SUFFOCATION is the seminal Brutal Death Metal band of the world. Their existence has resulted in countless other bands trying to emulate SUFFOCATION, all attempting to reach the same level, yet never quite getting there. With three full lengths and two EPs to their name, SUFFOCATION decided to end its journey in 1998 with the “Despise The Sun” EP. SUFFOCATION was finally put to rest.
However, some time in the year 2003, there were rumours floating around that SUFFOCATION were poised to reform. These rumours rang true once the band decided to make appearances at various festivals. The question as to whether they could play live at their original level had been answered: Yes, they are able to tear the stage like they used to. Now, the more important question: When the new record comes out, will it be on the same level as their previous offerings?
The answer is a thundering yes. With “Souls To Deny”, SUFFOCATION proves to the world yet again that they are still at the top of the Death Metal world. Still being faithful to the sub-genre of Metal they have perfected, the band has written an album that has the attack and focus that was featured on “Despise The Sun”, yet also kept the technicality, weirdness and progressive elements that made “Pierced From Within” a classic. The rest of the elements that made SUFFOCATION great are also intact, from the interesting (but never reaching to the point of mindless noodling) bass lines, to the subtly and sparsely harmonized guitar riffing to the solos that actually make sense (instead to the reckless note playing that a lot of people call ‘shredding’) to the hellish vocals of Frank Mullen, which, are decipherable yet low and powerful. They were all elements that made SUFFOCATION great, and all are present on this album.
Another thing that made SUFFOCATION great is the song writing. Now, when a band normally abandons the typical song structure (verse-chorus-verse-etc…. And it’s many derived forms), they normally do so at the expense of the catchiness of the song, and a lot of times just end up writing a collage of riffs. These guys forgo the regular song writing ‘formula’, and have (yet again) created songs that twist and turn in their journey, yet they don’t sound forced nor are the changes abrupt. Subtlety in Brutal Death Metal, who knew it could be done.
Why doesn’t this album have a perfect grade? EVERYTHING is perfect about it…Except the lead guitar sound. While still hearable, they aren’t loud enough in the mix. This is the lone complaint I have about the album, but still an important. The solos are impressive in both technique and use, and the sad thing is you have to ‘seek’ them out with all the chaos going on in the music.
So what SUFFOCATION have released, after a six year break, is an album that has taken all of elements of their previous albums, and built upon their strong points, while minimizing the weak points.
SUFFOCATION HAS RETURNED! REJOICE!!!!! (Online June 5, 2004)