After first hearing “Effigy of the Forgotten” (1991) I quickly became a follower of SUFFOCATION and with each new release arriving on my door step I couldn’t wait to get it in the CD player, crank up the volume and listen to what new tracks were going to end up on my new mixtape (c’mon people have all done them). “Breeding the Spawn” (1993), “Pierced from Within” (1995), “Souls to Deny” (2004), “Blood Oath” (2009) and all the other releases, Live and EP, all made there way to this reviewers house. Ok, I admit, some releases I did not like, some I did. So, when I heard that they were going to release another album “Pinnacle of Bedlam” (2013) through Nuclear Blast, I was like a dog with two dicks!!
The first thing that I got to see from this most anticipated opus was the artwork, which unfortunately I wasn’t that impressed with, it kind of reminded of some power metal album artwork, but hey, it’s all about the music, right?
Nuclear Blast then tease us all with “As Grace Descends” which gained many mixed reviews from fans, me…. I liked it. I loved the sound, the riffs, the drum work and the always liked Frank Mullen vocals, I was happy. Then not long after Xmas, the band decide to torment the fans even more by giving us “Cycles of Suffering”, the opening track from the album. This track did not pull any punches, without a split second intro, a complete assault of Brutal Death, drums going off like an AK-47, guitars screeching away with some awesome riffage, some nice tempo changes and as usual, Frank Mullen giving us some fantastic vocal, a voice that fits this sound so fuckin well!!! That was it for me, this album was right at the top of the most wanted list and I can’t explain how damn happy I was when it finally made its way to me, I played it, I played again and I played it again and let me tell you… I love it. Throw away all the doubts you think you may have, this album really is something!!!!
As I stated before, the opening track “Cycles of Suffering” comes roaring out. Frank Mullen’s vocal coming straight in making you feel you are already knee deep into the album with no warning of the brutality to come. Drums come flying in immediately bringing a nuclear war into your room handled by Dave Culross, which for me was a welcome return, his drumming style is undeniable and the last time we heard him was on the EP “Despise the Sun” (1998), he does not disappoint and were still only on track one!!
One of the main things I love about this band, and I’m not just speaking for myself, is the technical riffs and kick ass solos. It’s what puts these at the top of the Death Metal genre and with Terrance Hobba and Guy Marchais this would never fail, both intricate, multifaceted and over all just damn shit hot players. Some of the lead pieces on this album are the best in their career with the title track “Pinnacle of Bedlam” being this reviewers favourite!! Those alone make this one hell of a release!!
I touched on it before but the tempo switches within each song are mind blowing. What we have here is not just 320bpm for 38mins. What we have is something interesting, the tempo changes and different guitar parts keeps you wanting more and does not put this listener in a coma of boredom!!
Founder Frank Mullen gives his instrument some great guttural work, but, not as harsh as the previous albums. This is definitely not something bad, this vocal style really works with the music. Now we have more evolved song writers and Frank does a great job of being more in control of his vocal.
The production of the album is fantastic. Produced by Chris “Zeuss” Harris, this man has done a great job with mixing and mastering and this has worked really well for SUFFOCATION. The guitars sound amazing, you can hear all riffs being played perfectly and hear the speeds that these guys go at. A clear crisp sound throughout every track. The sound of the drums is amazing, from the snare to the kicks, are spot on reminding me of the early Death Metal days. Derek Boyer’s bass rounds it all off, thumping through every track and definitely not letting this unit down!!
Saving the fastest till last, “Beginning of Sorrow” finishes the album, blasting all that stands in its way and leaving you wondering who the fuck just smacked you round the head with a sledge hammer!!
This album is without a doubt a major climb back to the top of the Death Metal ladder. SUFFOCATION fans will not be disappointed. You will need this album in your collection and play it proudly, the guys are back after 4 years, and fuckin better than ever!!! This album alone will get them another charge of new fans!! A great sounding album, fantastic songwriters who do what they know best… Brutal Death Metal… the SUFFOCATION way!!!!!
Tracks to check out:
“Pinnacle of Bedlam”
Written by: Marc Chambers