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Effigy of the Bodacious - 87%

Liquid_Braino, June 13th, 2018

Almost twenty years ago, my best bud at the time introduced me to his sister one day. I had only known her as the girl who answered the landline whenever I called his place. For two years I knew her for these words: "Hello?" and "Hold on. RIZ! PHOOOOONE!!" Then one day he took her out to hang with our gang at some Toronto pubs. To this day I don't know if he considers that day "fateful" or not, since I did wind up marrying that sister of his, and currently only see him a couple of times a year. And now, being a fan of Suffocation for over two decades, I'm finally checking out the sisters. I gotta keep it cool.

So, am I smitten to the point of neglecting my old friend Suffocation? Nope. Ain't happenin'. But I gotta admit, these ladies can turn on the heat, as Anthology of Curiosities is a raging slab of murky death metal. Maybe Suffocation's mother had an affair with Incantation's daddy since the corrosive, dank riffs focus on brutal heaviness rather than technical beatdowns, but some of the riffwork does possess complexity in arrangement. What's more important is that the album is littered with squirming melodies that are both ugly and engaging. Not to be a strict monument to old-school tradition, there's also some segues into dissonant chord progressions, and the production is all-encompassing but not at the expense of burying the riffs in cavernous reverb. Sludgy groove also rears its mottled head, adding variety to the tempos while remaining subterranean in quality thanks to the bizarre riff patterns and occasional droning tremolo overlays.

Death metal may be the foundation, but there are times when the tremolo riffing matches up with persistent blastbeats while singer Els Prins shifts gears to a raspy wail, showcasing their adeptness at churning out some black metal influences. The band juggles the genre-hops fairly well, and the scarcely used female clean vocals are evocative and add to the sordid atmosphere, such as the opening of "I am Danger". While Els boasts a convincing sickly gutteral growl, the pin-balling between grunts and rasps can reach disconcerting levels, like I'm listening to a heated argument between a disgruntled rottweiler and a rabid poodle.

Outside of the bi-polar extreme vocal excess, there's some killer tracks that surprised me with their ingenuity thanks to that rhythm section. There's not a lot of guitar soloing, which is fine since the band's talents lie elsewhere, merging numerous influences into a gelatinous whole while spewing forth some groin-yanking riffs. "Limb from Limb" opens with an insanely catchy riff right out of 80's era Destruction before the grindier madness ensues, and "This is Not My Home" rushes forth with tornado rhythms that are almost psychedelic in nature. Some of the songs end abruptly and thus feel incomplete in a sense, but I think it works concerning this particular case since it enhances the chaotic and unpredictable configurations of these compositions.

This is all really cool stuff, but whatever, let’s talk about the bigger deal, and that’s the band name. “Suffocation” isn’t an obscure or singular word, so a completely deliberate reference to another band is not immediately apparent. They aren’t named Mothers of Metallica. And yet they aren’t Daughters of Death either, in which “death” is too common a word to summon the spectre of Chuck Schuldiner every time it’s uttered. If you’re in a death metal band, have “suffocation” in your band’s name and aren’t Suffocation, comparisons will be perpetual and frequently critical until you change the moniker. I gotta give it to these ladies, it’s a ballsy name in that sense, but it also reads like a novelty act. Girls do Suffocation songs in nurse outfits and shit. It’ll probably keep them from being taken seriously by potential listeners, but give these women a chance (it should be noted that after this album was released, their drummer left and was replaced by some male type guy with a penis) if you’re into crushing death metal with some oddball elements. It’s violent, heavy and full of sass.