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A Strong Reformation - 85%

Petrus_Steele, April 19th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2004, CD, Relapse Records

Souls to Deny marks the return and reform of the legendary death metal artist, Suffocation. Six years after the disaster that was Despise the Sun, which marked the split of the band due to whatever personal reasons and mismanagement, the band not only almost returned to their original form, delivering yet another quality record, but the lineup is almost as the one that dates all the way back to 1990, the Reincremated days. While Josh Barohn, the original bassist was talked about returning to reform the band at its original form, both parties (the band and him) couldn't come to terms, unfortunately. And so, by not being able to reunite with the original bassist anymore and leaving the band empty-handed without a bassist, both Mike & Terrance had to jump in and record the bass, while additionally Guy Marchais, the guitarist from another two brutalities, Pyrexia and Internal Bleeding joined the band. At the end of the day, they recruited one Derek Boyer, the California bassist from Decrepit Birth and Deprecated, after the album's release.

As the guys reformed and put themselves on a proper path again, Souls to Deny reintroduced the good old brutality we all know and love, with the good old adhesive technicality and addition of catchy melodies and prominent pitch harmonics, along with Mike's rapid blast beats and Frank's death growls of greatness. Nothing to comment about the bass since I believe by not being able to recruit any other bassists, Mike & Terrance played the bass in the simplest way possible without anything fancy for the purpose of just recording a new album and putting themselves back in business.

I like how the album begins with the ending of the last track, Tomes of Acrimony and then initially starts with Deceit, the opening track. It's like the album is on an endless, repeating cycle. For the opening track itself, it starts off with strong and consistent blast beats and prompt cymbals, along the groovy guitar riffs. The chorus is pretty melodic; both instrumentally and vocally, and the bridge unleashes Frank's growls of devastation. The title track begins with people's souls being denied, screaming in agony as Frank commemorates his death growls in different variations; growling the title track, along with horrific background music. As the actual song starts, it's repetitively the same lyrics and music except for the bridge that is different. Other than that, it's a pretty long and heavy track. The music video and/or the only single, Surgery of Impalement presents more technicality, amazing guitar solo, and even stronger blast beats. The bridge shoots out immense pitch harmonics as the music slows down a bit. Demise of the Clone is just all-around an astounding track! It's self-explanatory. And finally, my favorite track, Tomes of Acrimony - that's the fucking shit right there! Just listen to it...

Much like Breeding the Spawn, I'm not sure if the guys ever realized the true art and material they wrote in Souls to Deny; taking things to another philosophical level. Once again growling about oneself and in perspective but really more about corruption, or perhaps this album should be deemed as their most personal record lyrically, as much as I would say this is where the band really matured when it comes to the production - more than Pierced from Within. I also might be in the strong minority, if I'm not the only one - but I think this album offers more than Pierced from Within. I'm not implying Pierced from Within is bad, because while it's good and unbeatable and Souls to Deny doesn't even come close in comparison, I think Souls to Deny simply offered more in the brutality and technical department, as well as different musical substance and fresh ideas.

The tracks I found to be weak: To Weep Once More sounds too simple and promotes an underwhelming listen, other than the powerful pitch harmonics. While Subconsciously Enslaved is probably the most melodic track on the record, it's not as heavy as the other tracks. It's groovier in some aspects, too, and has the strongest bass, yet failed to deliver excitement and brutality other tracks on the album have. Immortally Condemned, the longest track; long and forgettable.

When I first tried the album I honestly didn't like it, by only liking Demise of the Clone at first, but I never denied the album’s full potential, and I guess now, writing this review, this album grew on me a lot. I don’t know how many people liked Suffocation’s latter albums in comparison to Souls to Deny, but I found this album to be the band’s best of the new millennia. After this masterpiece, everything is a fluctuation of downgrades.

Best tracks are Deceit, the title track, Surgery of Impalement, Demise of the Clone, and the mightiness that is Tomes of Acrimony. Take my word for it, this album offers more in-depth, instrumentally and lyrically, in just only eight tracks - more than most of the next four records.

An Awesome Return for the Legends - 70%

BroodleBrain, October 5th, 2006

After a long six year hiatus without hearing any new material from New York brutal technical Death Metal legends Suffocation, the scene was getting saturated with “Suffo-clones”. And so when I first caught wind of their impending “reunion” (minus Cerrito and Richards), I was excited. It was time for the legends and curators of brutal Death Metal to return and crush all their imitators. Not only that, but one of my favorite drummers of all time was coming back in Mike Smith. Suffocation last left us with their mouth watering EP, “Despise the Sun”, and it proved a great mix of the old, early 90’s and “Pierced from Within” styles. So what would “Souls to Deny” serve us? The answer is plenty more great metal to dig your teeth into.

There’s no doubt about it when you first put it in your stereo, it certainly is Suffocation, but this time there are musical changes that must be noticed. First is obviously the departure of Doug Cerrito. Listen to the guitars and speed on almost all of Effigy and the beginning of Breeding. That is mostly the work of Cerrito. The well structured, blast beat focused writing, with an emphasis on the riff at a fast pace. He did it in such an over the top technical way. But the end of Breeding and quite a few sections on Pierced, we hear the writing of Terrence Hobbs, who has a slower structure with off-time drumming and more harmonic approach.

The later is pretty much what we get on “Souls to Deny” Blast beats are sporadic through out the album, as the focus is on harmonic guitars, sometimes playing two different parts simultaneously. This approach is what makes Souls slightly different than every other Suffocation album. However great song structures, a staple of every Suffocation release thus far, is still present and their still are plenty of brutal breakdowns. The drumming of Mike Smith is great as usual, as he bashes the hell out of his kit. He actually had a pretty long absence from extreme metal, which makes his performance all the more awesome!

On that same note though, it seems a few sections of the music is rehashed from previous releases. “Subconsciously Enslaved” is the one song that stick out as sounding like much of Pierced. But for the most part this album is where Suffocation tried a new approach and it works just fine in my opinion.

One of the complaints from a lot of people including me is the production. Though nothing as scary as Breeding’s, the vocals aren’t so hot. At first listen I thought the vocals were coming from behind me as I sat in front of the stereo. And odd mix is definitely to blame for that. Also I feel as though Frank Mullen isn’t as intense as on previous releases. The instruments are mixed well, and everything can be heard real well including both guitars, as one needs to make the separation through each speaker to get the proper feel for the music.

I really feel this album is underrated, though at the same time it’s not even close to their best. The whole Suffocation discography is so amazing that no one could actually believe that Suffocation would top Effigy or Pierced. This is definitely an unusual album to make your return with, it almost feels as though it should have been written right after “Despise the Sun”. After six years with no new material, fans certainly were looking for an album in the older intense blast beat style yet still expanding their sound with a great deal of originality. Yet Suffocation came at you and wrote an album full of slower structures and harmonic riffing which threw the fans off. All in all “Souls to Deny” is a hell of a return for the legends and a must have for all Suffocation fans, and fans of technical Death Metal.

They're Back... - 94%

GoatSlaughter, May 4th, 2005

Souls to Deny, arguably the most highly anticipated death metal album of 2004. Suffocation have been on hiatus for quite some time, and at first I was skeptical as to whether they would be able to release a solid album after all this time. Now that I’ve listened to this CD however, I can say that I was foolish for doubting the musical genius of these incredibly influential death metal pioneers. This album is a nearly flawless piece of modern death metal.

The production is very clear and allows all the instruments to be accented well. The vocals are great. At first I thought they needed to be a little more guttural or distorted, but after repeated listens I’ve realized that Mullen’s vocal style still fits perfectly with the music. The thing that really attracts me to the vocals however is how they deliver the lyrics with such power. The guitars are where this album shines brightest though. The riffing is done at varying paces and is extremely technical. The tone produced by the guitars couldn’t be more appropriate. The solos are very enjoyable as well.

Drum-work on this release is incredible as usual, featuring fast and brutal blasts, but a hell of a lot more innovative instrumentation as well. This keeps the drumming from getting monotonous and boring as with many death metal acts, but still allows for plenty of mandatory brutal blasting moments. The bass is the only thing that doesn’t stand out on this album. This is probably due to the fact that Derek Boyer hadn’t joined the band during the recording of this album, so Hobbs and Smith had to perform the bass duties. The basslines are audible at least, and their low-end sound helps maintain the heaviness of the music.

This album as a whole was very enjoyable, and a lot better than what I had expected. It proves that Suffocation still know how to play heavier, more technical, and a lot more originally than most of these cookie cutter, gore-obsessed death bands populating the scene these days. Let’s just hope that Suffocation continue to make similar music for their next album and don’t let all this new media attention lead them astray.

How a comeback should sound. - 83%

orphy, March 9th, 2005

Attention all bands that are planning on reuniting and recording a new album: Look to Suffocation's "Souls to Deny". It's a textbook example of what a band should do when reuniting; making some music that's in perfect gear to the band's previous material.

Anyway, this album is really quite good. It opens up with "Deceit", which gives a basic rundown of the album; great riffs and breakdowns, some slick drumming, and gutteral vocals which any death metal fan will be able to decipher. The bass is pretty much in the right part of the mix, and is easy to find. Anyway, back to the opening track. Near the end, we get some weird, melodic sounding part where the song just dies down for about 3 seconds... then you get served. I liked that. Suffocation definataly know how to do proper twists in their song structures.

Speaking of song structures, Suffocations are definately to die for. Everything seems to be set up so well. And did I mention a good deal of the riffage is pretty technical? We get some slightly odd time signatures, the title track being a good example. Everything is nicely layered and gives a very brutally textured, percussive sound.

Now, looking at the production on this album, I cannot complain. It's not as thick or chunky sounding compared to early Suffocation material, but it's just a tad cleaner than their EP "Despise The Sun". You can easily distinguish the riffs, which may make this album a bit more friendly to newer fans of Suffocation or brutal death metal in general.

All in all, there are really no flaws on this album. It keeps you interested, and you want to keep coming back to it. I know I've listened to it a good number of times, and am proud to have purchased it. Slap on some incredible artwork by the great Dan Seagrave, you've got yourself an album. One of the best death metal releases from 2004 ladies and gentlemen, coming from one of the best in their genre.

They've returned. - 70%

Cheeses_Priced, December 27th, 2004

Count me among those who where not looking forward to the Suffocation reunion. As a rule, I don’t think band reunions are such a sharp idea – once a band’s creative inertia is spent, it’s a safe bet that it’s not coming back. Band reunions that fail to include a primary songwriting in the band seem like an especially bad idea.

Still, I ended up buying this (actually, I listed it as an alternate in an order from Unique Leader – nice service, but getting two alternates out of four discs ordered seems awfully peculiar). I must admit it impressed me on first listen. The band’s sound didn’t change much during their hiatus; pretty much everything that made old Suffocation enjoyable is present here, more or less, and it’s still done better than most of their imitators have managed. Other bands have mostly been offering one-dimensional extrapolations of Suffocation’s sound; while there are others that are more “technical” or “brutal” or what have you, very few can handle songwriting or compositions nearly as well. For death metal circa 2004, this is well above-average.

That said, this thing’s been spending an awful lot of time on the CD rack since I got it. Suffocation’s something of a staple in my listening habits, but the old albums have been beating this one hands down for stereo time. So what’s missing?

Well, obviously Doug Cerrito is missing. It does seem a little presumptuous to assume “Souls” would have been more satisfying if he were still in the band, though. Maybe we should just commend him for having the wisdom to move on.

Musically, what’s missing is a lot of the imagination and creativity the band had before. Compared to past efforts, “Souls to Deny” is more straightforward, more predictable, seemingly more repetitive, and otherwise more simple and safe in general. One might also note the presence of a lot of riffs that sound as if they were recycled almost verbatim out of Suffocation’s back catalog.

In short, don’t buy this unless you already own the rest of their albums.

This is quite good... - 86%

Snxke, May 20th, 2004

When I got the promotional copy of this in the mail the first thing I noticed was the stunning nature of the artwork. The album itself is constructed extremely well in terms of layout and it seemed for once, as if a comeback record was being given the time and effort it deserved - at least from the standpoint of the band and label co-ordinating the record and trying to make it fully stocked, and relevant to the era it was being released in. It's obvious that this is not just a group of lost (*cough*any 80's thrash reunion*cough*) musicians who decided to "throw down" just because they couldn't figure out anything better to do. This record, to my pleasent suprise, is a masterwork from the death metal legends.

Thankfully, the music was just as stunning as the artwork. The Voivod-ian jazz runs, triple-speed drum hits and thick-and-brutal guitar work is all in place...but this time with a stronger production than previously heard. It's obvious that this is a band that isn't willing to slow down, dry up or sell out. The lyrics are typically constructed, the riffwork complex, the production well-spaced (and lacking the crap Scott Burns ideology) and the drumming diverse and battering...Suffocation are back humans!

My only complaint with the record is a slightly odd vocal mix that finds the vocals being a tad over-compressed and seperated from the rest of the mix. This though, is a minor issue compared to the beastly performance given by the vocalist. If the mix on these vocals had been slightly more explosive this might have been marked about all the technical death metal albums released in the past few years. (The award going suprisingly, to Cannibal Corpse this year for their stunning comeback.) Take nothing away from the band though, Suffocation are here to break faces and take names.

It's been a long time, has it not?

This was a nessecary record for both Suffocation and death metal genre in a broad sense. It challenges a past legacy without even attempting to rewrite it. The vibe, the musicianship and the intelligent construction that existed in the early years is alive and well on this release.

Not Particularly Impressed - 75%

SomberOracle, May 3rd, 2004

I've been a big fan of Suffocation for awhile now, and when this album came out I had to go get it, even being sketchy about a new Suffocation album minus Doug Cerrito.

The first song "deceit" is really nothing special and just seems generic and uninspired from start to finish. The second song "To Weep Once More" im not sure if this is done on purpose or what exactly, but im positive the opening riff is taken from one of their older songs, I cant remember which one exactly, but its pretty much copy pasted into this song. I actually like the title track to this album, it has some pretty badass riffs that stand out at certain points. "Surgery of Impalement" follows, nothing you havent heard thousands of times before. "demise of the clone" seems decent, some of the filler riffs and transitions are good, but everything in between that gets a little boring. "Subconsciously Enslaved" has some points, but as the rest of the album does it just seems to drag genericlly most of the time. "Immortally Condemend" has some decent riffs later in the song. Finally "Tomes of Acrimony" which appearently the lyrics were written by Keith DeVito the guy from Pyrexia I suppose, its really nothing diffrent from at the beggining then about a minute into the song some baddass riffs come in. Id say the title track in this last one Tomes of Acrimony are the strongest points of this album.

Overall with this long break they took, Without Doug Cerrito, and appearently this album was self produced so minus Scott Burns, Im pretty disappointed with this release. I really wanted to like this album, none of these songs really have any riffs or solos that stand out at all, it just seems like a big generic and uninspired mess to me. If you are a big fan of Suffocation's older stuff I doubt you'll find this release as appealing, on the other hand, some may enjoy this, who knows.

Destined to be praised regardless of the quality - 79%

Xenocide, April 30th, 2004

While this is certainly Suffocation coming out of my speakers I cannot help but feel somewhat let down by Souls To Deny. Maybe it is the fact that they sound exactly as I remember them, as ludicrous as that may sound. I suppose I expected 8 years, give or take, to push them in somewhat of a new direction. I would not want them to completely abandon everything that made them the band they were, but to just give me another album of exactly the same thing is not what I wanted either. If I wanted to here "Effigy Of The Forgotten" or "Pierced From Within" I would listen to them. You have been out of the running for a lot of years guys, this is not the time to get conservative, but rather it is the time to show us that you can still be innovative and relevant. Maybe this sound is just showing its age. With fresh Death Metal bands like Decapitated releasing an incredible album like The Negation, it is quite possible that there is no place for a reunited Suffocation. There in lies the problem with "comeback" albums. When a band sticks together, the good ones at least, they progress they get better and remain relevant in the genre, but when a band has been out of the loop for several years and then tries to return the results are almost always bad in one of two ways. The first possibility is that they try to pick up where they left off and end up releasing an album completely derivative of what they used to be. The problem with this scenario is that in the time since their break-up, a number of knock-offs and wanna-bes have sprung up, and by the time their "comeback" album comes out people are so sick of that sound they do not want any more of it. Even if it is coming from the band that started it all. The second possibility is that they simply do not have it any more, and they release an album that is neither up to the standard of their past work, or an album that does little in the way of expanding their music in a respectable manner. I believe "Souls To Deny" falls in the first category.

This album is by no means a bad album. It is an effective combination of past work. There are some quality songs on this album "Deceit" comes to mind as well as "Tomes of Acrimont" which has an awesome intro. This album is a logical continuation of the more technical approach that began with "Pierced From Within" and was explored further on the "Despise The Sun" EP. Perhaps my biggest issue with this release is Mullen's vocal performance. To my ears his performance doesn't have near the energy of past albums. I always considered Mullen to be one of my favorite death metal vocalists, but for others this may not be such a big deal.

Overall, I think this album is a fine Suffocation album if it were still 1998. However, by releasing a very conservative album like this, that is remaining well within the realm of their prior established sound, I think they have done themselves a disservice. None of this is going to matter to a lot of people. A number of individuals are going to be just so thrilled to have Suffocation back it won't matter. It's kind of like Morbid Angel. Because they are Morbid Angel they get a free pass to release completely boring Death Metal albums. Meanwhile, a band like Hate Eternal releases a VERY similar album to "Heretic" and they become the laughing stock of Death Metal. Much in the same way if this album were released by any other band it more than likely wouldn't be a blip on the radar, but it is Suffocation, why do you think I gave it a 79? Should there be another album I look forward to seeing if Suffocation can reestablish themselves, and prove that they are still as relevant today as they were when they began.

I'm fuckin speechless... SUFFOCATION! RARRR!! - 90%

chaossphere, April 6th, 2004

Ahh yes, Suffocation. The band who single-handedly took death metal to a new level of violence with their early-90's efforts and then cemented their crown as the reigning kings of brutality with the timeless 1995 masterpiece Pierced From Within. With their first studio effort in 9 years after a recent reformation, there was a lot of weight on their shoulders to deliver an album that lives up to the legacy of those old classics (1993's underproduced flop Breeding The Spawn notwithstanding), but i'm glad to say that they've risen to the challenge and thrown down a gauntlet of their own. The past masters of extremity have delivered 8 songs which will once again secure their place on the blood-soaked throne of death metal.

It would really be pointless to focus on individual songs, since every one of these tracks is an instant classic in it's own right. Not content with re-cloning the dozens of bands who've ripped off their sound, Suffocation instead returns to a perfect balance of all era's of their previous incarnation. Despite numerous lineup changes, and the absence of one of their principle songwriters Doug Cerrito, Souls To Deny is an obvious blend of the insane fury of Effigy Of The Forgotten, the bludgeoning technical madness of Pierced From Within, and the grinding intensity of their final EP Despise The Sun. One major improvement comes from original drummer Mike Smith, who obviously spent the last 10 years practicing his ass off, because here he simply blows away all his previous performances in a frenzy of blastbeats, double-bass abuse and stunning fills. The songs, meanwhile, are based on the usual construct of speed-driven riffing contrasted by slower, grind-inspired
"breakdown" riffs, headspinning technicality and belching vocals. Aside from a bit of extra melody (and I mean a bit, and I don't mean gay recycled Iron Maiden solo's ala Gothenburg Inc.) there's nothing here that hasn't been done before, which is just the way I like it. Rather than playing with some stupid envelope, Suffocation have opted to set it on fire and crush your skull instead.

The production, too, is near-perfect considering the small timeframe they had to record this disc - the guitars aren't quite as sharp as they were on Despise The Sun, but they compensate with a shitload of weight and low-end power, while the drums manage to remain clear without resorting to the "clicky typewriter" sound so prevalant these days. If anything, this is how Effigy Of The Forgotten would sound were it remixed and remastered using modern technology. It seems 2004 is becoming an excellent year for death metal, and Suffocation just upped the ante by several miles. Note that i'm writing this review based on low-quality advance mp3s, so dog only knows how much more powerful this album is going to sound when it's released on CD in May.

Nothing special, but I expected worse.. - 75%

Sportswear, April 3rd, 2004

Well, to be totally honest with you, I am not the biggest Suffocation fan on the planet. They have shaped a lot of the Death Metal scene, this much is true and for that I respect them, but I still find them a bit overrated and are not the band people bang on about. For this reason I have never heavily got into them. Effigy and Pierced are both considered hallmarks in the history of death metal by many people, possibly true, but either way I am not too fussed on them. For this label they are given alone means that the expectancy and demand for this LP is very high indeed. And for that reason I expected it to be totally average or just plain boring.

Well, the first song is “Deceit”, it starts off quietly getting louder, some nice blastbeats and simple guitar work. Then on 35 seconds it hits you with a killer riff. Vocals kick in soon after. The song is simple, but tight as fuck and runs smoothly. “FUCK, is this honestly going to be a good LP?” was my initial reaction as that first riff was played and the song diverged on from the intro. Great middle part to this song, slower in tempo, simple drumming but a great chuggy part that keeps you interested.

The next song “To Weep Once More” starts off more simple, this is when I start to notice the difference between this LP and their “classic” LPs. This is a bit more simple, but still very well played. The song structure is simple but put together very well. Great moment just past the 3rd minute. The vocals in general are no way near as good as Effigy etc, but still good.

The title track and starts off with a sample scream which is overlapped with great growling that gets louder and louder, though this is possibly the only brutal/evil part of LP, which is a shame. :-/ The song drops in and is pretty classy. The inter change riff work half way through digresses brilliantly, great tempo change just after the 4 minute mark.

Not totally fond of the solo on “Surgery Of Impalement”, actually no, it is crap. But the song is cool. As the LP goes on, you do start to see flaws and wish it was sped up in places and the time changes were constructed more professionally. But as far as song writing goes, this LP is great for that aspect.

This LP is not going to make history, but the odd song is pretty cool. “Subconsciously Enslaved” is a fucking cool song, great groove and tempo throughout.

The solo on the minute mark on “Immortally Condemned” is fucking awful, but the switch up in style soon after is pretty good. There is something about the drumming throughout that doesn’t strike me as powerful enough, hmm, needs to be more brutally executed. The solo late on in this song is a great improvement to the other one.

The last song “Tomes Of Acrimont” starts of brilliantly, nice solo work, exceptional tempo. Possibly my favourite song on the LP. Not a bad solo halfway through. Great thing is, this song and the LP ends in the same way it started. Good shit.

All in all I was pretty surprised with this release, a lot better than I expected yet nothing jaw dropping at all and needs to be more all out brutality. When it comes out, check it out.