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The album that bridged deathcore and beatdown hardcore - 90%

GuardAwakening, July 22nd, 2019

Suffokate really caught lightening in a bottle here, a gorgeous accident combining beatdown hardcore and deathcore songs onto one crushing full length album. This record is 10 tracks (12 if you're listening to the reissue) of pure pummeling heaviness. Tracks like "Slaughter Your Enemies" and "Every Crisis Faced" are bruising beatdown tracks, while "Forever" and "The Wrath" are stunning, near-technical inducing deathcore bangers. The result of these two worlds coming together seems to be an accident. Most people tend to refer to Oakland as simply a deathcore album, but this is incorrect. It is, in fact, a combination of deathcore and beatdown hardcore, and it was about to change the entire world of most genres forever years after its release.

It isn't hard to understand that Suffokate were initially attempting to be a west coast hardcore band with strong influences from New York's beatdown hardcore offshoot (examples of such NY bands include Bulldoze and Irate). This album's first few tracks couldn't make that more obvious. Coming up on the blueprints, something happened though; their riffs were just a tad too brutal and metal-influenced, they started incorporating death metal influence on a few select songs which spawned early deathcore through the hybridization and chemistry of the members' musical inspirations. I would not at all be surprised if one of the two guitarists on this album is a At the Gates and Possessed-sort of guy, nor would I not be surprised if at least two members were listening to a lot of Irate, 25 ta Life and Billy Club Sandwich when writing this record. There's so many parts where a track comes on and I can't tell if I'm listening to beatdown or a early deathcore album. Oakland is a spectacular experience and in the beatdown world, I feel like it's truly a underappreciated album.

This was a album long before Suffokate was gaining Tumblr clout for Ricky Hoover's huge earlobes. Wait... Ricky Hoover? Who is that again? There is no Hoover on this album, instead the vocals on this goliath of a record are handled by two Oakland-native boys; Carlos Guiterez and Jared Armitage, each one possessing a distinct growl and shout style, much like the album's formula, the vocals as well are a hybrid of hardcore's bark and death metal's monstrous growl vocals. The end result, especially when performed by two thuglike individuals is a menacing vocal performance fit to forefront the entire bruising package.

Drum performance gets a lot of love from me as well, whether it's during those long sustained beatdown-esque notes the guitarists do or the early deathcore-style melodic riffery, somehow that clanky snare fits for both worlds. Some moments of some of these songs don't even sound like the same album at times, but the sound of the drums nor its playing style ever differs much when the band are swaping between styles.

Isn't it weird how I got this far into a "deathcore" album review and sitll haven't talked about the breakdowns? Oh yeah, they're amazing too. This is pre-MySpace stuff so this was before bands cashed in on having as many breakdowns as possible, instead it was left to the musician's descretion to decide when the crowdkills should begin and I can't really complain about a single breakdown on here. Every single breakdown is perfectly placed. My favorite kinds of breakdowns in these kinds of bands are the ones to break up the monotony; as soon as the music starts to feel even slightly tedious, a good breakdown can always rescue the song's potential and bring the listener back to banging his or her head. Suffokate has mastered that art perfectly on this album and do so throughout almost the entire runtime. Listening to a lot of albums from front to back tends to bore me, but Oakland with its dual-genre style and crafty use of breakdowns, I can honorably declare this the prime anti-boring album.

Not that long ago Suffokate generally got a lot of hate by people who aren't kids with stretched lobes in Oceano shirts, and I can understand why. They're a deathcore band that aren't, by any means, going to change your mind if you dislike deathcore. But this album is a goddamn gem, as I've said before earlier in the review, I don't even personally declare this record really a "deathcore" record as much as it is incredible accident gone so horribly right and just happened to meld NY-style beatdown hardcore with Swedeath riffs and all at once created a early prototype of deathcore by doing so and (all the while this was going on) merged the tropes of deathcore and beatdown into one. This is a brutal-ass album.