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Don't get me wrong, I love this album, but it's quality is being talked up a little bit. Yes, the production is good. Everything is clear, and if separated everything would sound great. However the mix here is shit. The guitars are weak as piss when compared to the drums. Basically, when Mike Smith is blasting, you can't hear much in the way of riffs. It's hardly punishing, and has a few too many slow sections. Really about 60% of this album is in 'slow-and-scary' mode. Suffocation do pull these sections off flawlessly, but there's too many.
Honestly, I feel that Souls to Deny had a better mix, with the muddy drums losing their ability to fill up the entirity of the ugly assed soundscape that Suffocation make so well, so there's a big tick on production sound and clarity, but the mix is a fail. With that said, the guitars are audible for most of the album, they just get lost in the faster drumming.
This is technical death metal at it's gritiest and meanest. The riffs, instead of being pummeling and brutal, tend to have a grotty, and for the lack of a better word, deathly sound to them. The production is great on the guitars, and they do sound perfect. And yes, there is technicality galore here, as well as a very original style. The guitars have basically no chugging, or powerful sounds, instead most of the guitars have a very windy sound with a shit load of different notes being played one after the other. Basically, the only problem to be found is their weak sound in the mix. With a weak guitar sound, obviously, the bass has little hope, with it only being audible for a few moments during the slower breaks where everything cuts out for a second or two, but note I can't hear bass, so I may be way off here.
Mike smith is both a positive and a negative. Here he's made himself known as a incredible drummer, capable of matching the guitars in sheer strange technicality during the slow sections, delivering a powerful standard beat when needed, and blasting like a madman at strange, and somehow oddly fitting times. I mean listen to Redemption about 3 and a half minutes in, it's not too fast, and a full speed blastbeat should not work there, but somehow it does. Unfortunatly, Joe Cincotta got a little too excited by the fact that Smith kicks so much ass here, and that the band learned how to produce clear drums and made them sound stupidly loud. Hell, listen to the section of music I told you to a few sentances ago. As the section is repeated, you can actually hear the guitars get turned down lower for about two repetitions, before fading in again. Seriously, you can't hear anything else. The problem is, there's a bunch of things like that all over this album. And some of the blastbeats over the slow parts just don't work. Particularily those which have vocals in them, ie "Translucent Patterns of Delerium".
Speaking of vocals, Suffocation brings us Frank Mullen, a man whose photo's in the booklet fit every sterotypical tough guy description in history, yet a man who has a voice which is like no others. I'm not sure if it's got the brutality which others have alluded to, but it does sound fucking intense, and is in a way more unsettling than the most gutteral of gutteral growls, because it is just so strange and well, it's deranged, in the most homicidal way imaginable. He does cup the mic quite often, which if you ask me sounds like yelling into an empty paint can, but it does break up the approach, so I guess it's needed. As others have said, his lyrics are less, "I cut your face off with my penis wrapped in sandpaper" and more "Why am I cutting your face off with my penis wrapped in sandpaper". which is a nice idea, but often it's not overly effective. As Mullen is hardly a psychiatrist, and doesn't seem to be able to think of much better than "My father once told me/Shut up/shut Up".
Most of the songs have pretty similar musical ideas, but are clearly different songs, and due to this, all the songs are very good, and somehow, they're not overly tiring. The only real problem that I've come accross is that the frequent slow downs do get a little tiresome. Soon enough you can predict that things are going to start off with a mid to fast paced beginning, things will get heavier and heavier, and then, everything will stop, the guitar work will get weird, with strange sounding shit going on, some of it very headbangable, while other parts are weird and technical for the sake of confusing people who can't play instruments, and making ones who can ejaculate.
Overall, this is an incredible album, with a few, unfortunatly very annoying mix problems holding it back. There's no real standout songs as everything is great. In fact, the only songs which do retain higher place in memory are because of trivial reasons, rather than being musically better than the others. Redemption has a cool intro, Translucent Patterns of Delirium has a stupid lyric, interestingly enough, both those songs the most drum overload problems on the album. Also you have Bind Torture Kill and Entrails of You which have choruses which are memorable more for lyrics, than for catchy vocal lines or riffs. The album is easy as hell to find, hell, all three of the music chains in my town have it, I even think I saw it in Target, and trust me, it's worth the money. With only two flaws, the mix and the goddamn sticker on the case, fuck me that thing is the flimsiest piece of shit ever made. It cannot be removed. See, it's so good I have to look at stickers to find any real negatives.