Suffocation – “…Of The Dark Light” (Nuclear Blast)
Along with Immolation, Suffocation are one of New York’s longest running and greatest death metal bands since the late 80s. Evolving in line with the genre to become increasingly more technical, albeit in subtle phases, Suffocation are widely regarded for pioneering slow stop-start phases known as ‘breakdowns’ which the band use to lethal effect here, not just to add superbly well timed tempo changes within their song arrangements, but also to blend one song into one another such as on the opener ‘Clarity Through Deprivation’ where the breakdown towards the end amid a wailing tremolo guitar takes you straight into ‘The Warmth Within The Dark’! Another area that impresses is the title track ‘Of The Dark Light’, opening brutally but then moving into a macabre ambient piece with deep bass and hushly spoken vocals while the twisting guitars add the final sinister dimension to this atmospheric piece. Clearly moving on from the old school days of diddly dee metal – although the cookie monster vocals remain – this masterful handling of their style attests to both the band’s maturity but also the seasoned experience gained from years of relentless touring and one of the reasons it’s taken 4 years for this 8th album to materialize. On the face of it, “…Of The Dark Light” retains the aggression of the band while lyrically themes like suicide add a darker tone, while Derek Boyer’s bass has been down tuned lower in the mix but obvious changes to make any fans concerned. That said, Suffocation now have a new guitarist in Charlie Errigo and drummer Eric Morotti, but again not that you’d notice it from the sound as they both fit in pretty snugly and are more than able to deliver such as on the pummeling ‘Epitaph Of The Credulous’ with its wailing guitar solos and fierce double bass beats. Along with founder guitarist Terrance Hobbs, Frank Mullen handles all the growls on the 9 tracks here although adding backing vocals this time is Kevin Muller, his touring substitute given the former’s lifestyle commitments. While not moving any mountains – and thankfully so – Suffocation once again deliver a top notch album that cements their legacy as one of the original purveyors of NYDM.