Sunday, December 23, 2012


Suffocation - Souls to Deny
Relapse Records, 2004
Genre: Brutal Death Metal

1. Deceit
2. To Weep Once More
3. Souls to Deny
4. Surgery of Impalement
5. Demise of the Clone
6. Subconsciously Enslaved
7. Immortally Condemned
8. Tomes of Acrimony

The triumphant return of Suffocation is upon us in 2004.  When they decided to disband for a while in 1998 I was heartbroken.  Albeit it was only temporary, but I think Suffocation is one of the greatest Death Metal bands in existence.  Now I can tell from the first listen that some people will not take to this album, especially the old school die hard “Effigy of the Forgotten” fans.  The first thing that I personally had to adjust to was the vocal production on this album.  At a first glance it seems a little off.  I was expecting something like “Despise the Sun,” but his vocal tone is totally different this time around.  Now I’m not sure if it’s because Frank hasn’t been playing in Suffocation for so long or what, but it’s just a different Frank this time around.  However, once I got used to the vocal tone I started to really like the album as a whole.  I know a lot of people hated it from the first listen of the vocal tone, but seriously give it a few listens and let the new tone grow on you a little bit.

Now musically this is the same old Suffocation they even have Mike Smith from the early days back in the band and he is as strong a drummer as ever.  A new addition to the band is Guy Marchais from Internal Bleeding.  Now I liked Internal Bleeding’s album “Driven to Conquer,” which is the one Guy played on, but their music can’t even compare to Suffocation’s skill level.  Needless to say Guy managed to put it together quite well and he seems to be an absolutely excellent addition to the band.  Now I was very disappointed to see that Chris Richards did not return on bass.  I always loved his bass lines to the music which is very obvious on albums like “Pierced from Within.”  He always gave the Suffocation albums this extra brutal feel when the rest of the band would stop and he’d play the bass lines and the music would just build up.  In another aspect the drummer and he would synchronize their playing perfectly and that always managed to set the stage for an incredibly brutal part of their song structure.  However, on this album Mike Smith and Terrance Hobbs had to handle the bass tracks.  They’re not bad, but I don’t believe they are nearly as creative as Chris Richards would have rendered them.  Not to mention there is no song on here where they simply play the bass and let the rest of the song build up.  That is an aspect that is sorely missed by me on this album because Suffocation was one of the few bands who managed to pull that off effortlessly.

Musically this album is Brutal Death Metal as only Suffocation could render it, but there are some slight changes in the overall sound.  The guitar tone is as crunchy and thick as ever and it just pummels you into the ground riff after riff.  However the biggest surprise of them all is the more melodic guitar work found on this album.  I was completely floored when I heard “Tomes of Acrimony.”  The song is absolutely melodic metal, but played in a brutal fashion.  I honestly didn’t think it would sound all that great, because who would think that Brutal Melodic Death Metal would work.  Well Suffocation made it work, and I honestly find it to be one of the most attractive songs on the entire album.  It is superbly written and expertly executed.  This is the only song like it on the album, but now I wish there was at least one more.  Maybe in future releases…

So I welcome the return of Suffocation.  I hope they continue to be one of the beast Brutal Death Metal bands around.  They are certainly in the top tier for my book, even though I doubt they will exceed the classics in their prior catalog.  For now, we can just look forward to good music hopefully.  I honestly don’t need them to outdo “Pierced from Within”, I just need them to write enjoyable music and they will have me purchasing their albums!  “Souls to Deny” succeeds at accomplishing at least that goal and hopefully everyone else will enjoy it as much as I did.

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