Gasping For Air
Suffocation at The Embassy in London, Ont., May 24, 1996
with Fleshgrind, Obscene Crisis and Rotting

by: Alain M. Gaudrault
When I'd originally heard that Suffocation were to be playing at The Embassy in London, Ontario (check out their web site for more info at www.shmooze.net/~embassy), the word was out that lead vocalist Frank Mullen had left the group and had since been replaced. A few days before the show, I'd heard that Mullen was back in the band, which was relief as the band just wouldn't be as convincing, I felt, without the original vocalist at the helm.

The evening went started off with Newmarket, Ontario's Rotting (featured in CoC #1) who put on a solid set of their uncompromising music. A decent set, albeit nothing particularly spectacular. Obscene Crisis, hailing from Canada's metal haven, Montreal, put on what was easily the second-most impressive set of the night, after Suffocation, of course. Their brand of grinding/hardcore/death was expertly delivered, very tight, and very convincing (see New Noise this month for a review of their demo CD, _Silence of the Mind_). While the overall mix really sucked, the musicianship shone, as did Eric Fiset's insane vocal delivery. Next up was Fleshgrind, a band whom I had written off as a run-of-the-mill, generic death/grind act from the sound of the first few songs. Slowly, though, I started to appreciate a bit more what they were doing, and the general gist of where they were coming from. While their delivery was quite good, I couldn't help but be annoyed at the constant abuse the lead vocalist directed towards the crowd who weren't showing as much enthusiasm as he would have liked. Methinks everybody were simply waiting for the masters of mayhem to emerge. Good set, and had any of the members made themselves available for fans/press to speak to them, I might even have had a demo of their to review.

Suffocation then took the stage. Now they are truly a class act. Not only could the members be seen roaming about the floor with the fans before their set, but a few of them were also behind the merchandise display, selling their wares to the fans and willing to chat! I'm told that a new EP should be released around September, so be on the lookout. They've also been dropped from RoadRunner (what is this world :coming: to?), so it's currently unclear under which label future material will be released. As for their set, the band was unstoppable, delivering the goods with the utmost in musicianship, tight as all Hell, and true to their recordings. From classics such as "Infecting the Crypts" and "Suspended in Tribulation", to several cuts from their latest offering _Pierced from Within_, all were delivered with precision and unending brutality. They are an act to behold. Seems they've also acquired a new drummer, and if memory serves, it's Mark Simpson, originally in Malevolent Creation circa _The Ten Commandments_, but don't hold me to that. As I'd said earlier, Frank Mullen is back as Suffocation's frontman, although minus the hair. Frank's going for a new look, which meant shaving off those golden locks in favour of a skin job. I was told by Terrence Hobbs (guitar) that he done it for "personal reasons." Whatever that may be, it hasn't proven to be a Samson-like curse; his ferocity remains intact.

While the night was successful for those who attended, I must admit that the turnout left much to be desired. There were perhaps 100 people in attendance in a bar that could easily hold two or three times that many. Part of it is certainly due to lack of promotion, but a lot of has to do with general inertia on the part of metal fans, I feel. The Embassy plans on bringing in more death metal acts over the next few coming months. Kataklysm have already been booked for June 15th (CD release party, be there!), and gigs featuring Incantation and Cannibal Corpse are in the works. Be sure to check out The Embassy's WWW page on a regular basis to get more info.

(article submitted 9/6/1996)


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