Sunday, 17 March 2013

Suffocation - Pinnacle Of Bedlam (2013)

I know what most of you are thinking, this album's already been out a month, why am I just reviewing it now? The truth is, I've had a hard time A. finding the time to properly sit down and write this review, and B. I wanted to make sure I did it justice. It may be late, but I couldn't resist voicing my opinions on this highly anticipated album from one of death metal's biggest bands. And just to appeal to other big Suffocation fans like myself I will be describing the album using some of the band's own lingo (this should be interesting...).


1. Cycles Of Suffering
2. Purgatorial Punishment
3. Eminent Wrath
4. As Grace Descends
5. Sullen Days
6. Pinnacle Of Bedlam
7. My Demise
8. Inversion
9. Rapture Of Revocation
10. Beginning Of Sorrow

Suffocation have long been known as one of death metal's greatest innovators, due to their inventive use of blastbeats, outstanding technicality and brutal grooves along with vocalist Frank Mullen's signature stage presence. After releasing several brilliant album throughout the 90's and inspiring modern death metal (and certainly tech-death) almost single handedly the band split up and for 6 long years there was a void in the death metal scene that it seemed would remain permanently unfilled. However in 2004 Suffocation reformed and have been working furiously ever since. This is the 4th album since the band's reformation and after 2009's effort Blood Oath, an album some would call "lacklustre" (I'm a massive fan but even I must admit it was slightly patchy), plus the departure of mainstay drummer Mike Smith, widely credited as the inventor of blasting, many people, myself included, wondered how Suffocation would bounce back from these events.

Fear not, for Long Island's finest have done us proud yet again.

This album may just be one of the finest things Suffo' have ever released, certainly since reforming at least. This is classic Suffocation with a crisp, high-end production job. And my god it does wonders for them, former Suffo' soundman turned producer Joe Cincatto has once again done a magnificent job. Newly returning drummer Dave Culross, who appears on his first Suffocation release since the Despise The Sun E.P. in 1998, once again does a spectacular job of filling Mike Smith's shoes, Derek's bass is tight as fuck, Frank's voice sounds evil as hell and the guitar work from Terrance and Guy is nothing short of wonderful. But anyway, onto the actual music itself...

"What about the riffs???" I hear you cry. Well the riffs... My god the riffs. As a guitarist myself I feel an instant rush of jealousy upon listening to a Suffocation album, and none more so than this release. Musically this album combines everything Suffocation are famous for into possibly some of the best music they've ever written. Stabs, Slams, Thrashes, Blasts and Bombs are all here in ample amounts, along with some truly jaw-dropping solos. The solos that Guy Marchais & Terrance Hobbs trade off in the title track is some of the best death metal soloing I've heard this millennium so far. "Sullen Days" and "My Demise" also contain some great breakdown riffs. This is the first album in a while that's given me a bangover and an aching wrist the morning after. And some of the peddling that Derek Boyer churns out on the bass is extraordinary.

One thing I will note on this album however is a distinct change in lyrical content. This album moves away from the gore and religion fuelled songs of previous albums and focuses more on death and rebirth as explained by Terrance in the deluxe edition's "making of" documentary. This is due in part to the talented Mr Hobbs studying the tibetan book of the dead and taking the reins in terms of lyric writing this time around, and while it may be a tad too different for some, it works well and is a nice change of pace, helping show that Suffocation are new and rejuvenated. Also, while Frank may not be doing every date of every tour with the band now, he still performs every song on this album with as much dedication as ever. All in all each member gives a standout performance.

This album may well be my favourite release so far this year, and with a ticket to their London date already bought, it's safe to say that 2013 is the year of Suffocation in my eyes. This isn't just the Pinnacle of Bedlam, it's also the pinnacle of their career since reforming. Apart from possibly making it a bit longer Suffocation have done everything right with this release and I'm confident it's only a short amount of time before this pays off for them in a big way. Hail Suffocation \m/


Check this out if: you love the band already, want to check them out, or you're curious as to how tech-death got its start.

For fans of: Cryptopsy, Nile, Deeds Of Flesh, Origin, Gorguts

Pinnacle Of Bedlam is out now on Nuclear Blast Records

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