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Something is Lacking... - 80%

Akerfeldt_Fanboi, August 23rd, 2009

But it sure as hell isn't the riffs. Holy shit, some people actually complain about this album? It sounds like Pierced From Within with a perfect production and mix, but slowed down a bit and less technical.

If you ask me, this is the perfect Suffocation sound, just not the best album they've done. I mean, I do love the grindy beefy tone on Effigy of the Forgotten, but the guitar tone on this album is perfectly sludgy and grinding enough to be brutal.
The production cuts everything into this super mucky, but still kind of clean, and heavy wall of brutality that Suffocation sound perfect for. Comparatively, the ultra low-end of Effigy of the Forgotten is welcome, but becomes tiring, and the super tight mix of Blood Oath follows the same.

So, the album; the guitars and drums drive this album, leaving the vocals then the almost inaudible but nonetheless suitable bass to fight over dominance. For the vocals, we're talking Frank Mullen here, he's super articulate but still guttural...his lyrics are another thing, this album has some bad lyrics, and usually Suffocation has excellent psychological lyrics at play, but not here.

The guitars are built around that sludgy, but still grinding, distortion. The rhythm guitars follow the usual Suffocation formula, but since that formula is so well put together and executed, there is nothing to complain about; you will feel no complacency listening to this album. The lead tone is high and shrieky, but still fluid and thick enough to be smooth sounding. The playing is similar to the tone, gritty but still fluid, dark but yet melodic and beautiful (especially for shredding death metal solos). The bass is virtually inaudible, except when listening through a rather impressive sound system, or large headphones.

The drumming is, more or less, perfection. Mike Smith proves every album that he holds one of the crowns of death metal, superb drumming. He knows exactly when to place an ultra fast double bass fill or an intense blast section to bridge those brilliant Hobbs riffs. His kit also sounds really great, his snare sounds a little loose but that's not a huge issue. He holds his own when it comes to fills as well, absolutely slaying his tom skins.

Now, the songs and songwriting; like I said in the guitar section, Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais have perfected the Suffocation sound and injected every song with a dose of epic brutality and craftsmanship. Every song perpetuates itself around a riff theme, whether it is tremolo or chugging, the songs generally follow a certain thematic progression, until finally concluding in an ultra heavy and brutal slam breakdown; or into a mind-bending solo followed by a chorus, but whatever.

So, we've already discussed the musical aspects and technical aspects of this album. Now, how does the album as a whole hold up? Well, considering it’s Suffocation, listening to an entire album is virtually pointless, as these songs only translate well to the live setting or for a group listen with friends. The style of brutality lends itself better to casual listens, but is still a bit tedious after five or six songs.

This album is definitely recommended to any and all Suffocation fans, and is easily their best since Pierced From Within. Don't buy that lame Breeding the Spawn stuff, delve into the cleaner, slower Suffocation and see that real power and ferocity lies behind it.

Pros:

- Best production Suffocation ever has or has had
- Great slow churning riffs and heavy-ass blasting sections
- Vocals are phenomenal
- Superb drumming
- Excellent Suffo-patented songwriting
- Abomination Reborn

Cons:

- Formulaic songwriting
- Lyrics are shoddier than usual
- Lack of slams and really phenomenal solos.

As you can see, the pros heavily outweigh the cons. Buy this album, because it's really that good.