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Suffocation | review | metal | Lollipop


by Tim Den

What's more impossible: A broken up, highly-revered band reunites and makes a relevant new album, or said band achieving its pinnacle two albums into its reunion? Unbelievably, death metal gods Suffocation have done the latter. Not that the group's '04 reunion album Souls to Deny wasn't good, but this new record is goddamn ridiculous. While its predecessor satisfied the fans' hunger for their returning heroes, it's on this here new endeavor that Suffocation no longer need to rely on their past for accolades. Believe it, folks, these guys have outdone themselves.

Souls to Deny had a fistful of good riffs, but it suffered from a lackluster production and an unconvincing vocal performance from Frank Mullen (who is usually unstoppable and intimidating). This time around, there are no flaws to be found. First off, the production is spotless. It's as polished as death metal can get without losing its bite, while just as vicious and skull-crushing as any classic of the genre. The record is even able to contain a meaty low end that allows the bass (death metal's most ignored instrument) to not only support the blasting assault, but to envelop it in a massive wall of thickness. Delicious. Second of all, Mullen has never sounded better. Taking his newly developed, clearly-enunciated vocals (think David Vincent around Covenant) to the forefront, but never forgetting to let loose some of his trademark "choking on intestines" bellows once in a while, he's in full command of the machine that roars behind him. The result? Apocalyptic brutality.

And finally, the riffs. While fans can always rely on Suffocation to deliver technical, precise, atonal, highly-syncopated NY-style death metal (a subgenre the band helped define) arranged like a vortex flipped inside out, 15+ years of songwriting has finally taken the band to a realm free of simple adjectives. On this new album, Suffocation's songs can no longer be restricted to such measly descriptions. Everything they've learned has fused with heavenly catchiness to birth something that my words cannot do justice to. Sure, it's Suffocation and it's death metal, but to think that the brains, muscles, production, beat choices, riffs, and vocal dexterity of extreme music would arrive at this juncture is to realize that perfection does exist. This is it: This is death metal at its finest. No relying on power chords, math-y for math-y sake, dumb heaviness, or simple repetition, but the best imaginable combination of the genre's attributes.

I cannot recommend this album enough. By far the year's best metal release. It may have taken Suffocation a break-up and a reunion album, but they finally reign supreme.


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