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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.