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Talent Alone is Insufficient - 57%

Falconsbane, March 19th, 2005

With the passing of time, I find myself increasingly wary of received opinion, of what "they" say. Many factors have contributed to my personal cynicsm, but I have no doubt that part of it results from the fact that "they" say that "Pierced From Within" is one of the great masterpieces of death metal. As usual, "they" are full of shit.

Suffocation is one of those bands that everyone name drops; but I have a hard time believing many people actually listen to them (the Pixies of death metal?). I suspect a few people keep their records on the shelf for the same reason others keep the phone number of that black dude they once smoked up with in college. "I'm not racist, I listen to Suffocation!" Beyond the dubious originality of their work (much of their style is derivative of Morpheus Descends and Baphomet), Suffocation have always suffered from the common flaw of most second tier bands; they're fucking boring.

In this respect, "Pierced From Within" is no different. Spinning this disc leaves no doubt that you're dealing with a group of highly competent, professional musicians, they execute archetypal American "technical" death metal with ease, stuttering and chugging and changing direction with a casual flare. It's death metal as science. Unfortunately, what they forgot was the art. Underneath the precision and the expertise lies nothing but tepid pit fare. In the grand populist tradition, this is music for motion, music for your toes, your fingers, your neck. It's not music for the mind or the heart.

Where "Pierced From Within" succeeds is as a statement of violant alienation and rage at a world gone mad. And even this aspect isn't fully realized, as much of the power and punch are sucked out by studio vampire Scott Burns' trademark sans testicles mix. The truth is, there's nothing terrible here (other than the mix), but if you're looking for thunderous, rhythmic death metal with real vision, this isn't it. You're far better off with "Into the Grave" or "The Erosion of Sanity."