Suffocation (United States Of America) – Pierced From Within

It took me a couple years with this album, but I finally ‘got’ Suffocation, which I guess I’m thankful for, at least since I now get to know what the big deal is.  Being raised on Cryptopsy and other speedy brutal death metal bands, I always sort of failed to recognize exactly why Suffocation was so widely revered and appreciated.  And though I’m still not particularly amazed by them, I do appreciate what they’ve done and where they’re coming from with albums like this.

The thing about Suffocation is that, apart from simple stuff like ‘Thrones Of Blood’, they’re a pretty abstract brutal death metal band, perhaps one of the most abstract in the style.  The riffs are generally strange and awkward, and along with the lopsided, hammering drum performance, there’s very little in the way of organic flow.  Even the vocals have erratic patterns.  So coming from a fast brutal death and slam sound primarily, I had trouble getting into this; it was more like Gorguts circa ‘From Wisdom To Hate’ than Devourment.  After a while though, you get into the strange, otherworldly feel of the music.  Most Suffocation fans are pretty dumb, so I’m not sure how they handle music like this unless they just zone out until a breakdown kicks in.

It’s not really ‘fun’ music, and it’s probably the most alien sort of thing in the brutal death field apart from bands who took the general idea of claustrophobic, atonal riffs and fill-laden drumming and turned them into a lifestyle like early Fleshgrind or Deaden.  Groove and ‘normal’ death metal moments are few and far between, with the band acting in favor of excessive yet restrained technicality and almost mind-bendingly flat production, like the band is daring you to try and understand what’s going on.  The guitar tone is nothing but bass and distortion and the playing alternates between winding tremolo riffs and slow, convoluted chug sections while the rest of the band… pretty much does the same thing on their respective instruments.

I don’t really like this album very much but I can certainly appreciate the amount of time and effort that has to go into composing such abstract and unusual music.  Suffocation clones never end up sounding like Suffocation typically because what’s here is so hard to replicate: a band deliberately attempting to not be understood by the average member of the audience.  After they reformed Suffocation pretty much ended up doing mass-appeal brutal death metal with only a thin sheen of their previous sound, but this is pretty cool even if I pretty much never want to put it on.

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~ by noktorn on July 22, 2008.

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