SUFFOCATION have been setting the the bar of brutality since 1988 now, influencing the entirety of extreme metal from the chuggiest of deathcore to the most over the top and technical death metal. This influence doesn’t just come from their finest hours like the 1991 debut Effigy Of The Forgotten and 1995’s masterpiece Pierced From Within but also later day releases like 2009’s Blood Oath and previous album 2013’s The Pinnacle Of Bedlam. Whilst new record …Of The Dark Light doesn’t quite raise the bar to new heights it’s still a welcome addition to their already stacked discography.
From the ripping opener Clarity Through Deprivation you can tell that this is business as usual for SUFFOCATION. Frank Mullen proves he still has the most consistent vocals in extreme metal continuing to nail the balance of low guttural brutality and clarity enough to hear his lyrics of nihilistic existentialism. Whilst he’s never pushed the boundaries of his vocals much in his career, the high standard he’s kept his performances at has to be saluted, especially so considering the levels of intensity he reaches on tracks like Return To The Abyss.
Much like SLAYER or MOTORHEAD, there are seldom curveballs with SUFFOCATION, those familiar know they’re just going to get another dosing of the balls heavy death metal. One surprise however lies in the lulls of Terrance Hobbs and Charlie Errigo’s guitar work. Whilst Hobbs has become a Jedi master of death metal shredding, his work on …Of The Dark Light just isn’t as exhilarating compared to previous records. Part of the blame can be placed on the fairly bland guitar tones throughout the album. Whilst they have a clean finesse to them that compliments Hobbs‘ solos they also hinder the riffs from slamming as hard as they could. It also feels like Hobbs’ and new guitarist Errigo are still finding their chemistry together as they fail to create any truly memorable moments together bar the eerie string work at the end of the aforementioned Return To The Abyss.
There are small hang ups and though they don’t stop a new SUFFOCATION album from being exciting, but they do halt …Of The Dark Light from surpassing the bar that the previous two albums have set.
…Of The Dark Light is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.
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