Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Review; Suffocation - Pinnacle Of Bedlam

Track Listing;

1. Cycles Of Suffering
2. Purgatorial Punishment
3. Eminent Wrath
4. As Grace Descends
5. Sullen Days
6. Pinnacle Of Bedlam
7. My Demise
8. Inversion
9. Rapture Of Revocation
10. Beginning Of Sorrow

New York Death Metal legends Suffocation have been on an impressive run since their 2003 reunion, the three albums that have followed this reunion; "Souls To Deny", "Suffocation", and "Blood Oath" have all been excellent albums, but didn't do justice to their early work such as their trump card "Effigy Of The Forgotten".

"Pinnacle of Bedlam" is a true monster of an album, right from the start. There's no build-up, no intro track, instead it launches straight into the brutality with the headstrong abandon that one wants from Death Metal. It shows a band that is capable to both change with the times as well as stay true to their own established sound. The album has a modern sound, as highlighted by the excellent production value. The album is a fast mover with a running time just shy of 40 minutes. As opposed to the past three albums, which have consisted of slower, more crushing songs, this record is almost constantly going at break-neck speed, pummelling the listener with blast-beat drumming and technical riffs.

Suffocation were considered to have broke new ground in Technical Death Metal when they released "Effigy Of The Forgotten" back in 1991, and it never ceases to amaze that they manage to remain so relevant to their scene, which is over-populated with bands playing music that is so technical that it often comes across as soulless self-indulgence. Suffocation manage to write music that is both technically proficient and full of the snarling conviction that is so essential to great Death Metal. My personal favourite display of this is in the title-track 'Pinnacle of Bedlam" which goes through tempo changes, great riffs and never loses its sense of attack. The re-recording of "Beginning of Sorrow" sits perfectly beside the nine new tracks, and shows that the band is still at the top of their game.

It comes as no surprise that the band's trademark breakdowns are still prevalent throughout the album, and are still as brutal as ever. The band had great influence upon the Deathcore sub-genre, so it is great to hear that they can show them all how it's done. as great and technical as the music itself is, it doesn't take away from the vocal delivery of Frank Mullen, whose voice definitely hasn't lost its edge with age. Whilst death growls are heard a lot in the Metal scene today, Mullen's ability to keep his lyrics clear and intelligible despite his deep vocal style makes him stand out from the crowd.

The speed and constant battering that this album gives makes it somewhat tricky to pick out a favourite song, and this listener is left feeling that the record is best enjoyed as a whole. There is nothing in the album that is not consistently great and interesting, from the guitars and bass to the percussion, it's all quality music. Unpredictable, not in the sense that it's a departure from the band's usual sound, but that there are many twists and turns, with great effective changes in tempos. If you're not banging your head to this or running straight into the mosh pits at the gigs, you're probably deaf.

Rating: 7.5/10

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