Suffocation - _Blood Oath_
(Nuclear Blast, 2009)
by: Jackie Smit (9 out of 10)
Along with a very select few others, Suffocation are card-carrying members of an exclusive club -- one which has tattooed its influence across multiple generations of sonic terrorists, yet whose own output continues to be as menacing, acerbic and relevant as it was a decade ago. Arguably the definitive New York death metal hit squad, Suffocation's announcement that they were to be reunited was met with the sort of zeal typically reserved for tent revival meetings, and the band have not failed to deliver since. _Souls to Deny_ and its self-titled successor were bone-jarring marathons in masterfully executed musical barbarism, showing off Suffocation as band who had not lost a step in spite of their self-imposed sabbatical.

Yet these efforts both fell short of equalling the malignant majesty of their finest hour in the form of _Pierced From Within_ -- an album so soaked in atmosphere and character that it left anyone crossing its path gasping for air. _Blood Oath_ is no different in this regard. They may have packed their bags and set sail for the pillowy bosom of Nuclear Blast and employed the highly competent services of production hotshot Joe Cincotta, but even that doesn't help them scale what would admittedly be daunting heights for any band. And that's just fine. Comparing _Blood Oath_ to _Pierced From Within_ is like expecting Slayer to deliver another _Reign in Blood_. It's never going happen.

Thing is: _Blood Oath_ does come pretty damn close. Had the disc managed to sustain the impressive precedent set by the opening title track, it just might have. "Blood Oath" is Suffocation at their finest; a deliberately grinding assault that's about as forgiving as a vat full of scalding hot oil, built around the quintet's hookiest and most thoroughly inventive chorus to date. "Dismal Dream" reverts back to type, blasting its way through its 3:18 and showing off just what an asset Derek Boyer is on the bass guitar. In fact, across the duration of the album, you can't ever really point to any specific missed steps. Suffocation remain godlike at what they do, yet despite it all they still leave you with the impression that they're capable of even more.


(article published 5/7/2009)

1/29/2006 J Smit Suffocation: To Crush Once More
8/31/2006 J Montague 9.5 Suffocation - Suffocation
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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