Suffocation - _Suffocation_
(Relapse Records, 2006)
by: James Montague (9.5 out of 10)
Eleven long years have passed since Suffocation redefined heaviness with _Pierced From Within_, and not a single one of their myriad impersonators in the ensuing decade have threatened its status as the ultimate brutal death metal record. Even the band itself couldn't reach such heights again; despite all signs to the contrary, the group consisted of human beings and the resultant instability and personnel changes robbed them of their momentum. _Despise the Sun_ (1998) was a relentless assault that works in very particular situations, and the comeback album _Souls to Deny_ (2004) provided fleeting satisfaction, but for all intents and purposes Suffocation's best days were behind them. Until now.

Everything I thought I'd lost from my late teens -- the giddy sensation of impossibly dense guitar and bass riffs thudding through overworked speakers, eardrums straining under the thunderous pulse of the kick drums, soul corrupting under the influence of remarkably lucid and psychotic lyrics filtered through the vocal chords of a demon -- came flooding back to me with this latest slab of death metal perfection. The production is a dream come true: the bass portraying the earthquake on which the unstable mind above struggles to grasp the eroded knife-edges of sanity, the jackhammer drums pounding oppressively against the inner walls of the skull, the choppy guitar riffs slicing through the cortex with devilish precision. However, as I reiterate time and time again in my reviews, melodic sensibility is what separates Suffocation from the competition. In songs like "Redemption" the melodicism is almost black metal-like in its abstraction, a macabre dance in the shadows of the mind.

The band consistently finds a language that really makes you think you're dealing with a bunch of schizo/psycho serial killers. People talk about the "devil's interval" being used pervasively in heavy metal -- well, Suffocation must use the "Dahmer interval", because there is something seriously deranged going on here. This sensation is enhanced by the often sprawling lyrical arrangement, which make Frank Mullen's vocal assaults so much more relentless and damaging. Such arrangements remind me strongly of the oft-overlooked _Breeding the Spawn_, and it was with great pleasure that I discovered the band had re-recorded "Prelude to Repulsion" as the final track on the new album, giving it the production such a classic track deserves. Furthermore, Mullen has allegedly promised that the band will re-record one _Breeding the Spawn_ track on each subsequent full-length album. So here's hoping they have another six CDs left in them.

The sterile cover art, superfluous logo and eponymous title didn't inspire me, but after just one listen to _Suffocation_ I felt compelled to review it. I did so in seven words and three numbers: "Suffocation - _Suffocation_ (2006): _Pierced From Within_ part two. 11/10". Obviously a genuine review requires verbal filler, not to mention numerous revisits to allow the initial orgasmic thrill to wear off. The original sentiment remains, however: this album stretches across the eleven-year chasm of scenewide mediocrity, filling it with flesh, blood and pulverized bone fragments, and the orgasmic thrill just won't go away. There is absolutely no fucking excuse for any brutal death metal aficionado not to pick up this gem when it comes out on September 19.


(article published 31/8/2006)

1/29/2006 J Smit Suffocation: To Crush Once More
7/5/2009 J Smit 9 Suffocation - Blood Oath
5/7/2004 J Smit 9 Suffocation - Souls to Deny
7/8/1998 P Schwarz 9 Suffocation - Despise the Sun
8/12/1995 G Filicetti 7 Suffocation - Pierced From Within
6/9/1996 A Gaudrault Suffocation / Fleshgrind / Obscene Crisis / Rotting Gasping For Air
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