Breeding the Spawn reviews
BastardHead on February 2nd, 2016
Sublimely butchering itself
If I had it my way, I'd review every album in their original run with that one made up word and be done with it. That tells you everything you need to know. It's not unrealistic to say that probably half of modern death metal is at least partially Suffocation's fault, their flair for the technical, the chaotic, and the punishing all rolled into one package was simply inhuman in the early 90s, and every release from Human Waste to Pierced from Within showcases this with aplomb, and I'd argue none more so than the world's most well known underappreciated album, Breeding the Spawn does this the most clearly.
Now yes, there is an elephant in the room that I'll just address right away. Yes, the production is trebly and shitty. Yes, it hurts the overall package to an extent. No, I don't fucking care. I can understand being disappointed with the tinny, hollow sound found on the album, but to act like it completely ruins the experience for you just outs you as some sort of dork who's never actually heard a death metal album before. Yes, Effigy of the Forgotten was primal and savage while Pierced from Within is probably the heaviest sounding record to ever grace the 90s, but those two masterclasses in sound engineering have no bearing on Breeding the Spawn, and shouldn't be used to taint your memory of this album. The sharp splashiness of the album gives it a unique character anyway, and whatever lughead they hired to clumsily fuck up the entire album actually did a pretty good job of keeping the bass prominent, letting those low end licks get their moment in the spotlight when it's time. Yeah I would've preferred this album gotten the Morrisound treatment like nearly every other worthwhile early death metal release, but I've grown to love this bizarre, mangled hackjob of a production over the years, and you should to.
And on that note, I know it's really lazy to quote another review in my own work, but veteran MA scribe, Cheeses Priced, really said it best when he said "They tend to be pretty good about not playing the exact same bar of music over and over again – but neither do they shift about at random – instead, they deliberately mangle the hell out of whatever it is that they’re playing as they go, offering a number of variations of each idea, making for music with a real sense of depth and complexity." That sentence alone sums up basically everything there is to know about Suffocation's unique style as a whole. That's part of what makes Breeding the Spawn so special, as it's arguably their most chaotic album, with their trademark brand of twisted evolution naturally leading every song down a craggly chasm into the pits of Hell itself. Take a look at one of my personal favorites from the album, "Epitaph of the Credulous". From the start, it takes what logically should be an archetypical thrashy death metal song, but they present it with a hint of dutch angled lunacy, where everything sounds ever so slightly tilted countercockwise, and as it progresses it hurls left-field bass runs at you that flick the air like a serpent's tongue, before leading into an arrhythmic breakdown that straddles the line between the kind of slam that the entire Sevared Records roster would rip off a decade later and an almost Meshuggah-esque eschewing of logical flow, never entirely sure when the next beat is going to come until it slaps you in the face like Tyson haymaker. That's really the whole album in a nutshell: as unpredictable and creative as Ali with the raw power of Tyson. "Beginning of Sorrow" showcases this tendency right off the bat, drawing from an unfathomably deep well of riffs and growing organically along a twisted vine. It's a colossal, pulsating katamari of nightmares and rotting spleens.
Mike Smith further cements himself as one of the standout drummers in the initial swell of American death metal, with his unhinged and chaotic creativity being matched only by sheer inventiveness of Pete Sandoval. The intensity in the rhythm section is completely off the charts, with his signature hammer blasting pummeling listeners at every 120 degree turn. It's neck snapping and unpredictable without being pointless noodling, always throwing in a crushing groove whenever the music starts to get a little bit too close to "normal". I've always maintained that Doug Cerrito had to be the hidden genius in Suffocation, since their albums in the 90s are so vastly superior to everything since the reunion in 2003, but in all honesty his contributions are pretty split between he and the heart and soul of the band's sound, Terrance Hobbs. Cerrito seemed to be one of the chief architects of the band's identity of spiraling madness that I keep jerking off, but Hobbs seemed to have a more nuanced sense of sinister morbidity. A track like "Animalistic Offerings" can be downright unsettling when he takes the forefront for a bizarre lead or solo. An easy way to remember it is that the more overtly heavy tracks are Cerrito's, and the more chaotic and unhinged ones belong to Hobbs.
Basically the only flaw the album has is that the production is obviously bunk, and Frank sounds ever so slightly less awesome than he did on Effigy of the Forgotten two years prior. Here he's a little less savage and a little more coherent (which would eventually grow into one of my few pet peeves with the band around the turn of the century), with his hilarious "New Yawk" accent peeping through when you're paying attention. But even then, this is a comically tiny complaint, as his roar is still powerful enough to provide energy to a small village.
If you know anything about Suffocation, it's that they've been slowly rerecording this album over time, with one track appearing on every successive album barring Souls to Deny, and to date the only ones missing are "Epitaph of the Credulous", "Ornaments of Decrepancy", and "Ignorant Deprivation". The true tragedy as that those are potentially the three best songs (the breakdowns on "Ignorant Deprivation" seriously rival something like "Brood of Hatred" in their sheer force). But what it really shows is that the band understands how brilliant this album was and how tragically it was handled by the label with the production job and mistreatment of the whole ordeal. So Breeding the Spawn stands as the "forgotten" album that everybody seems to know about, and it's absolutely worth your time. Suffocation is one of the greatest bands on the planet in the realm of death metal in all of its subniches, and if you're wary about checking this one out because it's infamous for it's trebly mix, then you're depriving yourself of some of the most creative and hard hitting metal ever penned.
Basically just don't be a pussy.
Originally written for Lair of the Bastard
psychosisholocausto on September 3rd, 2013
Breeding The Riffs
Upon the release of Effigy Of The Forgotten, many people's minds were rightfully blown within the death metal community. Never before had such a furious display of hyper technical riffing and incredibly fast drumming laced with brutal vocals and such a bass-heavy production job been thrust upon the scene that it just melted down. All fans of bands such as Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse were anxiously awaiting the next release from New York death metal act and to see how it would build on this pillar, this cornerstone, this absolute masterpiece of brutal death metal. The release was entitled Breeding The Spawn and received mixed reaction upon release.
This could arguably be seen as an album that bridges the gap between Effigy and Pierced From Within as it is sandwiched in between these two extremely highly regarded albums. It contains the brutal tones of the former whilst adding in some of the melody of the latter in an attempt to create something that was the natural progression from their debut. Many people love to rag on this album the most of their first three due to it having a sub-par production job and not having tracks that are quite as memorable as Liege Of Inveracity. In truth, this is a release that packs in a huge punch, although not quite as much as their monolith debut.
This album is a sledgehammer to the face of anyone that doubted the band, throwing frantic bass solos and phenomenal riffs at the listener right from the opening. Frank Mullen's savage vocals open this release up in spectacular fashion before a slight break with an intense and technical riff that continues through to the verse of the opening track. This first minute of the album alone should be enough to persuade many that this is indeed a solid album. The most improved factor of the band on here would be the bassist, who breaks out a few solos on certain tracks to make up for his seemingly pedestrian performance on their debut. Anchoring down the band with some amazing blast beats is Mike Smith, who isn't quite up to scratch when compared to his performance on their debut but he definitely brings a satisfying presence to their sound.
The riffs are the centerpiece of any death metal album, and few can riff as hard as Terrance Hobbs. The guitar work on this release is incredible, flooded with interesting usage of pinched harmonics and slower slams. The solos are not quite as well placed nor well used as on their debut, but many of the riffs are fantastic, using some melody this time around to throw the odd catchy riff in there. Marital Decimation has some of the strongest riffs here, with non-stop brutality capturing the listener in its sickening twists and turns from start to finish. Few albums hit as hard as this one does in the riffing department.
The most notorious thing about this album is the rather lackluster production job, and this is a fair comment as everything sounds so rusty and distant. The guitars are buried by the blast beats half the time which is unfortunate but it would be nice to at least hear what is being played. This is the main reason that this album does not come close to touching the masterful work on their debut, but this is still a highly recommended album.
the_trendkill on July 22nd, 2011
An Excellent, Underappreciated Follow-Up Effort
As most seasoned fans of death metal are already well aware, Suffocation's first full-length release, Effigy of the Forgotten, has been legendarily influential on the evolution of the genre. It is an album of monumental importance. However, the problem with bands releasing remarkable albums is that time and time again the metal community has seen the bands in question provide us with follow-up efforts that are serious letdowns (for a good example of this, see Judas Priest and their highly influential album British Steel, which was followed by the awful Point of Entry).
If you're like many bands, after you've released an album like "Effigy of the Forgotten", you've used up all of your good material and the subsequent effort is bland and uninteresting. However, if you're Suffocation, instead you go into the studio with a lineup of material that is every bit on par with your previous effort. Then, regardless of recording difficulties you lay down the tracks to a sophomore release that is just as enjoyable as the first. Most bands don't do that, but Suffocation did. Often panned for its thin production and for simply not being Effigy, "Breeding the Spawn" is an outstanding effort and offers listeners even more of Suffocation's trademark style, brutality, and technicality, this time in a package that is arguably more enjoyable than before.
Yes, the production on Breeding the Spawn is of worse quality than on Effigy of the Forgotten. Deal with it. Seriously. Fans of heavy metal should understand that many bands in this field suffer from perennially being screwed over by the recording industries, and usually if an album has production that is inferior to its predecessor it is not the fault of the men behind the music. It certainly isn't in this case. The album comes across my speakers more quietly than the Suffocation albums that bookend it, but simply turning up the volume a few notches remedies the problem and the sound comes through with a satisfying roar.
What really draws me to this album is not its similarities to Effigy, but rather its differences. Effigy was crucial to the foundation of technical death metal. In contrast, Breeding the Spawn expands upon that groundwork. The slight change in direction is apparent as soon as the album begins. Effigy, although very firmly rooted in death metal, had a considerable amount of thrash influence. That influence is diminished on this album. Save for a few moments, such as the introductory riff of "Marital Decimation", Breeding the Spawn stays completely in technical territory.
The opening track, "Beginning of Sorrow", is phenomenal. The band wastes no time jumping headfirst into the fray. The frantic yet controlled pace at which the song begins does a fantastic job at setting the mood for the album. Mike Smith's blast beats through the opening section are flawless and highly memorable, and his drumming is one of the standout performances on this album. Also exceptional is the tremolo picking in the guitar tracks through this opening section, particularly apparent after the brief bass break. The most important part, though, begins at approximately 1:45 into the song, when the drums briefly drop out and allow the guitars to lay down a couple of measures of the next riff. This riff melts the mind the first few times it is heard, because there is a stark contrast in the guitar and drum styles through this section. The riff is slow, but the drum track is fast. Without giving the section a very careful listen, it seems that the two are out of sync with one another. In reality, there is actually a somewhat of a polyrhythm going on here, which is both memorable and bizarre.
The title track is one of Suffocation's classic anthems, and the band thought so highly of the song they decided to re-record it on their following album, Pierced from Within (worthy of note, Suffocation has actually re-recorded several songs from this album on subsequent releases, perhaps to provide the fans with well-produced versions). The highlight of the track is the slow, crawling, creepy riff in the middle of the song, which is one of Suffocation's many breakdowns which influenced all of their brutal death metal successors.
"Marital Decimation" is another one of the songs the band would later feel compelled to re-record (see the album Blood Oath). This was for good reason - the song is excellent. Similarly to the opening track, this one wastes no time jumping right into the fire. The intro to this song is one of the more thrash-oriented moments on the album, with a jumping riff that perpetually compels me to bang my head. In my opinion, even though the riff doesn't last very long, I think it's one of Suffocation's most memorable.
"Prelude to Repulsion" offers more of Suffocation's trademark slow, chugging breakdowns. The first of the two begins around 1:05, and the second around 2:15. The second of the two, in particular, is a standout moment on the album and another moment when I simply must bang my head. Yet another begins at 3:15, and this one is followed by a blistering, frantic solo from Hobbes. The most unfortunate part of this album's production is that the few times that Hobbes really lets it loose and goes nuts on his strings, such as he does here, the sound fades out, and in the middle of the solo there is a moment when his guitar seems to momentarily go silent. This can be noticed in a few other tracks as well, and it's my only real complaint about the production.
The closing track, "Ignorant Deprivation", although not the album's best, has a few standout moments. In particular, I refer to the breakdown around 3:00 that is easily the slowest passage featured on the album. There's a creepy bass line running underneath it that makes the sound feel like dripping molasses. Or perhaps blood, given the nature of the music. You can take your pick. Also, the closing riff, which begins about forty seconds from the end of the track, is one of my favorite closing lines in death metal. What stands out about it is that it's not overdone. It's simple, it sounds really cool, and it fades out. It leaves the listener thinking instead of reeling.
As I see it, although this album doesn't quite make it into the category of being an essential release, it is remarkably close to it. I admit that some people will be upset with the production quality, and although I think that's foolish, I also accept that it is a legitimate complaint. For me, the key to this album is the evolution of the band's sound and what it meant for the technical death metal genre. If you ask me, it meant very, very good things.
Highlights: Beginning of Sorrow, Breeding the Spawn, Marital Decimation, Prelude to Repulsion (and for the latter three on that list, you can enjoy the band's re-recorded versions as the closing tracks on the albums Pierced from Within, Blood Oath, and Suffocation, respectively)
hells_unicorn on October 19th, 2010
Not what it seems, in a good way.
There’s a persistent storm cloud of controversy surrounding Suffocation’s sophomore effort “Breeding The Spawn”, owing mostly to the changing nature of recording industry politics. Whatever credibility one could attribute to Roadrunner Records prior to 1993 all but disappeared, and was replaced with an out and out stinginess in allocating funds to its old school bands in favor of speculating in the emerging pseudo-metal world of mainstream 90s music. Suffocation was perhaps unique in that their sound is informed enough by New York’s hardcore scene that they were able to retain some commercial viability since mallcore began sucking up all the attention from more orthodox heavy bands, and were able to bounce back with a better produced album in “Pierced From Within”, which is widely heralded as being either equal or greater to their classic debut in many quarters. But this unfortunate album has since become locked into the limbo of cult status, owing mostly to an allegedly inferior production.
Opinions may vary, but treating this album by itself, it’s a spectacular chunk of decrepit aggression that pays a very technical, yet more proper homage to the roots of the genre than its predecessor. While most fans of this band put it aside for its thinner, distant sounding production, there is a strong tendency towards the practices of the late 80s that will definitely appeal to those with a fetish for early Morbid Angel, Deicide and Cannibal Corpse. This is an album that is only mildly informed by the goregrind/hardcore sledgehammer that typifies most of this band’s material, and greater attention is paid to recognizable riff work and an overt thrash character that had begun to vanish from death metal by this point. Naturally the trebly, heavily reverb detailed production is a leading culprit in tempering what might be an equally heavy endeavor (judging by the inclusion of several these songs on later releases), but the result is not the mediocre exercise that many have made it out to be.
A single listening of “Epitaph Of The Incredulous”, “Prelude To Repulsion” and “Ignorant Deprivation” will reveal a sound more in line with “Eaten Back To Life” than the next rung on the ladder towards “Blasphemy Made Flesh” that would normally be attributed to this outfit. There is a prominent amount of distinctive bass work that, although not nearly as bombastic in sound as other incarnations, does keep things interesting and distinct from most similar sounding offerings from 3-5 years prior. The riffs are a heavily chromatic barrage of palm muted brilliance that is heavily informed by the extreme fringes of late 80s Thrash, with Sodom being the most noticeable. There’s plenty of Frank Blackfire and Kerry King induced madness going on during the lead guitar breaks as well, but this is an album where all the parts combine together to create a harmoniously chaotic whole that will locked the listener in, kick his ass repeatedly, and then laugh at how poorly he takes his beating.
It might be a bit of a stretch, but Roadrunner’s whoring and money-grubbing may well have resulted in this album being better than it otherwise would have been if it had been given the brutality to the extreme, heaviness to the point of total pulverization approach to album production that Scott Burns is known for. Perhaps it’s an album more suited to 1990-91 than to 1993, but what is really in a year of release when there is good old fashioned, ugly as hell death metal with a brilliant mix of brutality and technicality to be heard? Put aside your undying devotion to “Effigy” and “Pierced” for a moment, forget your unrelenting hatred of Roadrunner, and give these 8 newly spawned fits of New York bred brilliance take you over.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on October 19, 2010.
Thrones726 on May 31st, 2009
After Suffocation's 1991 masterpiece Effigy of the Forgotten, fans did not know what to expect next and were impatiently waiting for another taste of Brutality. Suffocation went back into the studio with more of the same ideas, but this time they added a little more melody and more complex song structures. 1993's Breeding the Spawn brought just that and a little bit more to the table.
Often ignored and disregarded, this album is sadly very underrated by the metal community in general. There are many factors that probably led to this. For one thing, the production is not top notch. Roadrunner did not let Suffocation record with who they wanted to(most likely Scott Burns) and instead chose for them. That combined with Suffocation's relentless style of blast beats about, complex riffs, and crushing breakdowns overall made the production fall through. Throughout the album, the guitars on some tracks have a slightly annoying buzzing sound, which often gets lost in the mix. The vocals here by Frank Mullen are different from Effigy of the Forgotten. There more intelligible, but don't worry his vocals are still as guttural as ever and are a pounding force on the album. The drums do sound very good here also, as does the bass, which plays a big part in the creativity of this album.
Once you get past the production, you'll soon realize the sheer genius of this release. Songs like Beginning of Sorrow, Breeding the Spawn, Prelude to Repulsion, and Anomalistic offerings really display the melodic side of Suffocation here. While tracks like Marital Decimation, and Epitaph of the Credulous have crushing sections that leave you wanting more. Franks vocals only help everything come together even more. Once again, the bass is very prominent on this album. In almost every song, the bass really does amazing things here. you'll sometimes hear bass sweeping, tapping, and songs will stop just so the bass can play a solo or lead into another riff. The bass commands on this album.
While most people disregard this album, this is an undeniable classic by Suffocation. My advice is to just ignore the production and listen to the amazing creativity this album has to offer. The riffs are melodic, crushing, and technical. The vocals are guttural like they should be coming from Frank. The drumming is very solid, and the basswork is unbelievable. Breeding the Spawn is an amazing effort from The legends Suffocation, and is definitely an album worth picking up.
masscows on August 11th, 2008
Criminally overlooked and underrated
Suffocation's second full-length album, Breeding the Spawn is often regarded by the foolish as lacking in comparison to Suffocation's other early work. However, Breeding the Spawn does alot of things right and manages to set itself apart from Effigy of the Forgotten and Pierced From Within quite a bit with a few touches unique to this album. In all actuality, this album would probably be held in even higher regard than Suffocation's other work if not for some small flaws.
One aspect that Breeding the Spawn succeeds in is its not-so-subtle incorporation of melodic sections. Whereas Effigy of the Forgotten used jagged and dissonant melody to add to its barbarism and brutality, and Pierced From Within used melody as a connective tool, Breeding the Spawn thrives on the fact that both of these melodic approaches are incorporated and also consonant "pleasant" melody is used frequently and to great effect. From the harmonized lead section in "Anomalistic Offering" to the jazzy bridges in "Beginning of Sorrow" and "Prelude to Repulsion", Suffocation succeeds at giving the songs the variety necessary to stay interesting throughout. Another huge plus is that the bass really gets a chance to shine through with several sections featuring the bass as lead instrument. These are most noticeable in the title track, "Epitaph of the Credulous", "Prelude to Repulsion" and "Ignorant Deprivation". The bass guitar in general is mixed very well and can be heard throughout, which for death metal is very important. Also, Suffocation's patented brutal doomy breaks are at their absolute best here, with each one bringing the ultimate headbanging glory and each one being very different from the next.
Though, like said before, Breeding the Spawn is not without its detractors. The most common complaint about this album is the production, and the complaints aren't without some basis. Sometimes the production leaves the riffing indistinct and only somewhat decipherable. During blasting sections especially, the riffing is pretty much degraded to completely indecipherable buzzing. This is probably in part because to begin with, Suffocation were trying to achieve a wall of sound effect with simplistic, percussive riffing to accompany the blastbeats, but the production essentially strips away the melodic value of said blasting sections. Also, the guitars on "Epitaph of the Credulous" and "Ignorant Deprivation" sound like they were recorded through a cardboard tube, leaving an odd and constant buzzing above the guitars themselves. The mix is reasonably clear albeit lacking distinction, in the end sounding more like a well-produced demo than a studio album. Now, are these wholly bad things? No, not at all. Actually, the production is another thing about Breeding the Spawn that really adds to its uniqueness within Suffocation's catalog, and it enhances the presentation of the music by giving it a raw and primitive sense of aggression that death metal should be aiming for.
All in all, Breeding the Spawn is just as good if not better than Suffocation's other classics, and is definitely worth picking up for fans who may have heard the wrong opinion that the production makes it unlistenable (where that notion came from is a mystery to me) and took it seriously. Minor 'flaws' aside, Breeding the Spawn is an excellent example of death metal done right and would make a worthy addition to any metal collection.
thinkpad20 on September 6th, 2007
Consistently and criminally overlooked...
...even by me, until recently. When most people, even most hardcore Suffocation fans, list Suffocation's greatest works, it almost invariably comes down to Effigy of the Forgotten, Pierced from Within, and/or Despise the Sun. All three were unmistakably masterpieces, but many act as if Breeding the Spawn didn't even exist, or at best it was just a black mark in an otherwise stellar catalogue. I was in this camp as well, until I "rediscovered" the album.
As most everyone knows, the reason for the popular opinion is obvious from the first second of the record: the production is basically shit. It's not all bad - the vocals and the bass sound great. But the guitar tone is thin and very quiet sounding - it sounds like they took a cheap practice amp and recorded it with a $5 computer microphone. I don't understand how Suffocation went from the tone on Effigy to this one. It's like night and day. However, the poor production on the guitars really showcases the bass, which, as I will get to, is a very good thing. The drums similarly sound very thin. In addition, Smith's two bass drums are poorly matched, such that moments such as the opening of the title track, they sound very awkward, and when he goes very fast, they just turn into a low rumble. I don't know why they didn't just use triggers like on Effigy. In short, the production is, shall we say, lacking.
However, the album is an absolute masterpiece. Let's begin with the technique. I read the following in an interview of Doug Cerrito right after Pierced was released:We weren't too technical on [Pierced]. We actually tried to veer away from that, as we felt we were too technical on our last album. This album is faster than our last. When writing for this album we were on our guards against becoming too technical.
At the time, I was quite familiar with Pierced from Within, and as a guitarist, I can tell you that that album is, if possible, even more brutal to play as it is to listen to. It's nuts. So when I first read that, I found it difficult to believe. After all, nobody talks much about the guitar work on Breeding the Spawn -- nobody says much anything about except that the sound sucks. But take my word for it: it's true. The riffs on this album are Suffocation at their absolute most insane, twistiest and downright mindblowing at times. Not just in terms of technique but in terms of creativity. Naturally, Suffocation's signature mind-bending and impossibly difficult riffs are out in full force -- just listen to the final track "Ignorant Deprivation," where you'll be presented with one of the craziest guitar riffs you've ever heard (that is, if you've skipped the first seven tracks). But you also have elements truly unique to their other albums, and to metal in general. For example, the breakdown in the aforementioned song which starts as a very simple super-slow chug session, but then suddenly adds a strange and haunting bass solo which takes the listener completely by surprise.
That element of surprise is key to the genius of Breeding the Spawn. Transitions come out of nowhere, riffs twist and turn like Morbid Angel with Tourrette's syndrome. The characteristic twistyness that has made Pierced so famous is even crazier on this album. On the aforementioned followup album, Suffocation honed and refined the approach, as well as improved the production (quite the understatement). Thus, while you might say Pierced is controlled chaos, Breeding is pure refined chaos -- or would be were it not for the staggering talent of the musicians involved. Discounting the production, it is similar in many ways to its successor, and I think of them almost as companion albums. Both were technical masterpieces and display Suffocation at their most inventive. Where Pierced is a tighter package, with more advanced drumming and more mature songwriting, this album makes up for it in sheer insanity and pure creativity.
This leads me to my other complaint about the album, which is Smith's performance. While the other instruments display technical prowess never heard before (and in many cases, since), Smith seems to be struggling to keep up with the rest of the band. Don't get me wrong, Mike is no slouch on this album, but he simply hadn't evolved the way the rest of the band had. On Effigy, Mike's drums were a tour-de-force of gut-punching brutality -- no small feat for a 17-year old. On that album, guitars and drums were perfectly matched to each other, combining as perfect compliments to each other. But on Breeding, Smith seems to be trying to adapt the same style of Effigy, while the other instruments are a whirlwind of technicality that Smith doesn't seem to gel as well with. That said, he keeps up more than adequately for the most part, and displays some great moments of creativity. Suffocation's next drummer Doug Bohn took many cues from his predecessor stylistically, but was able to compliment the crazy guitar work with similarly crazy drumming (including the addition of blast beats) while simultaneously keeping things tight, which was key to the success of Pierced. The Mike Smith of today could drum circles around Doug Bohn (and just about everyone else), but at the time he was simply a bit out of his league when put alongside musicians like Richards, Hobbs and Cerrito.
However, the other member of the rhythm section (if such a word is even appropriate with a band like Suffocation), bassist Chris Richards, more than makes up for the drumming with a performance that, if Breeding the Spawn were not so maligned, would be rightly considered legendary. This album was his debut with Suffocation, and he truly made his mark. The basslines, including some solos such as on "Epitaph of the Credulous," are not only ferociously complex, on par with Cynic or Atheist, but incredibly well thought out, and really fit into the music. For most bands on most albums, the bassist is simply an obligatory instrument which serves to fill the need for low end. The albums Suffocation recorded with Richards, particularly Breeding and Pierced, are some of the few that treat the bass as an equal partner with the guitars, with a voice and character of its own. In my opinion, the Hobbs-Cerrito-Richards trio was the among most lethal and visionary the world of metal has ever known. And one of the greatest pleasures of Breeding (and to a degree a result of its shoddy production) is being able to experience Richards' bass to its fullest extent, albeit at the sacrifice of the other instruments.
It's worth mentioning that Frank's vocal performance on this album is incredible. He sounds different on every album, and this one is closer to his work on the two post-reunion albums in that it's raspy. But simultaneously, it's lower than those two, and less comprehensible (in a good way). It also has a fair amount of reverb which gives it a unique feel to other albums, making it sound closer to the "old school" death metal vocalists like Schuldiner and Vincent.
If I could afford it, I would gladly pay for Suffocation's original lineup to reunite for the sole purpose of rerecording this album from start to finish (and maybe one day I'll get my wish; for now I just have to content myself with the two tracks that have been, "Breeding the Spawn" and "Prelude to Repulsion"). The production is surpassed even by Human Waste -- which was a demo, for crying out loud. But honestly, don't believe all the hype about the production. I've heard worse, for sure. And after a few minutes of listening, possibly coupled with a bit of tinkering on your music player's EQ, you get used to the sound and just get lost in the frenzy.Breeding the Spawn is an amazing gem. From a guitar and bass standpoint, it is probably Suffocation's most advanced work. It displays amazing creativity, a great vocal performance, fantastic riffs and songwriting that keeps you constantly guessing what they're going to pull out next. Discounting the production, it is similar in many ways to its successor, and I think of them almost as companion albums. Both were technical masterpieces and display Suffocation at their most inventive. Where Pierced is a tighter package, with more advanced drumming and more mature songwriting, this album makes up for it in sheer insanity and pure creativity.
To sum up, if you've been avoiding this album because of it's reputation as Suffocation's worst, you're doing yourself a huge disservice. If you listened to it once and thought it sounded like crap, give it another listen (or twelve). In fact, even if you think you just plain hate Suffocation, listen to this album and it might change your opinion. The next time you're cruising your friendly neighborhood record store, skip the tripe from the overhyped copycats of the day and buy this album. It'll probably cost less anyway, and you'll still be listening to it for years after you forgot the name of that other band you were going to buy.
cinedracusio on July 31st, 2007
Highly memorable, albeit uncannily underproduced.
It is really weird to me how so many people praise Effigy Of The Forgotten, Pierced From Within or EVEN that pile of narcoleptic brutality that Despise The Sun is, and neglect this album, actually Suffocation's finest work with Pierced From Within.
Effigy had a damn powerful, trebly recording style; in this album's case, whereas great riffs are buried several times and require some time to decipher, the bass sound is nothing short of spectacular. Beginning Of Sorrow alone, with its excellent bass-driven passage (now THIS is slap-bass, assholes!), is an unforgettable and unforgiving lesson for contemporary death metal bands that dream of nothing but brutality, brutality, brutality, and throw musicianship to oblivion. It's even better than on Pierced From Within! Epitaph Of The Credulous has also top-notch bass sequences. Only Cryptopsy would have fitted the bass in their songs to sound this good.
One thing that got me, say, less enthusiastic about this album was the drum sound. The debut full-length had an enjoyable thick drum sound, but this drum sound gets almost muddy and might get boring. However, absolutely each and every song has killer tempo changes, employing all sorts of mid-paced, thrashy or blasting possible (without Cryptopsy's blast-fests, but a fair amount of technicality anyway).
The riffs are excellent, beyond any doubt. I just guess that this is Suffocation's most accomplished album in terms of riffing. The patterns that these "death metal cats" employed are their most difficult, chock full of serpentine rhythmic guitar performances (Marital Decimation has never felt this good!), and rich guitar progressions that are damn close to jazz standards (we are not talking Cephalic Carnage "let's do it as wacky as possible" deal here). Beginning Of Sorrow was the first piece of Suffocation ever to reach my ears, and I would never forget the riff in the beginning. Breeding The Spawn has also screwy interferring guitar melodies in the beginning (memorable, despite the annoying drum sound).
Frank Mullen gave a fine performance here, anticipating the one on Pierced From Within, less grunted than on the debut, but still undecipherable. Now this should be acclaimed as damn influential death metal. Pierced From Within was a refinement of this (longer songs, as far as I'm concerned), and Despise The Sun was just a shadow of their brilliance, but this album sounds as fresh as ever.
As a conclusion, I would advise everyone to grab this stuff (especially beginners who want to hear it done the right way and set standards for their listenings that would be higher than Brodequin or Decrepit Birth, hah). Suck on this as much as you can.
Cheeses_Priced on December 27th, 2004
They seem to be somewhere cold
First things first: famously, the production on this album is not all that it could be. It’s trebly, weirdly-mixed (for lack of a better description), and in some of the more aggressive segments it can be a little… tricky to tell exactly what’s going on. Still, it’s not without its pluses: the bass guitar frequently sticks out as an individual voice, and tone is generally preserved better than it was on Effigy of the Forgotten (which sometimes sounds like indistinct thumping in spite of what’s going on with the guitars; clarity was sacrificed for “heaviness”). To some extent, it’s sort of nice to have a “different”-sounding album in Suffocation’s back catalog, just for variety’s sake.
Overall, it’s not actually such a big deal once you let your ears adjust. If the production “ruins” this album for you, you don’t deserve to enjoy it anyway. Frankly, I don’t want you reading my prose either. Go away.
If you want to understand the appeal of this band, the title track of this album is as good a place to direct your ears as any. Have you seen director David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly? If not, I recommend that you do so – aside from being an excellent movie on its own, it will allow you to better comprehend the following simile: the first few moments of the song “Breeding the Spawn” sound like what you’d get if you sent two (or more?) distinct riffs through a telepod together, yielding some horrible, twitching, barely-alive monstrosity of death metal guitar playing whose mere existence is a blasphemy against creation. A lot of Suffocation’s better moments are in that vein. They tend to be pretty good about not playing the exact same bar of music over and over again – but neither do they shift about at random – instead, they deliberately mangle the hell out of whatever it is that they’re playing as they go, offering a number of variations of each idea, making for music with a real sense of depth and complexity.
Suffocation’s predecessors never approached that style of songwriting, their contemporaries branched in different directions, and their (many) followers have tended to degenerate into technical abstraction, in a hopeless game of one-upmanship – or else turned to hip-hop grooves. You will seldom hear this style of metal done as well as it’s accomplished here.
The first half of the album was mostly written by Doug Cerrito, the latter half mostly by Terrance Hobbes. It makes for a slight shift in tone and feel – broadly speaking, Cerrito’s music is more deliberately convoluted (the aforementioned title track is his) while Hobbes’ songs are somewhat more experimental in aesthetic and “melody”. Check 1:17 of “Anomalistic Offerings” for an interesting example of the latter. Perhaps also worth mentioning is the presence of solos from both guitar players in all of Suffocation’s music, as solos have largely been forsaken by the newer generation of brutal death metal bands.
Vocalist Frank Mullen sounded a tad different every time the band released an album. Back on Effigy of the Forgotten he barked like a muzzled animal, while by the time Pierced from Within came around, he was sounding nearly-coherent, if as gravelly as ever. On Breeding he’s a little closer to yelling than he is anywhere else; you get the impression he’s using English words, but without consulting the lyric sheet it’s impossible to be certain.
Anyhow, enough said. “Comeback album” possibly excepted, Suffocation’s music has been consistently high-quality, so other than a possible minor black mark on account of the production, this is about as good as anything else they’ve ever done, or anything else in death metal for that matter. If you only listen to one brutal death metal band, this one’s probably a good choice.
Metalli_Priest on March 6th, 2004
Why the Production? WHY?!
The title pretty much says it all: the production is absolutely shit and does nothing to enhance the music in anyway. Sometime crappy production does help to give an album an edge, take three quarters of the black metal genre for instance or perhaps the first megadeth album. But hell, the production on ‘Breeding the Spawn’ is very weak and kind of just combines all the different elements Suffocation has created and just turned it into a big mash.
If you can listen past the production blur, you will find that most of the songs on offer here are your typical Suffocation; quite brutal, technical death metal, although slightly less thrashy than their previous efforts. The drumming is pretty much flawless while maintaining suffocation’s usual amount of diversity. The riffs are bludgeoning; varying from slow chugging riffs to almost hyper-speed blasts. The bass is mixed into the sound, and is inaudible some of the time, but often jumps out when it is playing separately from the guitar. Last but not least: the Vocals! I have always been a fan of Frank Mullen: Guttural, deep, yet his twisted lyrics are delivered with a great amount of variation and conviction.
The first two songs, in particular, the title track, are probably the strongest on this album, although a re-recorded version is found on ‘Pierced From Within’ which is truly excellent and it shows you how this album would have sounded, had it not been plagued by a horrid production.
A very diverse album that would be a fantastic listen that you would never get bored of hearing if it was for the production! Damn, production will be the bane of Heavy Metal! Not a must buy, but still a very, very decent album jam packed with very good death metal; although well worth the $14AU I paid for it!
Breeding the Spawn track list
|1||Beginning of Sorrow||04:16|
|2||Breeding the Spawn||04:47|
|3||Epitaph of the Credulous||03:45|
|5||Prelude to Repulsion||04:49|
|7||Ornaments of Decrepancy||04:42|
Breeding the Spawn lineup