Akerfeldt_Fanboi on August 23rd, 2009
Something is Lacking...
But it sure as hell isn't the riffs. Holy shit, some people actually complain about this album? It sounds like Pierced From Within with a perfect production and mix, but slowed down a bit and less technical.
If you ask me, this is the perfect Suffocation sound, just not the best album they've done. I mean, I do love the grindy beefy tone on Effigy of the Forgotten, but the guitar tone on this album is perfectly sludgy and grinding enough to be brutal.
The production cuts everything into this super mucky, but still kind of clean, and heavy wall of brutality that Suffocation sound perfect for. Comparatively, the ultra low-end of Effigy of the Forgotten is welcome, but becomes tiring, and the super tight mix of Blood Oath follows the same.
So, the album; the guitars and drums drive this album, leaving the vocals then the almost inaudible but nonetheless suitable bass to fight over dominance. For the vocals, we're talking Frank Mullen here, he's super articulate but still guttural...his lyrics are another thing, this album has some bad lyrics, and usually Suffocation has excellent psychological lyrics at play, but not here.
The guitars are built around that sludgy, but still grinding, distortion. The rhythm guitars follow the usual Suffocation formula, but since that formula is so well put together and executed, there is nothing to complain about; you will feel no complacency listening to this album. The lead tone is high and shrieky, but still fluid and thick enough to be smooth sounding. The playing is similar to the tone, gritty but still fluid, dark but yet melodic and beautiful (especially for shredding death metal solos). The bass is virtually inaudible, except when listening through a rather impressive sound system, or large headphones.
The drumming is, more or less, perfection. Mike Smith proves every album that he holds one of the crowns of death metal, superb drumming. He knows exactly when to place an ultra fast double bass fill or an intense blast section to bridge those brilliant Hobbs riffs. His kit also sounds really great, his snare sounds a little loose but that's not a huge issue. He holds his own when it comes to fills as well, absolutely slaying his tom skins.
Now, the songs and songwriting; like I said in the guitar section, Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais have perfected the Suffocation sound and injected every song with a dose of epic brutality and craftsmanship. Every song perpetuates itself around a riff theme, whether it is tremolo or chugging, the songs generally follow a certain thematic progression, until finally concluding in an ultra heavy and brutal slam breakdown; or into a mind-bending solo followed by a chorus, but whatever.
So, we've already discussed the musical aspects and technical aspects of this album. Now, how does the album as a whole hold up? Well, considering it’s Suffocation, listening to an entire album is virtually pointless, as these songs only translate well to the live setting or for a group listen with friends. The style of brutality lends itself better to casual listens, but is still a bit tedious after five or six songs.
This album is definitely recommended to any and all Suffocation fans, and is easily their best since Pierced From Within. Don't buy that lame Breeding the Spawn stuff, delve into the cleaner, slower Suffocation and see that real power and ferocity lies behind it.
- Best production Suffocation ever has or has had
- Great slow churning riffs and heavy-ass blasting sections
- Vocals are phenomenal
- Superb drumming
- Excellent Suffo-patented songwriting
- Abomination Reborn
- Formulaic songwriting
- Lyrics are shoddier than usual
- Lack of slams and really phenomenal solos.
As you can see, the pros heavily outweigh the cons. Buy this album, because it's really that good.
eddgore on May 4th, 2009
Slower than the others, but brutal as ever.
I love this album. Not just because I have been a Suffocation fan for more than 7 years now, but because this album is unique in its own ways and still is a breath of fresh air as compared to a countless number of brutal/tech death bands that are popping up from every part of the globe. Even if you consider the bands that have been around for a long time.
This is a release that will not impress a Suffocation fan on the first listen, let alone blow one away. But that does not mean that it is a bad release. One difference that you can see very clearly on this album is that the overall playing speed of the band has slowed down considerably compared to say, Despise the Sun. That may put one of on the initial listens. But on listening to it for the third or fourth time, one will definitely notice the roots of Suffocation. It is still brutal as fuck, has considerable time signatures, long solos, out of the world drumming and classic Frank Mullen vocals.
What it doesn't have is speed. But that gives a new meaning to Brutal Death altogether. Suffocation still retain the raw energy that they have always had(even before breaking up). Songs like 'Blind Torture Kill', 'Entrails Of You' and old song 'Prelude To Repulsion' are some of the songs that will go on to become death metal classics in the future. Not to mention that Suffocation will re-record the whole Breeding the Spawn album song by song in its following releases(Marital Decimation is coming up in the next album Blood Oath) to make up for the bad production that the album has. A smart move indeed. On to the album, the single 'Abomination Reborn' and the track with melodic introduction, 'Redemption', are mass destructors.
If one has to enjoy this release, he ought to be open minded. People expecting the same stuff that they did way back in the past is stupid in its own sense. Music is something that needs to be experimented with(at least a little bit) to widen the horizons of mind, of self and the listener.
Duisterling on April 5th, 2009
This is an Easter bunny
Apparently, I am not the only one who bought this without digging into it to see if it was really worth the money. Not really surprising, because hey, it says ‘Suffocation’ on various sides of the package, so what could go wrong? To give the predictable answer to my rhetorical question: a whole fucking lot. This release suffers from multiple blunt force traumas and I have to admit, that only hit me after a reasonable amount of spins. It is one of those typical albums that seem good because you think they have to be good, since its band X or Y and they have always been awesome, so they still are. It also seems to be good, because it is good on the surface, something like a big chocolate Easter bunny. Looks all too great until you chop an ear of and hey, fuck me, the bitch is hollow. And then you take another good look at the outside and it is actually makes sense that a 10 or 12 inch bunny is hollow. So let’s take a bite out of this deceiving disc of chocolate Easter metal.
The main problem here is, in my experience, the production. It is very clear, I’d almost say crystal clear, although it is not as polished as say, nowadays Behemoth (Pol). Of course, this can be excellent and I know a lot of brutal death and/or tech death releases that are almost rendered worthless due to the muddy, muted productions. It could have been a step in the right direction for Suffocation, but apparently, they lost their balance and ended up misplacing their foot. So this is the first element that seems to be right, but actually is wrong, because when they gained the clarity, they gave up the following essentials.
First of all, it’s loose sand. The instruments don’t connect with each other, the sound is not a coherent wall of music, there’s no real body to it. This also makes that sometimes riffs or drum patterns/fills seem out of place or downright strange, because they pack a certain atmosphere or amount of heaviness that is not backed up by anything properly. The earlier Suffocation releases might have been muddy, ‘over-cemented’, but they now scraped away all the cement between the bricks and the wall tends to come down.
Next problem is the overall atmosphere. This has also got to do with the production, and it very much reminds me of the 2007 ‘Sworn to the Dark’ album by Watain. Yes, I know Watain is black metal, but both albums suffer from the same production problem. It is really hard to put my finger on the exact cause, and I only know that the ultimate effect is a soulless, bored sound. The riffs are, in a way, too perfect, the music is too predictable. Not that I can exactly tell when a solo will kick in, for example, but nothing is surprising either, everything is just as it is ‘supposed to be’, which makes it very uninteresting.
Parallel with this problem is the bored sound. There are two causes to that: first of all, the overall sound (again), and secondly the fairly mid-paced character of the album. Both guitars and their riffs sound powerless and don’t only bore me because of their lack of energy, but also bother me because it sounds as if the musicians themselves were bored when playing this. Band members, half lying, half sitting on a couch, lazily chugging away some riffs on their guitars, images of that nature come to mind. They even somehow succeeded in making fast parts sound slower than they actually are. But to summarize the issue: no passion, no fire, no aggression, nothing.
And that brings us to the vocals. A glimmer of light, an element of sole positivity? Not entirely. Of course, this guy certainly has a respectable throat, but the sound of the growls is very generic. They too suffer from boredom, but my main problem with them is the forced sound. They don’t seem to roll and gurgle out easily as with many other vocalists and that makes it an unpleasant listen. I know this seems far-fetched and you’ll probably say he has proven his worth since many full-lengths, but still, it’s just the sound it has and neither his name, nor the band’s is gonna change that. Another production might, though.
Now that I am nearing the end, I am obliged to state the obvious before closing it up. And that is, of course, this still is Suffocation, and all individual members still show great skill on their instruments and that is very clear nonetheless. I’d also like to stress again that this album is not at all entirely devoid of good riffing and good songs, but they’re simply not done justice, which is a huge turnoff.
It might be a fact that many bands nowadays release music that are deemed as Suffocation worship (funny, how death metal bands are mostly said to be ‘worshipping’ the great names of the genre, while black metal bands are ‘cloning’. Conceptually speaking, it would make more sense the other way around), but I sincerely hope this isn’t setting a new trend. Due to its open, accessible sound, this might be a great album for those new to death metal and its subgenres, but for the more experienced (death) metalheads, I’d say this is superfluous, especially because of the earlier Suffocation works.
WhiteBoyFunk on April 28th, 2008
Another 'Enemy of God'
I hate to bash on one of the bands that I have the most utmost respect for, but I feel that it benefits the community, the new listener and the band. With that aside, I was sorely disappointed by this album.
After input and some hearsay about seriously brutal, technical and all out strong releases from the 90's along with a soundbyte of 'Funeral Inception', I picked up my first Suffocation album roughly five years ago with Roadrunner's 'Two from the Vault' collection including 'Effigy of the Forgotten' and 'Pierced from Within.' Definitely classics and worthy of their following. Shortly after that, I fell victim to the strong return 'Souls to Deny.' I wouldn't quite classify it as the same Suffoction from before, but it was well written, heavy and fast.
Not long ago the depressing self-titled release from Suffocation fell into my FYE bag on a cd spree. Typically upon first listen I tend not to be overly judgemental of music nor do I like to make predictions of what I will hear less I be disappointed or critical. With this cd though, I had a hard time enjoying the music OR believing it had been done by the legendary US death metal yankees once I popped it in.
This album is plagued by what unfortunately haunts our worst nightmares; influence of gnu-metal. It hovers through every song like steam in a bathroom of a horror film. The point at which I could I tell I was in for a real turd rather than treat, was seconds into the 'Abomination Reborn' track. It sounds like Godsmack attempted real metal, and the music video makes that analogy fitting moreso.
I fear the band is shifting fanbase with this release. Days of chug-chug beefy yet technical rhythm, and solos that destroy are in the past with the Suffocation disography.
I wouldn't say avoid this album at all costs. But for the diehard death metal fan like myself, I recommend picking up some modern thrash or finding something new in a local music shop over this. For the newbie to death metal it wouldn't be a terrible recommendation, although I would push toward the first disc that hooked me with this band of the past.
Five_Nails on December 14th, 2007
Suffocation- Reinventing the Brutal Technical Deat
I am a brutal death metal fan, so when Suffocation’s new self-titled release hit the shelves, I was more than happy to get it. When I had first bought the release, though, I only knew the band by the Human Waste release, and I was kind of skeptical because though in 1990 the band had much potential, I naively thought that the production quality would be the same as on Human Waste or the band would have lost their passion for music, and would be a little weak on this disc. I was totally wrong. After purchasing this release, I also bought Effigy of the Forgotten and Pierced from Within, both of which have refined songs from the Human Waste release, and I can truthfully say that Suffocation has progressed both technically and brutally at this stage of their careers.
The opening to the disc is a long guitar whine for a little more than thirty seconds breaking into their single Abomination Reborn. This song begins with heavy destructive drumming, and sustains with heavy drum blast beats throughout. Frank Mullen’s growls, though not containing the high-pitched screams as other death metal outfits, sustains a level of anger and holds the listener’s attention with lyrics that are more discernable than those of other vocalists like Glen Benton from Deicide. These vocals though are very brutal coupled with the music and the drum fills make up for any time without vocals. The song breaks down into a slower ballad of death wrought on the ears at 1:00, but the solos both melodic and haunting make up for the slow-down of tempo, only to pick up again at 2:34 and kick into another set of blast beats and then go into another change where it becomes more catchy and even more brutal, then more blast beats to end the song.
Redemption kicks in with a haunting acoustic section building to a kick in with drums and bass as well as guitar which begin to accompany the vocals with blast beats making Mullen’s gutturals even more insane. The drumming and sound quality throughout is amazing, not missing a note, and production value is top notch. This song also features a slow-down, brutal, still feeling rather new, and the lyrics grab attention severely with lyrics including “pain, murder, genocide”.
Bind Torture Kill begins with a brutal ballad about one of the most notorious killers of the past few generations. This song is rather long compared to the others, but none less brutal, since it is about binding, torturing and killing. This follows a somewhat different formula including less blast beats, more filler in the drums, and more consistency with every part of the song. There are no solos in this part, but it does not get any boring at all. This one also slows down, but moves into a technical balance of hatred and brutal death metal. Lunacy sets into the song near the end, but it is controlled as it picks up, then slows again into what can only be described as the rant of a psychotic in Mullen’s vocals as the music backs the vocals up to the end of the song which picks up and drops steam again then finally picks up to a solo to finish out the song.
Track five: Misconceived begins with the guitars and brings drums with the vocals. This one slows at 1:13 and brings a heavy set of guitars and slows further and further as this symphony of death describes the psychosis more and more. This assault on the ears is so low that all the notes are too low to be heard without a sub woofer. The song picks up at 2:30 and stays with a strong tempo with frequent blast beats from the drums and becomes a great song to head bang to.
Translucent Patterns of Delirium is the only song that I vehemently oppose on this disc, and this is saying a lot because I normally like every song on many of the death metal releases I buy, even though I scrutinize much of the music. This song, though it shows a distinctive effort by every member of the band, has some very weak lyrics. These lyrics are so weak that I normally skip this song every time I listen to this disc. This song really hurts the cd in general, and though I hate to do it, I must reflect this song in my overall score.
Creed of the Infidel, on the other hand, is a very well done song with heavy guitars, blast beats, bass is very prevalent and the drum fills help the vocals as the rest of the band tapers off in some points of the song. The chorus of the song has a catchy feel with technical and fast guitars all around it. As the song progresses, a few solos are introduced with very well-done drum blasts to accompany and enhance the solos. This is one of the heaviest songs, with heavy subject matter also that I have heard in a while.
Track eight is Regret which is a fast song that sounds like some earlier death metal in the beginning but takes on a whole new sound as it begins to go into the vocals. In this song, the drums are not as big as the bass and guitars. The drums serve as some filler, but bass and down tuned guitars is what they seem to have been going for in this one to accompany the vocals. A whiny guitar section begins around the center of the song which gives it a unique perspective, but it quickly disappears into featuring blast beats and bass hammering as Mullen says “You turn cold, as I take, from you, one, last, kiss” leaving a haunting guitar, bass, and drum crash to end the song.
Entrails of You features quick guitars and the ever-popular drum and vocal adjoining to create a haunting chorus early on with the down tuned guitars working overtime. A solo begins at 0:59 and leads into the next section of lyrics, a repeat of the opening, the vocal and drum set, and another slower section. The section with whiney guitars and Mullen’s voice coming through them like screams through blood is haunting, brutal, and a favorite section of mine because it could easily be played while carving someone up. This is a very powerful song, and is one of the most haunting and well-done tracks on this release.
The End of Ends comes up after Entrails of You’s quiet and haunting ending with loud, fast drums, guitars, bass, and finally Mullen’s voice to complete the cycle. This is another good song, though tough to understand the vocals at times because the guitars and drums cover the vocals. This is reminiscent of older Suffocation, and goes into another destructive section that features some pretty constant drum hammering, that holds the ears at bay and wanting more in the assault. The song picks up again after a time of silence and only drumming into another set of psychotic destruction that rips the head to shreds with another set of slow guitars and fast drumming that covers everything else at times.
The final track of this release is Prelude to Repulsion, a well done fast track to end the cd with. It goes immediately into a brutal technical sound with some weaker sounding vocals from Mullen, but they do increase in quantity. They are less discernable, and he sounds like he has some laryngitis, but the vocals do contribute greatly to the song. The music is consistent throughout until the breakdown at the end, the guitars are quick and very technical with good leads, the drums have great fills and destructive blasts, and this is an all around good and psychotic way to end the disc.
In all, this was a great release from Suffocation, but the disc fails greatly in the song Translucent Patterns of Delirium. This was a massive let down of a song, and really shakes up the great start of the disc. There is great production quality, the drums and other instruments are not too loud, and the vocals can easily be pushed away in order to hear the other instruments. This is one of Suffocations best releases to date, and hopefully there is more of this to come.
Suggested Songs: Abomination Reborn
Bind Torture Kill
Entrails of You
Creed of the Infidel
Invaginator on June 16th, 2007
I'm slowly digging this release...after one year
It was only 2 years since Suffocation released 'Soul to Deny', and Suffocation already release in 2006 another Full Lenght, simply 'Suffocation'. And I was more than just curious what it would sound like, and I just didn't know what to expect. 'Souls to Deny' kinda disappointed me, there was actually no Brutal Death Metal in the sound of Suffocation anymore, and except for a few songs, the record was just a good Death Metal release, not like the previous Suffocation releases, being milestones in the history of Brutal and Technical Death Metal - 'Effigy of the Forgotten', 'Pierced From Within and 'Despise the Sun'. Those all were the releases which made Suffocation kings of the scene, and 'Souls to Deny' was a step back. So it happened to be that 'Suffocation' was one of the most expected releases in years; every new information about the release, the cover, and the songs was gold worth, and pre-orders just jumped from 1 to 100.000.
And then came the day Suffocation was about to seal the fate. For most fans of Suffocation this is a great release, not missing anything they had expected, but to me it misses the actual "Suffocation". To be dead-fucking-honest - this release doesn't move any of my limbs as the previous did; this release doesn't generate a world of musical carnage and surgery as the once before; and this release doesn't bring me to bang my head to it and growl the lyrics. No, this release is far away from a real Suffocation opus. This is a good, better than mediocre release in Death Metal, but Suffocation have spent too much time being away from the scen, and this has reflected on their music as well.
Like I used to enjoy in the prelude of "Torn Into Enthrallment", there is no joy in the prelude of "Redemption" on 'Suffocation'. Most of the songs seem to remind me of other band's songs, like I heard it all before, and it never stops. The most recent Suffocation release is though a good, more than just mediocre Death Metal release, in a sea of Death Metal releases, this one is among the ones who will be remembered, but among a handfull of great releases, Suffocation's 'Suffocation' won't be. The release lacks any groundbreaking innovations, chords, ideas or just the spirit of a great release. I know I can't expect them to do only great records, release after release, but then they should call it a day, and do as some great bands did - just leave the scene as long as they are still one of the best bands. But it might be due to the record label - Relapse being one of those who have mostly sellings in mind, not the quality of the music.
ozzeh on April 22nd, 2007
Music to my ears.
Having lost my entire hard drive due to reasons unknown, I was left to listen to some older albums of mine. This is one CD which is undeniably underplayed in my death metal collection. Suffocation have made a modern day death metal gem. It appears as though they tried to step into the shoes of the most depraved beings on the planet : the BTK killer and songs with terrorism references. The result is a very heavy, death metal assault led by Mike Smith's ungodly drumming.
About Mike Smith's drumming, he seems to purposefully play some of the rhythms in a very non-standard way and the result is refreshing. For example, the song "Bind Torture Kill" has some very unique drum patterns which you're not likely to find on any other death metal release. When the tandem of Guy Marchais and Terrance Hobbs speed up their riffing from apocalyptic strumming to shredding guitar solos, the results are as unique and original as Mike Smith's drumming. The guitars are tuned down considerably, but in contrast to the very audible bass lines and the frenetic drumming of Mike Smith, the lower tuned guitars fit the music perfectly.
There seems to be a lack of solos on this album on first listen, but that is not an issue because it is neutralized by the fact that the riffs are incredible technical and mind bending. The riffs, in conjunction with Frank Mullen's incredibly articulated and coherent death metal vocals, form a violent canvas for these technical death metal masters to work with. Even when they try slower doom-like riffs on "Misconceived", the results are excellent, because they know when to speed it up just the right amount at just the right time. And that is what separates the upper echelon technical death metal bands from the wannabes. The time and effort these guys put into this album really shows on every single song, every time signature change is very well thought out.
The first half of the album is purely acidic in nature. This is Suffocation at their most pissed off. The lyrics for the most part are very well written, even to the gore themed "Entrails of You". At the end of the day, it's Frank's excellent vocals, incredibly tight riffing, equally tight bass playing and drumming from outer fucking space which make this album a classic. Luckily for the listener, the second half is just as good as the first half.
Songs like "Regret" feature some insanely technical riffs accompanied by insane drumming. The last three songs on the album are all awesome as well : "Entrails Of You", "The End Of Ends" and "Prelude To Repulsion" are all as enjoyable as anything on the first half of the album. So does it have it's flaws? Sure, some of the songs seem a bit repetitive. But honestly, I can't find a single song which isn't way above average. Sometimes you wish they'd play more solos, but when they play solos like on "Creed of the Infidel" it makes them just that much more enjoyable. After neglecting this CD for a few months, I am kicking myself in the ass after listening to it again because it is just that fucking good. If you like brutal/technical death metal of the highest order with insane instrumentation and apocalyptic lyrics, look no further.
thinkpad20 on March 24th, 2007
Just doesn't quite do it for me...
I just want to start by saying I am a huge Suffocation fan, as will be very apparent in my review... but that's why I have to be honest on this one.
Everybody has been raving about this album, but I think this has more to do with the disappointment that a lot of people felt about "Souls to Deny" rather than the strengths of "Suffocation," the new album. "Souls" had poor production, and drummer Mike Smith was clearly not at the level he had been when he left the band. On the latest effort, Suffocation returns with a crisp, proffesional sound. Objectively, it's probably the best production they've ever had. The mix is not without its flaws, as the guitars tend to become buried under the drums during the blast beats, and the bass is difficult to hear, but all in all the production leaves little to be desired.
Mike Smith shows major improvement from "Souls," especially in the double-bass category, where he went from patchy footwork at middling tempos to incredibly tight runs at speeds that rival the best in the business (listen to the breakdown in the middle of Bind, Torture, Kill to see what I mean). He also has more variety on this album. On "Souls" he pretty much did the exact same fill every single time, but now he mixes it up a lot more, which is a good thing. But I often find myself wishing he would kick up the speed a notch or two. Suffocation hasn't ever been known to rely on excessive speed to get their point across, but a lot of times the music just seems to demand a bit more speed than it gets. Smith is obviously capable of it, so I wish he would just let it rip sometimes.
The writing on this album is some of the most ferocious Suffocation we've heard in a long time. Mullen screams with relentless fury. Smith beats the shit out of his drums. There are probably more "chugs" than on just about any previous Suffocation release. They sound plain old pissed off, and it comes across well. However, I still prefer Mullen's vocals prior to "Souls." There's a bit improvement from that album, but he needs to go lower. Once again, he's obviously capable of it, as he gets really low sometimes, but he should do it more.
But what I find hidden under this facade of ferocity is a hint of desperation on this album. To me, Suffocation seems like they're struggling to write their own material. While the music is angry and unrelenting, it lacks the artistry that Suffocation displayed on masterpieces such as "Pierced from Within" and "Despise the Sun," and it lacks the sheer primal brutality to be found on "Effigy of the Forgotten." One thing noticably missing are the characteristic "Suffocation runs," as I like to call them, where a riff is ended with a strange twisting pattern that just makes you want to grin and bang your head. These runs abound on "Pierced" and also "Despise," but are pretty much nowhere on "Suffocation." The riffs now sound more stale, there is just one riff after another with no real sense of progression. There is still Suffocation weirdness to be found, but a lot of times it sounds like they're trying to be weird for the sake of being weird, instead of having it add to the music. The individual riffs don't really seem to have their own identities, instead they just sort of blend together. There are few memorable riffs on this album, few things where I can say to my friends, "you know that part, in that song, where it goes like this? I frickin love that part!"
One major problem is the excess of repetition on this album. Riffs appear several times within a single song, with little or no variation, resulting in a verse-chorus type feel a la Cannibal Corpse. While the songs clearly aren't seperable into verses and choruses, certain riffs tend to appear multiple times throughout the song, with the same vocal patterns and lyrics over them, resulting in a sense of predictability that the aforementioned albums did not have. While the earlier Suffocation albums constantly surprise me, even after I've listened to them countless times, I tend to get bored rather fast listening to this album.
This predictability also extends into the song structure. Every song can generally be broken up into "fast parts" and "slow parts." It's almost like they sat there with a sheet of paper and said, "OK, we'll have three fast riffs, then a pause, then a breakdown, then go back to a fast riff, repeat, then solo, etc. Great! Next song!" The earlier albums would always keep you guessing - just listen to the title track of "Pierced," for example. The riffs swirl and twist as if in some strange dance, and you never know what they're going to do next. Time signatures change with no warning, and the same riff is almost never played the same way twice. But on this album, you can guess with pretty sure certainty every time. The time signatures usually only change when the riff changes, which leads to songs sounding like a sequence of parts rather than a connected whole.
It's also clear to me that the loss of Chris Richards was a major blow for the rhythm section. Derek Boyer can hold his own, and he knows his way around the instrument, but he never really adds to the music. As especially evident on "Pierced," Richards had a special talent for creating basslines which distinguished themselves from the rest of the music. Not only were they technically crazy but they provided a third voice while simultaneously keeping the low end heavy. Boyer provides the necessary low end, but I never find myself really listening to the bass, as is often the case with Richard's material.
Suffocation's latest release is brutal, fun to listen to, and certainly kicks your ass live - I can attest to that. It is also a major improvement over Souls to Deny, primarily because of the production. There are also some real standout tracks, especially the last three, "Entrails of You," "End of Ends" and "Prelude to Repulsion," which is actually a rerecording of a track from "Breeding the Spawn." But it just doesn't seem to have that spark that the earlier material does. I honestly view masterpieces such as Effigy, Pierced, or Despise as works of supreme artistry as well as brutality, but I don't feel the same way about this album. Overall, it's certainly worth the money, but I think it's going to find a lot less time in my CD player than Suffocation's earlier works.
planiol on March 16th, 2007
Of all the Suffocation albums thus far, this one probably has the most slow parts. That’s not a bad thing, as all their slow parts are crushing. Mike Smith, who basically invented the style of blast beat drumming for brutal death metal, refuses to overdo it like every other drummer in that genre these days. This is one thing that separates Suffocation from all the Suffocation rip-offs.
The vocals are also noteworthy on this album. Frank still sounds as pissed and brutal as ever, but you can actually understand what he’s saying. That’s because he doesn’t cup the microphone as often. This is a contrast to their older stuff, like Effigy of the Forgotten. I can listen to that whole album and not understand a word. Being able to hear what he’s saying on this album is cool because it allows you to sing along in the car.
The music on this album is top-notch. There are awesome fast parts and awesome slow parts. There is one slow part in particular on “Blind Torture Kill” that’s VERY heavy. They switch things up often, but not so much that they are just all over the place. Hobbs does some kind of weird noise guitar solo on “Blind Torture Kill” that is reminiscent of Kerry King. But it’s tastefully done. It sounds crazy but not obnoxious. And one really awesome part on the album is the clean guitar intro to “Redemption.” It’s pretty (yes, a pretty part on a Suffocation album) and sounds as though it came from old school Metallica (i.e. “Call of Ktulu”).
For the last song on the album, the band re-recorded “Prelude to Repulsion.” So if you are one of those people who whine about the bad sound on Breeding the Spawn, here's a song from Breeding the Spawn recorded with better sound.
Just try to listen to this album without head banging. It gets more impossible to do after you’ve heard it a few times and know where the really cool parts are.
If you don’t have this one already, GET IT! And if you have never seen this band play live, GO SEE THEM!
Highlights: Redemption, Blind Torture Kill, Code of the Infidel, Entrails of You.
lord_ghengis on March 13th, 2007
Unsettling and Grity
Don't get me wrong, I love this album, but it's quality is being talked up a little bit. Yes, the production is good. Everything is clear, and if separated everything would sound great. However the mix here is shit. The guitars are weak as piss when compared to the drums. Basically, when Mike Smith is blasting, you can't hear much in the way of riffs. It's hardly punishing, and has a few too many slow sections. Really about 60% of this album is in 'slow-and-scary' mode. Suffocation do pull these sections off flawlessly, but there's too many.
Honestly, I feel that Souls to Deny had a better mix, with the muddy drums losing their ability to fill up the entirity of the ugly assed soundscape that Suffocation make so well, so there's a big tick on production sound and clarity, but the mix is a fail. With that said, the guitars are audible for most of the album, they just get lost in the faster drumming.
This is technical death metal at it's gritiest and meanest. The riffs, instead of being pummeling and brutal, tend to have a grotty, and for the lack of a better word, deathly sound to them. The production is great on the guitars, and they do sound perfect. And yes, there is technicality galore here, as well as a very original style. The guitars have basically no chugging, or powerful sounds, instead most of the guitars have a very windy sound with a shit load of different notes being played one after the other. Basically, the only problem to be found is their weak sound in the mix. With a weak guitar sound, obviously, the bass has little hope, with it only being audible for a few moments during the slower breaks where everything cuts out for a second or two, but note I can't hear bass, so I may be way off here.
Mike smith is both a positive and a negative. Here he's made himself known as a incredible drummer, capable of matching the guitars in sheer strange technicality during the slow sections, delivering a powerful standard beat when needed, and blasting like a madman at strange, and somehow oddly fitting times. I mean listen to Redemption about 3 and a half minutes in, it's not too fast, and a full speed blastbeat should not work there, but somehow it does. Unfortunatly, Joe Cincotta got a little too excited by the fact that Smith kicks so much ass here, and that the band learned how to produce clear drums and made them sound stupidly loud. Hell, listen to the section of music I told you to a few sentances ago. As the section is repeated, you can actually hear the guitars get turned down lower for about two repetitions, before fading in again. Seriously, you can't hear anything else. The problem is, there's a bunch of things like that all over this album. And some of the blastbeats over the slow parts just don't work. Particularily those which have vocals in them, ie "Translucent Patterns of Delerium".
Speaking of vocals, Suffocation brings us Frank Mullen, a man whose photo's in the booklet fit every sterotypical tough guy description in history, yet a man who has a voice which is like no others. I'm not sure if it's got the brutality which others have alluded to, but it does sound fucking intense, and is in a way more unsettling than the most gutteral of gutteral growls, because it is just so strange and well, it's deranged, in the most homicidal way imaginable. He does cup the mic quite often, which if you ask me sounds like yelling into an empty paint can, but it does break up the approach, so I guess it's needed. As others have said, his lyrics are less, "I cut your face off with my penis wrapped in sandpaper" and more "Why am I cutting your face off with my penis wrapped in sandpaper". which is a nice idea, but often it's not overly effective. As Mullen is hardly a psychiatrist, and doesn't seem to be able to think of much better than "My father once told me/Shut up/shut Up".
Most of the songs have pretty similar musical ideas, but are clearly different songs, and due to this, all the songs are very good, and somehow, they're not overly tiring. The only real problem that I've come accross is that the frequent slow downs do get a little tiresome. Soon enough you can predict that things are going to start off with a mid to fast paced beginning, things will get heavier and heavier, and then, everything will stop, the guitar work will get weird, with strange sounding shit going on, some of it very headbangable, while other parts are weird and technical for the sake of confusing people who can't play instruments, and making ones who can ejaculate.
Overall, this is an incredible album, with a few, unfortunatly very annoying mix problems holding it back. There's no real standout songs as everything is great. In fact, the only songs which do retain higher place in memory are because of trivial reasons, rather than being musically better than the others. Redemption has a cool intro, Translucent Patterns of Delirium has a stupid lyric, interestingly enough, both those songs the most drum overload problems on the album. Also you have Bind Torture Kill and Entrails of You which have choruses which are memorable more for lyrics, than for catchy vocal lines or riffs. The album is easy as hell to find, hell, all three of the music chains in my town have it, I even think I saw it in Target, and trust me, it's worth the money. With only two flaws, the mix and the goddamn sticker on the case, fuck me that thing is the flimsiest piece of shit ever made. It cannot be removed. See, it's so good I have to look at stickers to find any real negatives.
HeySharpshooter on December 5th, 2006
A Powerful Release
Suffocation. Within the Death Metal Underground, it is a name synonymous with technicality, brutality, and legendary releases. Suffocation didnt become Death Metals "most plagerized band" by wallowing in mediocrity; the Suffo boys are the real fucking deal. One listen to Effigy of the Forgotten or Pierced From Within more than proves it. But after the band reformed and released Souls to Deny, an experimental and somewhat misunderstood release, many fans were skeptical about the future of Suffocation. And it seems with the bands new s/t album, the concerns of the fanbase were heard lound and clear: Suffocation are back to crushing skulls.
The first thing that struck me about this album is the production. Its extremely clean and very clear, a stark contrast to Breeding the Spawn. The vocals and drums are much more in the mix, the bass audible, and the riffs much clearer. My hat goes off the producer: technicality like this needs to be heard, not muted.
Of course, all that is secondary to the music. In this department, any more progressive or adventerous elements that the band may have had are thrown out the window for Suffocation. Guitarists Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais are fucking machines; each of the 5 billion riffs on this album are the definition of technicality or brutality. Seriously, listen to the riffs on songs like "Redemption" or "Entrails of You" and tell me this shit is not Death Metal guitar playing at its finest moment? Mike Smith also has his best performance behind the kit yet; he improves with age, growing only faster and more intense. I must also the say the bass performance of Derek Boyer is very impressive. Fast, technical, and low, just like I like it. And thanks to the slick production, the Smith/Boyer rhythm section make a much larger impact. As for vocalist Frank Mullen's performance, which was widely criticised on Souls to Deny, all I can say is welcome back Frank. His performace is excellent; thankfully free from over "brutalization" like on Effigy, the vocals sound real and powerful, and Frank is one of the few vocalists in modern Death Metal that understand the uses of cupping the microphone; moderation.
This s/t album has a lot going for it, but misses the mark a few times. A couple of the songs on this album are snoresville; "The End of Ends" damn near put me to sleep. Also, the lyrics come off 50/50 for me. Mullen must be given credit for thinking outside the box when it come to the lyrics; instead of robotically relating tales of gore, violence, insanity, etc., he tries to express the more thoughtful side of darkness. What are the thoughts going through the killers head, not body part the killer is chewing on. But in the end, it was a failed endeavour. Many of the lyrics come off childish and, dare I say, "Kornish." Its not all bad, but I hope to see this more literary side of Suffocations lyrics come out in the future.
There is little left to be said about Suffocation. Along side such bands as Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Deicide, and Death, Suffocation can be counted as one of the greatest Death Metal bands ever. And if this album is a sign of the future, Suffocation have many more years of destruction and domination ahead of them.
RottingCunt on September 23rd, 2006
After putting out the somewhat dissapointment that was "Souls To Deny" Suffocation have returned with their self-titled to give the Death Metal world a giant lubeless assfuck without the common courtesy of a reacharound. Everything that was lacking on "Souls" is on this album and then some. The songwriting, I am sorry to say, blows away the songwriting on their 2 previous masterpieces "Pierced From Within" and "Despise The Sun".
The dark sounding intro "Oblivion" starts this album off into the hellish vortex which this album soon becomes. To start off the album first brings back memories of their glory days while somehow incorporating a new sound that could somehow be heard on the last album but defined much better on the new self-titled album. It almost feels as if Doug Cerrito took a part in the songwriting but was to humble to take any credit for it. The drumming of Mike Smith is pummeling and varied throughout the album and during his blasting it feels as if a jackhammer is coming through your stereo and hammering away at your skull.. The combined riffing of guitarists Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais is tight,varied and unrelenting and kicks your ass throughout the entire album.
Franks vocals are a definate improvement over the last album as he no longer uses the annoying reverb anymore. He sounds more pissed than he ever has all the while remaining amazingly intelligible. (you almost dont even need a lyric sheet) After "Souls" I doubted Suffocation would ever make another crushing album but man how they fuckin proved me wrong, I cant even pick a favorite or a few favorite songs off this album as each one is pure fucking killer SUFFOCATION!
grind_vengeance on September 15th, 2006
Suffocation proves it once again
I can't lie - after hearing "Souls To Deny," I was a bit disappointed. The songs were well written and brutal, as was to be expected, but the production fell short of impressive - in particular, Frank Mullen's vocals had way too much treble on them, without any bass to reinforce them, so the gutteral pummeling of his growls were lost in the mix. Despite the minor setbacks of their last album, I still patiently awaited the release of their newest full length album, simply titled "Suffocation."
What struck me about the album when I first put it on is that the production improved VASTLY over the last album - the instruments are well mixed as to make each one audible - each of them avoids being overshadowed by the others. The mix on Frank's vocals were brought to absolute perfection - the growls he unleashes on this album are something akin to those of - here goes - a sperm whale beating the shit out of a dinosaur. After seeing them live 4 times in the last 2 years, I've become a huge fan of his vocals, and was anxiously awaiting how they would be represented on their forthcoming release.
The drum production is impeccable - I'm almost positive that triggers were not used on this album, except maybe on the bass drums, but nowadays, who the fuck doesn't trigger the bass drums? Anyway, Mike Smith's drumming was never anything to scoff at (to hear what I mean, listen to the track "Bind Torture Kill") it's always been precise, driving, and diverse. In an interview with Ruthless Reviews (which, for some reason, was taken off the site) he claimed (in short) that constant blasting was killing death metal drumming, in that it allows for very little variation. To combat this phenomenon, he lets loose a barriage of different rhythms, which, while complex, are never short of pounding. Somehow he manages to balance technical proficiency with utter aggression, and the result is simply astounding.
As for the guitars, Terrance Hobbs has never had anything to be embarassed about. Even on Suffocation's least talked about album, "Breeding The Spawn," his guitar parts stand out as technical masterpieces. On "Suffocation," he and Guy Marchais combine forces to write songs that are furious, enthralling, and at times extremely claustrophobic sounding. I say claustrophobic because at certain points throughout this album, the guitar parts feel extremely confusing and confining, such as those in the first minute or so of "Translucent Patterns of Delirium." The lead parts stand out in this album, moreso, in my opinion, than on the last album, which is a definite plus. Leads have always been important in Suffocation's work, ever since the mid-range, bludgeoning riffs of "Infecting The Crypts" kicked everyone square in the nuts. On top of the technical proficiency, tactful lead construction, and brilliant soloing, the production, much like the aforementioned instruments, is outstanding.
The one complaint I have about this album is that the bass doesn't stand out as much as it did on their earlier albums, such as "Pierced From Within." Though audible, it doesn't have that certain twistedness it used to. Not to downgrade Derek Boyer's talent in the least - I've seen them play with him quite a few times, and he fucking nails those old songs - I just think he should have featured his instrument a bit more on this album. However, the fact alone that he can keep up with Hobbs and Marchais is astounding. The sound of his bass is far from lost in the mix, but it could have been played around with a bit more than it was.
Despite virtually unnoticeable setbacks, this album blew my fucking head off the first time I heard it. If I could sum this review up in one sentence, it would be this: it appears that Suffocation have found a healthy balance between old school Suffocation and newer Suffocation, circa "Despise The Sun." Suffocation have proven once more that their sound is a force to be feared.