns" this just seems to all go to molasses. You're essentially listening to an album that ranges from turtle to snail pace. Hopefully they can address this on a future release.

My next complaint would have to be the songwriting. No interesting drawn out clean intros (like the one in Torn into Enthrallment), and no complex song structures. The formula for the songs seems to persst throughout the whole album. Begin with a riff, continue until Terrence does a solo, and then continue said riff with a little bit of variation. Honestly, remember when their songs would seemingly have thousands of riffs...all of which were really badass.

This album definitely sounds a little more reserved compared to the band's earlier works. At the same time is definitely a step of from what I've heard from the mid era suffocation material (Despise the Sun, Suffocation etc.); which was why I had such divided opinion on this album. They have definitely tried to make the riffs a little more interesting and complex than their more recent material. They also included more their classic style breaks (I must reiterate the these are not hardcore breakdowns) that are so damn pit worthy. It all just seems to be marred by a lack of drive. Overall it, seems like they may be again treading the waters of complex brutality, which is why I bothered with giving a halfway decent score. To get a good picture of this album just envision this: The badass tank form the cover of Effigy of the Forgotten getting stuck a little mud (basically suffocation hitting a little bit of writers block). After said rough experience all should be right, and we may see Suffocation return to full form next album. I would suggest giving a little bit of listen before purchasing.

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100%
eddgore on July 11th, 2009

Suffocation

Here comes another album by the mighty Suffocation. This album rebuilds any lost faith in the band (if anything like that has happened at all). This album hits one in the fucking face right at the start of its opening title track. For me, Suffocation has always been consistent. I have loved every single thing they have put out since the Reincremation demo. This album just adds to this very consistent catalogue.

Speed wise, this album is a little faster than its self titled predecessor. It does have its fair share of slow breakdowns, but it also has a lot more blast beats. It also seems that Mike Smith has used triggers on the bass drum this time, but it doesn't negatively affect the overall sound of this album. He absolutely crushes everything in his way. I think I would need to get on to individual aspects of this album to explain things better:

Vocals- As always, classic Frank Mullen vocals. They are same as on the self titled and also Souls to Deny. Growled, no screams, not as low as pre Despise the Sun era but still fit the music perfectly. Also, some backing shouts of "truth" in the song Provoking the Disturbed sound amazing and give a greater appeal to the song. And not to forget the re-recording of Marital Decimation which is perfectly done.

Guitars- Terrance and Guy never disappoint with their playing. The overall tone of the guitars is a little dryer in this album as compared to any other of their albums. But that’s something related to the production of this album. Same old tremolo picked parts, insane speed, nice solos (though I personally prefer the solos on Effigy much more than the ones on this one) and awesome sounding riffs always keep the listener hooked on to the album.

Bass-This Suffocation album has the most audible bass ever. Derek is a pure genius. I have always liked what he has done for this band. The bass perfectly compliments the twin guitar attack, though, if there were more bass solos on this album, I would have wanted to give it score of 150%.

Drums-Mike Smith WILL NEVER disappoint. Period.

Overall, this album, in my opinion, defines the sound of modern death metal, and also should be a blueprint as to what brutal death metal should sound like.

Stand out tracks-Blood Oath, Provoking the Disturbed, Images of Purgatory, Cataclysmic Purification.

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85%
draconiondevil on July 9th, 2009

Suffocation shows no signs of letting up

Suffocation is a remarkable band because they have never really released a bad album. The first thing I’m thinking of after hearing this album and reading the review below is “what did they listen to?” I’m serious! Did they even listen to the same album as me? Because what I heard was a solid brutal death metal album with technical riffs and deep growled vocals. Not a breakdown infested album with “hardcore” vocals.

The album starts off with title track which is the slowest track on the album. Now, just because a song is slow it does not make it a breakdown! A breakdown is when you get that chug-chug-chug riffing the entire song. This album has a heavy guitar sound but the riffs (yes, plural, a breakdown would only have one) are technical and interesting as well as being brutal. The best riffs on this album are in the beginnings of songs (as the previous reviewer mentioned) but they are also featured throughout the songs. In fact I am confident to say that there are no bad riffs on this album. Since we’re talking about guitars I’ll have to mention that the solos aren’t the best they’ve ever done. But they come close, especially with the solo at 2:00 of Provoking the Disturbed. My personal favourite Suffocation solos are in the song Liege of Inveracity. There’s no guitar virtuosity like that here but that’s not to say that the solos are bad. The solos here are shorter and scarcer than usual but they are still really good and not “a jumble of random notes”. The solo at about 1:30 of Pray for Forgiveness is awesome. It’s a whole 30 seconds long and doesn’t get boring. Terrance Hobbs doesn’t fail to please. And the solo at 2:00 in Provoking the Disturbed rules

The drumming is really consistent in this album. One of Mike Smith’s best drum performances yet. There are really good and interesting fills. Just take the song Images of Purgatory to prove that! The drum solo used in the intro to Pray for Forgiveness is really cool as well. It sure proves that Mike Smith is still the badass drummer he was on previous released. The drumming isn’t really fast as it has been but it keeps the songs together and of course, it’s brutal.

The vocals are decent but not as good as previous releases. Though I don’t agree that the vocals are “hardcore shouts” I do agree that Frank’s vocals have pitched up just a touch. That’s ok though because they still go with the music. Imagine just how sick this would be if he did the vocals he did on Pierced from Within! I wish he’d do his screams again as well. Like on Effigy of the forgotten where his vocals were so low that the screams were like normal pitched growls!

The bass is completely inaudible. I actually cannot hear the bass being played at all so I can’t really say when it stands out or anything like that.

Overall this is another solid release to add to Suffocation’s ever-expanding discography. It’s a touch better than 2006’s self-titled album and it’s almost on par with Souls to Deny. I’ll take off 5% for the vocals and 10% for the bass.

Highlights

- The solos in Pray for Forgiveness and Provoking the Disturbed

- The amazing drum solo/intro to Pray for Forgiveness

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34%
immortalshadow666 on July 8th, 2009

Blood Oath

It’s worth pointing out early on that I’m not a big Suffocation fan. As somebody who isn’t particularly a fan of old school death metal and who only mildly enjoyed the little material I’ve heard since Suffocation reformed after the turn of the century, I can’t say I’ve enjoyed this album much at all. But, it’s for a very different reason that I don’t like and a much sadder one.

The opening track, the title track, is basically just one big break down. And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, each riff sounds the same. There’s little intensity to the drumming. And before you accuse me of just going by one track, listening to the following track gives the idea that once you’ve heard this opening track, you’ve pretty much heard them all.

Most of the riffs seem to be tired and uninspired. The faster work has, for the most part, disappeared altogether, replaced by a staggering proportion of the very chunk-chunk stuff that many people despise about the modern deathcore scene. There are only a few shining lights when it comes to the guitar work – flashes of half decent riffs here and there, but usually they’re just in the opening parts of the song.

The guitar solos aren’t much better either. Instead of the inspiring leads, the solos simply end up sounding self indulgent and annoying. The solos don’t make any sense and don’t sound like they’re following any kind of scale or pattern whatsoever, and while this kind of thing has proved successful in helping to sell Slayer albums for many years, it bombs out quite sadly on Blood Oath.

Just a few blastbeats are scattered around the album, and while of course there’s no definite formula which says “Blast=metal”, the slower drumming adds to the –core atmosphere that this album sadly has in spades. If this wasn’t enough, the vocals have taken a distinctly hardcore sound on this recording, not even a deathcore or metalcore style. Frank Mullen sounds a little like he’s been listening to too much Hatebreed, because Jamie Jasta is who I start thinking of through almost all of the vocals. At least there are no bree-bree vocal parts here, though it sounds all too frequently like it’s getting built up to some.

I’ve blasted the album so far, so why does it get any points? Well, it’s a fairly bad album, but it’s not TERRIBLE. Mediocre, but there aren’t any points that grab the listener by the nuts and smash them because there are such insurmountably agonising parts to listen to (apart from a few of the solos) – it’s just rather bland, and there are many worse bands out there worthy of far more scathing criticism. Still, this is hardly a good thing to say about a record, so I’ll give it some individual highlights below:

Come Hell or High Priest – by far the least core sounding song on the album. Out of nowhere, the mediocrity stops, the song starts off with an excellent and intense intro and doesn’t let up throughout the song, and contains some excellent riffs. Once the song hits the third minute, is when it really peaks.

Undeserving – continues in the same vein as the previous song with some more excellent riffs and more tolerable vocals than most of the other work on the album.

But these are the only parts that sound out, and they don’t do as much good as the best two songs on the album should.

I really do want to like Suffocation. They’ve done a huge amount of good work for the death metal scene since their early days. But this is one of the worst albums I’ve heard in a long time unfortunately, and it’s leaning towards more of the deathcore side of things than that of straight up death metal. This review is unlikely to put off the legions of hardcore Suffocation fans that will no doubt pick up this album, but if you didn’t like earlier Suffocation albums, this is unlikely to convert you. It certainly doesn’t have me rushing down to my local JB HiFi to spend my pay packet on the rest of Suffocation’s discography.

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Blood Oath track list

1Blood Oath03:56
2Dismal Dream03:18
3Pray for Forgiveness03:41
4Images of Purgatory03:28
5Cataclysmic Purification04:52
6Mental Hemorrhage03:56
7Come Hell or High Priest04:08
8Undeserving04:11
9Provoking the Disturbed05:19
10Marital Decimation04:02
11Pray for Forgiveness (Rough Mix Un-Mastered)03:40
12Dismal Dream (Instrumental Version)03:16

Blood Oath lineup

Frank MullenVocals
Terrance HobbsGuitars
Guy MarchaisGuitars
Derek BoyerBass
Mike SmithDrums