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Pure Sonic "Torment" - 85%

Akerfeldt_Fanboi, December 7th, 2010

Suffocation is one of those bands that can virtually do no wrong. Sure, nothing can or ever will top the raw ferocity of Effigy of the Forgotten, but everything Suffocation releases has either been fantastic or some chromatic shade of furious brutal death metal.


As with the glorious Effigy and the neglected Breeding the Spawn before this, Pierced From Within is a sharp and fizzy album littered with monstrous riffery and what is virtually Suffocation's anthem in the title track. Seriously, how can you not nearly break your neck at the breakdown? Then those solos? Terrance Hobbs is seriously a maniacal genius when it comes to the guitar; always combining the standard trem bar wank of death metal with obtuse and terrifying scalar runs and vibrato from hell. The man can do no wrong, seemingly.


Not to discount Doug Cerrito's formidable chops: his solo work and menacing riff contributions equalize Terrance Hobbs's overall chaotic mastermind.


Another thing I should bring up before I desecrate this most sacred of albums, people like to discredit Doug Bohn. Yeah we get it he's not Mike Smith and as such people get sort of butthurt over nothing, when he gives an extremely proficient and intense performance. Definitely one of the highlights of the album.


Most people remember this album simply off of the title track, and to be honest it's clearly the best song on the album, but there more than a couple killers on this album. Sadly the track following the title, "Thrones of Blood", is fairly mediocre though when the rumbling bass and eventual monster of the classic Suffocation sound in "Depths of Depravity" rams into you headlong, you'll be taken over in no time.


Speaking of the title track, Frank Mullen's vocals are definitely worse on this album than on the previous two. It seems he experimented with higher vocals, when his brutal gutturals on Effigy and Breeding were both excellent and fit extremely well with the sound of the band.


Now, if you take a gander at my review of Effigy of the Forgotten you will know that that is simply my favorite death metal album of all time, and that the combination of grindcore pacing, furious riffing, and the periphery of hate and evil atmosphere that the production allows all equate to it being pretty much nearly perfect.


What makes Pierced From Within not the best is that each song lacks its own atmosphere, groove, motif, or whatever that every single song on the debut held. Generally what you're getting is a dense album with some songs running around the same territories as others (such as Suspened In Tribulation having very similar riffs to tracks 2, 3, and 4).


The sudden burst of technical prowess is also hindering, since the band hadn't yet quite found its niche with the combination of Effigy-style brutality and this album's overall insanity, and as such kind of plays itself as a one-trick pony, and while Effigy was in the same situation, this album's one trick is far less impressive and awe-inspiring.


However, that being said, the album still has absolute MONSTER riffs. Seriously, how can you say "no" to the beginning of "Synthetically Revived" and the pure mayhem in the first few riffs of "Brood of Hatred"?


I've already mentioned the genre-defining epic that is the title track. Fantastic riff after thrashing riff after chaos and doom...so perfect. And, the brooding intro to "Torn Into Enthrallment" almost makes up for the general awfulness of the song. Don't get me wrong, when Suffo does doomy, it rules, but this just seems like a haphazard of riffs.


Such classic songs deserve respect, though with bombs like tracks 4-6 it's hard to justify this as the best Suffocation album. Do not forget that this is a strange album in that it bookends with its amazing material, and leaves the shitfests for the middle. Some call that a bonus, but hell, I don't.


Overall, this album is way too imperfectly balanced to constitute an amazing album. It opens with the best track, then follows with another great song in Track 3, until it drops considerably with the mid-album material, then returns somewhat to hold your sway only until the end.


Pros:

- Title Track. Seriously. Fantastic song
- The guitar tone is considerably better than on Effigy
- The solo work is phenomenal
- Drumming
- Intro to "Torn Into Enthrallment"


Cons:

- Frank's vocals were weaker on this album than on previous and forthcoming albums.
- Very awkward song order choice, resulting in you listening to Track 1, then stopping.
- Couldn't dedicate to their previous utter brutality or newfound technicality, and the songwriting suffers for it.