Although SUFFOCATION’s quality of output over their career has been a mixed affair, the last two records (2006’s self-titled effort and 2009’s “Blood Oath”) were, in my opinion, two stellar Death Metal records that redefined SUFFOCATION for a modern age. In particular, “Blood Oath” showed a band experimenting with atmosphere and pulling away from their practically patented technical ‘wall of brutal noise’ that defined them early in their career. This is the reason my excitement for their most recent effort, “Pinnacle Of Bedlam,” was so high. Could the band continue their streak of strong albums to three in a row?
The short answer is “yes” to the above question, although I found “Pinnacle Of Bedlam” to be a weaker record than the previous two if only in the tightness of the song writing. Ironically, that means that this seventh record from the US Death Metal masters is still an impressive and brutal recording. It’s an album that has to grow with you, but it remains as a record that other Death Metal bands will be compared to in 2013.
More akin to the self-titled effort, “Pinnacle” utilizes the best of their old school song writing/performing talents and cleans it up with a tighter production and sharper sound. The lack of “rawness” in the production will rub some old school fans the wrong way, but in this modern age it fits remarkable well on SUFFOCATION and it allows their technical skills to be highlighted in full display. The music itself is still very much SUFFOCATION in all of its tendencies and style including on new classics like “Purgatorial Punishment” or the structured “Rapture Of Revocation.” The rapid fire precision of the complex rhythm work pummels throughout with bewildering fast riffing and brain rattling blast beats only occasionally slowing down for a melodic intro on “Sullen Days” and the well placed mid tempo groove like in the middle of “Beginning Of Sorrow.” The deep guttural roars seem a bit tighter on this record as he spews lyrical content of a standard pain, suffering, and doom variety while the band seemingly explodes underneath with ferocious Tech Death playing. This is the SUFFOCATION we have come to know and it rarely deviates from the style on “Pinnacle Of Bedlam.”
SUFFOCATION still pushes forward with strong albums on “Pinnacle Of Bedlam” kicking it to three in a row. Although it doesn’t quite carry the raw ferocity of the self-titled effort or the experimental success of “Blood Oath,” this latest album is one that fans of the band will quickly latch onto and absorb with excitement setting a fairly high standard early in 2013.
(Online February 7, 2013)