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Better than anyone thought it would be - 89%

MikeyC, July 15th, 2017

So I’m just going to come out and say it right now: …Of the Dark Light is their best album since Pierced From Within. It’s not like Suffocation have changed their sound, either – I was a baby when they were producing music more brutal than my diaper accidents – but the difference on …Of the Dark Light is that the band sounds way fresher and invested than they have in the past.

And, again, it’s hardly like …Of the Dark Light is a stray album from their path created in the past. I realise that their post-reunion albums have copped some criticism, and it’s not exactly without merit. I was part of the few that liked Blood Oath, but I found their follow-up Pinnacle of Bedlam to be lacking. It was good, but it was missing a certain spark. Enter their 8th full-length, and a brand new guitarist and drummer, and the difference is noticeable. Call it fresh blood bringing in some fresh thoughts, but it solidifies how strong this album is from start to finish, despite the fact that no-one had any right to think that.

I mentioned the album is strong from beginning to end, with each song providing something awesome and something to hold on to, but the first three songs in particular really drive home how improved …Of the Dark Light is. “Clarity Through Deprivation” starts up without any warning, ending with some awesome slams. “The Warmth Within the Dark” is my favourite track from the album and contains some fantastic lyrics, and the riffs are catchy as hell. “Your Last Breaths” was the first single and was a good choice, showcasing the improved riffs and drumming, all smothered in Frank Mullen’s unique vocal inflection. These three songs in a row to open the album exemplify how much Suffocation have changed, but also how much they haven’t changed. It’s still the same band, but now they’re younger and more energised than in their recent past. I can’t help but believe the injection of younger talent on guitar and drums has revitalised the band, and from the opening few tracks, it becomes apparent that this one is going to have some staying power.

The rest of the album is no slouch, either. Some choice cuts include “The Violation” with its vocal delivery and increase in energy at the end, or perhaps “Some Things Should be Left Alone” with its great mid-section riffing. Again, all the songs are played with conviction and purpose, and to explain them all would be ill-fitting, as I could never properly capture their amazing sound. Every song up to and including the reworked Breeding the Spawn song “Epitaph of the Credulous” highlights how crisp …Of the Dark Light turned out to be.

I mentioned the younger new members before, but they can’t be overstated. Riffs here, while Terrence Hobbs would still be the main engine, is given a tune-up. All over the place, you’ll hear some great slams and riffs that are reminiscent of the band’s glory days, but also fit extremely well here. Even the attempts at some melody/atmosphere in “Return to the Abyss” and “Caught Between Two Worlds” work wonderfully in context. In terms of the slams, they’re played with the trademark Suffocation sound, but, yet again, sound much fresher. The biggest examples of this are in “Clarity Through Deprivation” and “…Of the Dark Light” which slow right down in their second halves and are sure to be bangers when played live. The drumming also contains some zip, too, with some intricate blasting and double-kick work. It’s clear that new skin-basher Eric Morotti brings life to these songs by playing with some assertion and energy – again, not unlike what they had in past drummers, but here the drumming simply sounds like there’s more energy involved.

To be honest, energy is basically the main reason why …Of the Dark Light works so well. The inclusion of younger talent, who no doubt would’ve grown up listening to Suffocation, and would like to put their best foot forward now that they’re in the band they idolised, has been a real shot in the arm for Suffocation. With a slew of new and awesome songs, where “The Warmth Within the Dark” might be their best song in many years, Suffocation have climbed back to the top, where they will hopefully stay in many years to come.