Friday, May 17, 2013

The Way's From Best to Worst: Suffocation

Effigy of the Forgotten (1991)

The one that started it all. Sure, they had a demo and an 'ep' before it but 'Effigy...' blew the fucking door off the hinges and for better or for worse, you can thank this album for the lion's share of br00tal/tech-death band's that have flooded the underground since.

Two things that will always ensure that this album stays way ahead of the pack is that aside from the obvious brutality, there is a sort of evil whimsy throughout its duration as well as the fact that each of these songs are fairly memorable, quite the astonishing achievement when you take into consideration the amount of riffs clustered throughout. Vocally, Frank Mullen beefed up his chops a bit after his absolutely frightening delivery on both the 'Reincremation' demo and 'Human Waste' ep, which resulted in one of the greatest vocal performances throughout the history of death metal. There is no shortage of singers that have attempted to ape his style but none have even come remotely close to the pummeling brutality of Frank Mullen on this album.

Human Waste (1991)

I actually prefer Frank Mullen's voice on this release as well as the demo before it. Though it may not carry with it the depth of 'Effigy...', his vocal performance here is by far the most frightening sounding of his career. The music leans a bit towards the transitional death/thrash approach which was quite common in the late '80's/early '90's. Most of these tracks would be re-recorded for the band's debut album and as a result would sound much beefier, greatly benefiting from the classic Morrisound production courtesy of then go-to guy, Scott Burns.

Reincremated (1990)

Sounding similar to the Human Waste ep, the band's sole demo, 'Reincremated' showcases songs that would turn up on 'Effigy of the Forgotten'. Here they sound a bit leaner but no less intense. Again, Frank Mullen's voice is absolutely fucking insane here! It is absolutely mandatory to hear this.

Despise the Sun (1998)

After the gluttonous technical duo of 'Breeding the Spawn' and 'Pierced from Within' Suffo decided to cut back on the meandering riff fluctuations and deliver what is undoubtedly their most straightforward release to date and the result is an ep's worth of material that brings to mind the bludgeoning brutality of the band's earlier releases. Long gone are the days of Mullen's Human Waste era rasp, but that is of no consequence as the man is top fucking condition here, relentlessly beating the shit out of the microphone with absolute hateful brutality.

Pierced from Within (1995)

I've gotta say, I'm not the biggest fan of this album, nor do I think it sucks. I do like it, but I certainly do not love it. If anything, I think it's safe to say that this is probably the album that should have succeeded 'Effigy of the Forgotten'. The production here is sort of a more "sophisticated" version of that found on 'Effigy...'. My problem with this record is that a lot of the songs tend to meander. This has actually always been a problem that has plagued the band from day one, but I believe that the earlier material of the band was, thankfully, a mite bit more straightforward. 'Pierced...' certainly sounds more polished and controlled than the abominable pile of shit that is 'Breeding the Spawn', but again, the tendency to meander is prevalent here and I unable to look at this as anything but a creative hang-up. Oh well. This isn't a bad album by any means and there are certainly some great ideas scattered about, but I just can't get into the whole "mindless tangent" thing that a lot of "technical" death metal bands wind up exploiting.

Souls to Deny (2004)

I'm not quite sure what it is about this album that caused everyone to piss and moan, but I can assure you, if you dug what the band was doing on 'Breeding...' and 'Pierced...' then there really shouldn't be any reason for you to dislike this album as it pretty much sounds like a combination of the two, Obviously the production is better than that found on 'Breeding...' and perhaps the songs are slightly less technical, but overall this album carries with it the same vibe as that album as well as 'Pierced from Within'. Again, I'm not terribly fond of this style, but if you are then I can't see why you wouldn't like this album. I guess some people need something to piss and moan over.

Pinnacle of Bedlam (2013)

This is probably the most diverse Suffocation album since 'Pierced...', though I wouldn't fret much as all of the typical Suffocation hallmarks are in place here. Honestly, even though the band are making obvious attempts to branch out while keeping their signature elements in place, this all sounds a bit old hat to me, which, face it, has been Suffocation's number one flaw all along. Not a bad album by any means, and really, there truly aren't any "bad" Suffocation albums. Just a whole bunch of boring ones! This one, I think it's safe to say, is anything but!

Blood Oath (2009)

This is a pretty boring album. Heavy? Sure, but excruciatingly boring. As with most Suffocation albums, there are definitely moments of brilliance scattered throughout, but overall this one's a total snoozefest. The best part of this album is the ridiculously killer cover art.

Suffocation (2006)

Although I really stopped "truly" giving a fuck around 'Pierced...', this is where I shut the door completely. I realized beyond a doubt that Suffocation was one of those bands that persistently releases mediocre material every few years and will never quite reach the bar they themselves had raised so many years ago with their debut album. Basically what you have here is a bunch of braindead "brutal" riff fluctuations drenched in what is probably the most questionable choice of production since 'Breeding...'. No, it's not quite on that level of bad, but it aint good either! Lastly, as if it were some sort of unconscious giveaway to the generic mediocrity of the music within, the cover art is mind-bogglingly tame and I was somewhat surprised that the band opted to go down the 'self titled' route as if they ha run out of laughably retarded song and album titles (Epitaph of the Credulous, anyone?).

Breeding the Spawn (1993)

Here it is... the absolute cream of the crap. I highly doubt that even the hipster faggots who try and pretend as if they like every shitty little morsel that crawled out of the ass of the early '90's likes this album as much as they front that they do. I understand that in many internet circles it is now the "in" thing to cherish and praise certain "misunderstood" albums released so long ago but believe me folks, this is one effigy that is better off forgotten. I'm not even going to get into how bad the production is because that's really not much of a surprise to anyone who's read a review or two on this album, but what I will say is that the actual music on this album sucks as well. I mean, from top to bottom, beginning (of my sorrow) to the end, this album is an absolute drunken fucking mess and without a doubt the lowest point of Suffocation's career.

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