Slower when needed but still bloody brutal
New York’s (U.S.A.) finest death metal act, Suffocation, just about tore everyone a new one with 2006’s self titled release, their second release of their second coming and the one that really marked their return in a big way. The group (who are vocalist Frank Mullen, guitarists Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais, bassist Derek Boyer and drummer Mike Smith) are continuing their resurgence and once again asserting their position as one of the premier extreme death metal acts with their latest album, dubbed Blood Oath.
The one thing that I always associated with Suffocation was their unrelenting, ferocious attack. You know the drill – blasting drums, growling vocals, furious riffs and blistering leads. But never, until now, did I associate the word ‘groove’ with Suffocation. Sure enough though, the title track Blood Oath signals the winds of change on the band’s sixth long player. But fans of the band’s brutal past, don’t despair. Dismal Dream is as true to the band’s more typical style as you’d expect. The pendulum swings the other way with the dense, slower passages of Pray For Forgiveness and Images Of Purgatory bringing a lot of character to the respective tracks, showing the band are not shying away from growth at this point in their career.
The band’s embracing of dynamics shines on Cataclysmic Purification as the dual axe attack of Hobbs and Marchais chugs along in unison with Smith’s fitting work behind the kit. Just check out the brilliant finale over the final 90 seconds! From its two extremes, both Mental Hemorrhage and Come Hell Or High Priest both have a Morbid Angel like feel to them but not at the expense of their own style. Undeserving, Provoking The Disturbed and the closer Martial Decimation plough through with all the finesse of a bull in a china shop but really, that’s just what you’d expect from this veteran act and once again, they certainly don’t disappoint.
Perhaps long standing fans who worship Effigy Of The Forgotten (1991) or Pierced From Within (1995) will struggle a tad with the new, groovier Suffocation. But they should still give this a good listen as there is still plenty of signature Suffocation brutality within. Blood Oath may have more dynamics than the band’s previous self titled effort, but that only adds to the album’s appeal. Top shelf death metal for sure!
(Nuclear Blast Records/Riot! Entertainment)