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Suffocation > Hymns from the Apocrypha > Reviews
Suffocation - Hymns from the Apocrypha

Suffocation - Hymns From The Apocrypha - 85%

Orbitball, February 10th, 2024
Written based on this version: 2023, Digital, Nuclear Blast

This album has elements to it that make it pretty epic, though it's undoubtedly not like their catchiness of their earlier work. The intensity is still there though and the technicality of it all though the leads were somewhat sloppy. The intensity is high throughout, even the slower tempos they are BRUTAL.

The vocals and music keep this release pretty underground. I'd have to say that they earned a "B" rating from me. I like what I'm hearing throughout this release. They're surely not compromising and that hasn't really changed. Upped into the realm of say Dying Fetus in that aspect, the technicality, the double bass kicks, the wicked guitar work, these guys did well here. I cannot make this into a low "C" rating because it's molded into me in a great release. I still need to order this album because I only have it streaming and I want to show support to the band. These guys have had an over 30 year career in death metal history in some of the most influential work!

There's no backing out of saying they aren't witnessing back from their roots on this one. That would be false a definite false statement. This album is in your face brutality and catchy guitars, brutal vocals and a sound production. I really liken this release!

I had to order this, it would be stupid of me to do otherwise and not factor this in to the CD list I may have for top releases of 2023. These guys just tear it up from every different angle! The vocals go really well with the music, they're left unchanging. No screaming really, just low bellowing vox and the guitars that's riffs go hand in hand with the music. The leads are pretty well executed as well! But they're in no way better than the music itself. They just annihilate your speakers!

If you desire to hear some fresh Suffocation in the vein of the old era tune in to this because it's where it's at! Balls out intensity! Get it, today!

Excellent Potential Harmed by a Lack of Courage - 60%

kluseba, November 21st, 2023
Written based on this version: 2023, CD, Nuclear Blast (Europe)

The problem with most technical death metal bands of old age is that they fail to expand their horizons, reinvent themselves and surprise their fans. When Cryptopsy has experimented with deathcore elements and Morbid Angel has integrated industrial soundscapes, the backlash from critics and fans has however been terrible. That might be the reason why veterans such as Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation keep things simple, repetitive and predictable. Fans of old date might praise such a standard as consistency while occasional listeners such as myself might rather describe such an approach as stagnation.

Suffocation's ninth studio record Hymns from the Apocrypha isn't a bad release by any means but fails to exploit the quintet's full potential that manages to shine through here and there. The technically stunning guitar play meandering between aggressive riffs and melodic solos, the dynamic, heavy and playful bass guitar sounds and the energetic, fast and tight drum play show what this band could accomplish if it detached itself from its early roots, fan expectations and genre boundaries.

Highlights on this album include atmospheric, creative and thunderous album opener and title track ''Hymns from the Apocrypha'' and dynamic, experimental and playful deep cut ''Seraphim Enslavement''. Most of the other songs rush by without leaving any significant impression, even after multiple spins, as the album even starts to have a few lengths by the end despite an overall decent running time of forty-one minutes.

My best advice for bands such as Suffocation, Morbid Angel, Cryptopsy and the likes would be to dare to reinvent themselves, push genre boundaries and exploit their full potential even if such a strategy might mean to face some heat over such controversial decisions. Suffocation's Hymns from the Apocrypha ultimately qualifies as standard technical death metal record of a good average quality but the band has the potential to accomplish much more and should do so without any worries, regrets or compromises.

Could be a new classic - 90%

spookymicha666, November 19th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2023, Digital, Nuclear Blast

I never was too much into brutal death metal but Suffocation found a very special place in my heart since their debut Effigy Of The Forgotten. So I followed their way throughout all the years and never got too disappointed with their albums. After Frank Mullen left the band in 2018 I was pretty scared that this would be the end of Suffocation but with Ricky Myers the guys not only found a worthy replacement but also somebody who isn't totally unknown in the death metal underground.

So now it is time for Myers debut in Suffocation and he really does such a great vocal performance on Hymns From The Apocrypha that doesn't let miss Frank Mullen. He sounds almost like him and the aggressiveness and energy in his vocal lines is quite similar to him. So he meshes really perfectly into the band. Apart from this most interesting question about the vocals, not too much new and innovative happened on their 9th full-length album. The focus lies on a very technical aspect and sometimes they sound a little bit more playful than on the previous albums ('Seraphim Enslavement' is a very good example of it with some really blasting solo and some thrilling melodies in the song). The guitars sound really crunchy and the drums are blasting as hell. Another really catchy and pretty outstanding song because of its high technicality and groovyness is 'Delusions Of Mortality'. First it grinds you down with some fat heavy blasts, then like a roller, it slowly rolls backwards to steamroll the listener and finally with a thunderous attack the song increases speed again.

Where on the previous releases sometimes some more chaotic elements were to be found I have the feeling that the guys started to work a little bit more structured and tried to incorporate some “lighter” elements into the songs just like they started to do on Pinnacle Of Bedlam and …Of Dark Light in some parts already. The guitar work is much more comprehensible and they don't try to appear as brutal as possible during the whole album. Although the term “progressive” is pretty much exaggerated if you think about progressive metal like Dream Theater and such. Nevertheless they catch my attention with some really elaborated melodies and some surprising catchy parts in their songs. 'Dim Veil Of Obscurity' shows these two levels of their songwriting. First of all it is really brutal death metal that totally hits you in your face but if you leave this point of view, you find a lot of more accessible riffs and hooks that want to get explored. And with the title track they finally got a song which might be a worthy follow-up to my all-time fave by Suffocation, namely the first song from their debut album Effigy Of The Forgotten called 'Liege Of Inveracity'. This track completely blew me away back then because of the unbelievable tempo changes and breaks and so does 'Hymns From The Apocrypha'. This song is a little bit like a battered boxer. Sometimes it creeps slowly but steady and then all of a sudden it strikes back with full force and knocks you out.

Coming back to the vocal performance by Myers, if you listen to the re-recording of 'Ignorant Deprivation' where Frank Mullen has a guest appearance I would say it was the best decision to engage him and not to stay with Mullen because his vocals sound very weak in comparison. For me Hymns From The Apocrypha is the best Suffocation album in many many years and I am looking forward to seeing these guys in January on tour.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Hymns

Originally written for metalbite.com

End of an era? - 30%

tarafindan, November 7th, 2023

The first album after the departure of legendary Frank Mullen is finally here. And straight to the point, it's been a let down.

The last two albums of Suffocation (Pinnacle of Bedlam and ...Of the Dark Light) saw some changes. Suffocation was certainly incorporating new elements to their signature sound, but at the end it was still Suffocation. During my 3 times listening to the Hymns from the Apocrypha, I had to check couple of times if I was indeed listening to a Suffocation album. This could have very well been recommended to me (or made under the name) of some other band.

The most obvious "change" is, of course, the vocals. I am by no means expecting Ricky Myers to replace Frank Mullen completely and although he is actually doing a decent job at it, it is not a good fit. His vocals are one-dimensional and don't add much depth to the overall music, all the while lacking originality and being a poor imitation of Mullen. If Suffocation is going to continue with Myers, I'd expect his personal signature to be added but his vocals come across as uninspiring and poorly articulated. To make things worse, Mullen appears on the final track Ignorant Deprivation and his return can go unnoticed because of how eerily similar Myers's vocals are to his.

But the significant change is in the overall composition of Suffocation's sound and songwriting, It is utterly predictable if you are familiar with any modern death metal band. Unfortunately Suffocation's technical prowess is overshadowed by a lack of innovation, and their attempt to blend their old-school brutal death metal style with more structured technical solos and riffs feels forced and doesn't quite hit the mark. This creates, if I may say, a deathcore-y vibe to the whole album, which can be seen as overly complex and convoluted. While the abundance of guitar solos is a nice addition, it feels too alien and I don't think I've ever heard many solos in a Suffocation album before.

The production on this album, in my opinion, doesn't quite hit the mark. It may be powerful and clear, but it lacks character which would make it memorable, while being too polished and wanna-be modern.

Having said all of this, don't get me wrong. This is NOT a bad album. The musicianship of each member is peak. It's just not a Suffocation album.

The birth of a new cycle - 85%

TheNotrap, November 4th, 2023

Rightfully regarded as a seminal and highly influential band in the development of brutal death metal, New Yorkers Suffocation hold a prominent place in extreme metal Olympus, reserved for those who helped shape the sound of modern metal. The blend of brutality and technique displayed on their 1991 debut album, Effigy of the Forgotten, was unprecedented at the time, raising the bar for the technical proficiency required in the newborn subgenre, influencing upcoming generations of musicians to strive for greater technicality. Many key players such as Dying Fetus, Cryptopsy and Devourment have acknowledged Suffocation as a major influence on their music. The innovative slam riffing and tempo breakdowns, as well as Frank's distinctive low-pitched gutturals, established a template that countless other bands would follow. And while it could be argued that Cannibal Corpse were equally important in laying the foundations of brutal death metal, it is undeniable that Suffocation should be revered as one of the genre's founding pillars. But unlike their cannibalistic comrades, who unleash mayhem with remarkable regularity (sixteen LPs and counting), the Long Island boys have been taking their time between releases, spawning a total of eight full-length albums over their thirty-five-year career. A somewhat modest score, but one that raises fan expectations, and in the case of Suffocation's ninth chapter, Hymns From The Apocrypha, the anticipation is amplified, as this is the first time that original vocalist, Frank Mullen, is not behind the mic.

It's never easy to replace a frontman, especially one as charismatic as Frank, so intrinsically linked to the band's DNA, however, as the two singles quickly proved, newcomer Ricky Myers not only fills Frank's shoes remarkably well, he's also responsible for injecting renewed power into Hobbs & Co's music. As if the band reconnected with the nineties. An invigorating new force, easily verified by comparing the re-recording of ʼIgnorant Deprivationʼ, which features Frank on vocals, with the rest of the album. Myers' added value is unquestionable. He's the cog in the wheel that gives the suffo-machine that extra boost, not by adding new features, but by lending it what it really needs to run at full throttle. The new frontman is also responsible for the lyrics, which revolve around supernatural beings who use old writings to trick people into believing they are divine and will one day share eternal life with their creators. Merciless entities whose real aim is to enslave mankind so that they suffer physically and mentally for their own amusement.

Musically, Hymns From The Apocrypha recaptures the nineties with a modern twist and renewed energy, somehow encapsulating the band's thirty-five-year journey. Although the connection to the roots has never been lost, the bridge is now more visible than in previous releases, mainly due to the revitalized songwriting and how it interacts with Myers' gutturals. Everything sounds interconnected and focused, purposely done. The title track and subsequent 'Perpetual Deception' (which evokes 'Jesus Wept') serve as a perfect introduction to the album, while embodying the band's contemporary sound. Constant tempo shifts and intricate riffing, which sometimes expands through multiple layers, set the tone for a record that blends the past and the present in a formula that keeps finding balance between technique and brutality. There's a nice sense of flow throughout Hymns From The Apocrypha, which gives it a somewhat attractive personality and interesting replay value; a more accessible nature that mirrors the boys' up-to-date style, showcasing the modern feel mentioned earlier. Interestingly, the breakdowns and slam sections, featured on tracks like 'Perpetual Deception', 'Immortal Execration' and 'Embrace The Suffering', are among the catchiest moments, often serving as pit stops between vicious blast beat discharges. The early old-school riff in 'Delusions Of Mortality' and the middle section of 'Perpetual Deception', which combines galloping and prog(ish) riffing, are some of my personal highlights, along with the Chuck Schuldiner-esque harmony and subsequent chorus of 'Hymns From The Apocrypha'. Production-wise, the album doesn't disappoint either, displaying a fat, modern sound without diving into overly compressed and inorganic territory. A fitting engineering, handled by the duo Hobbs & Boyer in collaboration with Christian Donaldson, which amplifies the music appropriately.

Thirty-five years after their inception, Suffocation keep spawning their distinctive brand of brutal death metal with razor-sharp precision and unrelenting brutality. Hobbs & Co have become an institution with a sound architecture of their own; a colossal structure that takes on new forms with each new chapter and lineup. However, more than just the latest façade of the suffo-edifice, Hymns From The Apocrypha is the thunderous roar that announces the birth of a new cycle.

Originally written for www.sputnikmusic.com

Still heavy as ever - 89%

Traumawillalwayslinger, November 4th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2023, CD, Nuclear Blast (Europe)

After a long 6 years of silence, the brutal death metal kings themselves Suffocation are back with a monstrous new album called “Hymns From The Apocrypha”. This is their first record without the iconic Frank Mullen, who retired from the band after nearly 30 years with the band. His voice became the sound of Suffocation and was easily recognizable, so I was quite on the fence to some extent when it came to this new record. But fortunately, all those things were squashed because this album is heavy as fuck. Easily surpassing their previous couple of albums for me.

Right from the opening title track you know it’s fucking Suffocation. It’s heavy from the start and it’s heavy to the end. Filled to the brim with crunchy guitar riffage and slams, which is a staple in their sound. The guitars are very powerful when it comes down to production quality, bringing up the technical aspects and beats. Of course, this album is filled with obnoxiously heavy breakdowns that are just so irresistible to not headbang to. The grooves and slams in “Perpetual Deception” are a lovely example of these things. It’s groovy, slammy, and all-around intense. This album just grabs you by the throat and thrashes you around for an entire 41 minutes.

Let’s also bring up Ricky Myers's vocal performance. He is an excellent singer and a great replacement for Frank Mullen. His vocals are deep and guttural, he sounds very similar to Frank in some respects. Especially in the guttural department, his vocals are crispy and are enunciated well. I’m glad they stuck with him, and his background in the legendary Disgorge (California) only backs him up more. Hell even Frank comes back as a guest/session vocalist on the final track “Ignorant Deprivation”. Which is a re-recording from their sophomore album, “Breeding the Spawn”. I didn’t even notice at first because Franks and Ricky’s vocals sound so similar it wasn’t until I truly paid attention that I realized. But he does an absolutely amazing job as he always does, showcasing why he’s one of the most iconic death metal vocalists ever. The song is a great way to close the album out, the breakdowns specifically are reminiscent of those old days of the band.

I really dig the production on here. It’s very powerful and clear yet maintains a strong punch and character. Derek Boyer's bass especially I think sounds really cool, as well as the drums. Which goddamn Eric Morotti beats the absolute fuck out of the drum kit. He’s just relentless with his blast beats and double bass it’s killer, and the snare sound as well is really fucking punchy. Everything about the sound and texture this album gives off just makes me want to bang my head and break something.

Songwriting and approach are what you’d expect from Suffocation. Incredibly technical with a mix of their old-school brutal death metal flare. The more structured technical solos and riffs mix well with their more traditional beatdowns. I feel like they wanted to combine all their best elements into one piece of music, and it worked out exponentially well. Terrance Hobbs is a genius death metal guitarist, he just writes insanely great guitar riffs and songs. His solos also are equally good as their frantic and squealy.

One of my favorites on this album is “Immortal Execration”. It starts off surprisingly slow with an ungodly heavy riff and double bass pattern. Ricky’s vocals creep into the sound and immediately jumpstart the song as it blasts and thrashes around. I love how groovy this song and most songs are on here, it’s one of the main things I look for and look forward to with any brutal death metal band. A catchy riff with a catchy beat along with intense energy that just hits like a damn freight train. Some other good songs are “Embrace the Suffering”, “Delusions of Mortality” and “Seraphim Enslavement”.

Suffocation really made an incredible comeback with “Hymns From The Apocrypha”. It’s the perfect blend of their modern and classic style and material. This year is blooming with incredible death metal albums and legendary acts returning to slaughter anyone who listens to them. Suffocation is one of my favorite bands of all time and this album is no exception to their amazing discography. Check it out if you haven’t. A great record.