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I have just something to say: Why does this exist? I really can’t understand how some people are able to like or even love an album like this. This album represents perfectly the end that metal did in the last decade: shitty stuff for “wannabe br00tal kids” which don’t give a shit about quality at all. Let’s clear something: I have nothing against deathcore in general. On the paper, it’s a genre that I really would love. Think about it: various forms of death metal (mostly melodeath, brutal, slam and sometimes even grindcore) fused with modern hardcore and moshy, heavy breakdowns. In my head, it’s a fucking cool thing. The problem is how most bands manage this formula, abusing of some components like breakdowns and grooves, detracting too much from the rest and making the whole thing sound frustratingly boring and, most of all, unbelievably dumb. But let’s go with order.
The first real deathcore album ever was Antagony’s debut, “See Through These Eyes”, released in 2001. Since then, the deathcore scene began to rise in California and beyond, thanks to many new names: All Shall Perish, Animosity, The Red Chord, Despised Icon, Suicide Silence, Suffokate, the latter is the band we’re talking about now. The first Suffokate full-length, “Oakland”, came out in 2004, still in the early days of the deathcore genre; this album was a nice piece of moshy but well-made stuff: between slams, breakdowns, tasty melodeath riffs and mastodonic mid-tempos, “Oakland” was a very enjoyable listen, but then, for some reasons (maybe lineup problems, I don’t know), Suffokate stopped making albums for a long time. A demo came out in 2006, but I never listened to it and I don’t know if it’s good or not. What’s certain is that, in the following years, the deathcore scene changed a lot. And when, in 2010, Suffokate released a brand new full-length, nothing was the same again.
In the second half of the 2000s, the deathcore wave began to have a huge commercial success, especially between the youngest audience, and the consequence was a progressive devolution of its original sound into an extremely dumbed down formula. The first step of this devolution was the big success of the first Bring Me The Horizon full-length, “Count Your Blessings” in 2006 (in all honesty, I find it a really great album). This was the time when all those faggy emo teens began to infest the deathcore movement, claiming it as “the most brutal music ever made”, by their extremely low (often totally absent) knowledge about metal. Since 2007, a new wave of deathcore bands began to invade the scene, creating the the so-called “MySpace death metal” phenomenon (“death metal”? Please, don’t make me laugh!). After Bring Me The Horizon (which, at the time, was still a good band, despite the emo appeal generated by their awful look), the second successful band between emo kids was Suicide Silence. Their first full-length, “The Cleansing”, had a huge impact on the scene (maybe thanks to the emo look of their singer Mitch Lucker), but, musically speaking, they offered nothing but a generic, boring and watered down version of what deathcore represented until then. At that time, some new bands like Carnifex were still making great deathcore (“Dead in My Arms” came out in the same period of “The Cleansing”, doing the same job with much more personality), but this wasn’t enough to stop the painful amount of horrible bands which played just dumb grooves and boring breakdowns, trying to be “heavy” and “brutal”, following also the style of abominable bands like The Acacia Strain (already active since early 2000s) or parodying Meshuggah without the charm (exactly what Whitechapel began to do since their second full-length). The “moshcore” virus was spreading around, generating aborts like Emmure or Chelsea Grin, and nothing could stop it. So, it’s easy to image how many first-hour deathcore bands began to sellout too; and Suffokate were between those older acts that jumped on the “moshcore” bandwagon.
“No Mercy, No Forgiveness” isn’t just one of the worst deathcore albums ever made, but also one of the biggest abominations that a metal band (or a supposed one) could ever create. There’s absolutely NOTHING worthy here. Have you listened to “Oakland”? Well, “No Mercy, No Forgiveness” is a totally dumbed down version of every component of that album. Not just “dumbed down” in the vein of Suicide Silence’s first full-length; I even wish it was like that. This is an absurd level of dumbness, beyond every human conception. This is the equivalent of jumping from All Shall Perish to Emmure. The difference is painfully abyssal and you wonder how this band could have sold out in this atrocious way. First of all, the vocalist: seeing the visual success of singers like Oli Sykes and Mitch Lucker between the young emo crowd, with all those scene kids trying to emulate their style, Suffokate recruited a young guy called Ricky Hoover. Maybe he didn’t have an emo fringe, but his body was entirely filled with tattoos and his ears were highly dilated ’til a level of unique ridiculousness, in the perfect “scene kid fashion” (a big friend of mine who hates Suffokate as much as I do is even disgusted by Ricky’s dilated lobes, and I dedicate to him this part of my review). Obviously, the real problem isn’t the physical appearance itself; the fact is that Ricky is a totally generic and charmless vocalist: his growls are really bland, lame and unexpressive, and his screams are ridiculously bitchy, even worse than Mitch Lucker’s. I bet that the Suffokate guys chose him just because he was “attractive” to little emo chicks. Image over actual talent, nice first step to make shitty music!
I have just two words to describe the songs, here: “breakdowns” and “chugs”. Really, this is the main formula of all the tracks of this album. Open-string chugging for the whole song. The result, as predictable, is just frustrating and pathetic. I mean, breakdowns can be good if well-placed and managed in a powerful way, but you can’t make a whole album based exclusively on breakdowns and chugs! The fact that the sound of these breakdowns is extremely mechanical, lifeless, cold and repetitive (differently from the pulsating and heavy breakdowns of the previous album), makes everything even more frustrating and makes you wanna kill yourself when you’re still at the second track.
The band tries, absolutely in vain, to vary a bit their offer between each track, just putting some slow melodeath tremolo melodies over some parts to give it a sense of “atmosphere” (they already did it somewhere on their first album). They pathetically fail at it. While “Oakland” was full of inspired melodeath stuff, there’s no trace of inspiration here. Even those tremolo melodies sound so impersonal, so predictable, and they’re not even remotely sufficient to save a frustrating track such as “Force Fed”. There is even some rare trace of riffage, here and there (a real miracle, considering the nature of this album), but it consists just of totally futile and unexpressive downtuned semi-riffing (like on “While They Sleep”) which sound like a vapid parody of Slipknot (“Iowa / Vol. 3” era), modern hardcore riffage (like on “Costant Urge to Kill” or “Taking Life”) that brings at least a minimum of catchiness (but the result is still extremely poor and worthy of any Emmure’s song), or some remaining traces of melodeath riffage (like on “We Long for Your Blood”, “While They Sleep”, “Power of Submission”, “No Purpose in Life”). Unfortunately still used very scarcely, because the formula is entirely succubus to the monotonous breakdown-driven rhythmic path. Some riffs sound decent (“We Long for Your Blood”, “While They Sleep”), but most of the time, they’re just uninspired and impersonal, put there just because they had to. The riffs of “No Purpose in Life”, in particular, are frighteningly derivative and could have been taken from a random All Shall Perish or Bring Me The Horizon song. There is no paragon with the riff-galore of the previous album. I also have to mention the silly melodies put at the end of “Power of Submission”, that could fit better in a mellow pop song rather than a deathcore/melodeath one.
Obviously, with an entirely mosh-driven formula like this, I suppose that I’ve nothing to say about drumming: how could a fucking drummer be expressive in a band like this? The double-bass work is decent, but there’s nothing personal or remarkable about the drummer’s skills. He just follows the infinite breakdown-parade. Sometimes, when a melodeath riff comes in, you can hear some decent blast-beat, but nothing that a random death metal drummer couldn’t do without effort. After all, let’s not forget that technical skills are totally irrelevant if the music is lame. Suffokate are surely able to play rhythmic paths with surgical precision, there is no doubt about it, but they waste their skills playing the same breakdown over and over. There is no excuse for this. They obeyed to what the crowd required, losing or at least dumbing down every slice of their personality.
There is no trace of any kind of validity on here. Maybe some little parts here and there don’t sound too awful, but if they’re not enough remarkable, how can they help to improve the songs? So, why should I give a single point to this album? My rating is zero; after all, I think that this band is surely familiar with this number, being constricted to repeat it infinitely every time they write a tab of a new song (if they actually compose their songs). “No Mercy, No Forgiveness” is one of the worst abominations ever spawned by the “moshcore” trend: surely, it’s Suicide Silence’s fault; it’s Acacia Strain’s fault; it’s also fault of all those scene kids which came to infect the deathcore movement; but, most of all, it’s fault of Suffokate themselves, which decided to adapt to the prevailing trend instead of going for their own way, making valid music.
Avoid this shit at all costs and destroy every single copy of this album you ever happen to find. If you want some great deathcore that came out in the last years, pick up a Carnifex album (“Die Without Hope”, “Until I Feel Nothing”, “Hell Chose Me” or “Dead in My Arms”). Surely, it’s moshy stuff; but it’s also high-quality stuff, and it doesn’t sacrifice good songwriting and inspiration for trend’s sake.
Wow, I cannot say how satisfied I am with this album. It is strong in every aspect. After not releasing anything for so long, you would expect Suffokate to come back with an absolutely solid effort, and indeed they did. Through many lineup changes, this is no doubt at least a somewhat different sound from Oakland,
The vocals are definitely the biggest pro of the album, with Ricky Hoover's strong power and anger in his voice. His constant change between high and low screams helps not only show his talent, but also his capability. He is comparable to vocalists such as Phil Bozeman, Brooke Reeves, or Scott Lewis. Another thing I found to be very cool was the drums. Lars Diaz' tight drumming and insanely fast double bass is more than impressive, and he too shows his talent very well. Guitar wise, Taylor Jones and Tesoro Protomartir work very well together cohesively. The awesome riffs, the ability to work in unison together, and the hard hitting brutality of their chugging is very cool. Sadly, there is not much to say about bass which is unfortunate because I think that bassist Bray Almini has actual talent and that it just isn't at its full display. The most notable part is closely towards the end of Force Fed, he throws in an actually very cool sounding bass line.
The album's production is solid, the only issue being that the bass is barely audible, if not completely inaudible. The breakdowns are quite good, my only issue being that there are a little too many of them but this does not bother me too much since I am used to so many. The best tracks are Constant Urge to Kill, Force Fed, Not the Fallen, and No Purpose In Life. Overall, this is a fantastic album from fantastic musicians who are very skilled in what they do. This is definitely an underrated band, as most deathcore fans aren't too familiar with them as they are with the classics such as Whitechapel or Carnifex. It's a shame because Suffokate raises the bar and adds a fresh taste to the genre which is sure to be more than impressive with fans of the genre.However, my only complaint would be that there's nothing that makes this album very unique, or sets it apart too much. If you like deathcore, I highly recommend this album, you're in for a huge treat.
I'm sure I won't be making any ground breakingly unique statement when I say that deathcore is a terrible genre. While not an inherently awful music style, the bands who perform it have a tendency to pretty much be a carbon copy of every other band, doing little, if anything, at all inventive or creative to give themselves an identity and instead just go the safe route of doing it the same way that works for everybody else. On a slightly more petty note, deathcore bands also have a tendency to be the anthem groups for the "kewl" group of 13 year olds who hate their parents because they had to wake up a half hour early on Sunday for church, but that's a different story. Regardless Suffokate seems to be just another by-the-book deathcore project right off the assembly line, offering absolutely nothing to demand the attention of any listener curious enough to waste their time on it.
You see, Suffokate manage to sound like something close to a complete knock off of every deathcore band out there. Sounding almost *exactly* like every DC band I can think of, yet lacks any and all aspects of those groups that make them good, or at the very least halfway tolerable. Lets start with the riffing. They consist of chugging, chugging and a slightly more chugging, with the (very) occasional solo thrown in for good measure. There is no variety whatsoever. The result of really doing the same riff over and over again makes (suprise, suprise) every song sounds damn near the same. Along with this, many songs follow a very similar structure, tone and tempo, only adding to the ridiculous tedium of the album. The obsessively overused breakdowns doesn't help, as when one horribly generic breakdown crops up, there are another fifty immediately following it up. They all just plod along, doing their thang, being "br00tal'' and all without ever doing anything even remotely interesting, likable or different in any way shape or form. Leaving no impression whatsoever, save for the impression that maybe I was wasting my time.
The vocals are also generic and run of the mill as possible. They sound like the poor man's Thy Art is Murder vocals just that much more unappealing. They lack charisma and character, just typical throaty lows and screeches, never ever do they entice interest, and a good amount of the time sound passionless and forced. It's like the vocalist just didn't really care and just went through the motions. To add to this is the lyrics, which, like everything else, are predictable and generic to a near shocking degree. The typical adolescent deathcore lyrical themes of anger, murder and rage that only puberty and teenage angst can provide. Generally, every song (and I do mean every song) are the typical "watch out, we got a badass over here!" themes, being about how much he hates the world, torturing and murdering somebody, or torturing and murdering somebody because he hates the world. Since a running theme in the lyrics is revenge, I would assume that the lyrics are motivated by having their lunch money stolen, having to do extra chores around the house or being forced by their parents to go to bed early.
This is an album that leaves no impression from start to finish, and by the end of the album I can safely say that I've forgotten almost all of it. Its an amateurish album that is repetitive, generic and unbearably boring. Even if you like deathcore, trust me, there is nothing worth of any attention here. Avoid.
WOW! If I ever need a few album to remind me why deathcore is so universally despised, it'll be made up of something from Emmure, Chelsea Grin and this album. This is quite honestly one of the worst things i've ever heard.
Ricky Hoover is an absolute run of the mill vocalist. Think Scott from Carnifex with no charisma. His growls are bland and have no character, and his screams are the same. They're double tracked a lot too, a practice which rarely works out well. He is a terrible lyricist as well. At least, I assume he writes the lyrics. If he doesn't, i'd gladly believe Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta did, as they follow the same overcome problems/get revenge formula.
The guitars are basically Whitechapel worship right down to the guitar tone, except unlike Whitechapel they don't know how to write varied riffs. Constant chugging. It's like they're trying to write slams, but falling extremely short of the position. However, I will give the guitarists this. They know how to work their way around a solo. Maybe if they played more of these, the score would be brought up significantly.
The breakdowns (or breakdown, as they're all the same one used over and over) are used far too often. You'd think a band trying to be Whitechapel would do what Whitechapel did and use breakdowns tastefully, but alas, it was not to be, and they plague this album. Did you ever have those annoying cousins who everytime you saw them you were like "Fuck. Not them"? It's the same with these breakdowns. Every time one is played you'll be thinking "Jesus. Another one?"
The drummer is a competent musician, and manages to keep the album holding some interest throughout it's duration, but nearly everything he plays goes into a breakdown, which is a complete waste of his talent.
The bass, as i'm sure you can predict, is nowhere to be heard. Oh well. He's probably just following the guitars anyway.
This is 35 minutes of the most tedious deathcore ever produced. Even Emmure held my attention better than these guys. Avoid this like the plague, though if your curiosity does get the better of you, make sure you have a pillow, as you'll need something comfy to fall asleep on.