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Not what it seems, in a good way. - 95%

hells_unicorn, October 19th, 2010

There’s a persistent storm cloud of controversy surrounding Suffocation’s sophomore effort “Breeding The Spawn”, owing mostly to the changing nature of recording industry politics. Whatever credibility one could attribute to Roadrunner Records prior to 1993 all but disappeared, and was replaced with an out and out stinginess in allocating funds to its old school bands in favor of speculating in the emerging pseudo-metal world of mainstream 90s music. Suffocation was perhaps unique in that their sound is informed enough by New York’s hardcore scene that they were able to retain some commercial viability since mallcore began sucking up all the attention from more orthodox heavy bands, and were able to bounce back with a better produced album in “Pierced From Within”, which is widely heralded as being either equal or greater to their classic debut in many quarters. But this unfortunate album has since become locked into the limbo of cult status, owing mostly to an allegedly inferior production.

Opinions may vary, but treating this album by itself, it’s a spectacular chunk of decrepit aggression that pays a very technical, yet more proper homage to the roots of the genre than its predecessor. While most fans of this band put it aside for its thinner, distant sounding production, there is a strong tendency towards the practices of the late 80s that will definitely appeal to those with a fetish for early Morbid Angel, Deicide and Cannibal Corpse. This is an album that is only mildly informed by the goregrind/hardcore sledgehammer that typifies most of this band’s material, and greater attention is paid to recognizable riff work and an overt thrash character that had begun to vanish from death metal by this point. Naturally the trebly, heavily reverb detailed production is a leading culprit in tempering what might be an equally heavy endeavor (judging by the inclusion of several these songs on later releases), but the result is not the mediocre exercise that many have made it out to be.

A single listening of “Epitaph Of The Incredulous”, “Prelude To Repulsion” and “Ignorant Deprivation” will reveal a sound more in line with “Eaten Back To Life” than the next rung on the ladder towards “Blasphemy Made Flesh” that would normally be attributed to this outfit. There is a prominent amount of distinctive bass work that, although not nearly as bombastic in sound as other incarnations, does keep things interesting and distinct from most similar sounding offerings from 3-5 years prior. The riffs are a heavily chromatic barrage of palm muted brilliance that is heavily informed by the extreme fringes of late 80s Thrash, with Sodom being the most noticeable. There’s plenty of Frank Blackfire and Kerry King induced madness going on during the lead guitar breaks as well, but this is an album where all the parts combine together to create a harmoniously chaotic whole that will locked the listener in, kick his ass repeatedly, and then laugh at how poorly he takes his beating.

It might be a bit of a stretch, but Roadrunner’s whoring and money-grubbing may well have resulted in this album being better than it otherwise would have been if it had been given the brutality to the extreme, heaviness to the point of total pulverization approach to album production that Scott Burns is known for. Perhaps it’s an album more suited to 1990-91 than to 1993, but what is really in a year of release when there is good old fashioned, ugly as hell death metal with a brilliant mix of brutality and technicality to be heard? Put aside your undying devotion to “Effigy” and “Pierced” for a moment, forget your unrelenting hatred of Roadrunner, and give these 8 newly spawned fits of New York bred brilliance take you over.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on October 19, 2010.