Suffocation – ‘…Of The Dark Light’ (Nuclear Blast) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Jonni D   
Friday, 30 June 2017 04:30

Suffocation artworkFor more than 25 years, Suffocation have been part of the bedrock of the extreme metal movement. Often imitated but rarely matched, the band has been hugely influential in developing the New York death metal sound. Following their disbandment in 1998, Suffocation’s mid-Noughties reunion gained them a whole new generation of followers as they crafted some of the best releases of their career. Their last album, 2013’s ‘Pinnacle Of Bedlam’, was a fine example of just how devastating Suffocation 2.0 could be in the context of modern death metal. And so, it’s all the more disheartening to truthfully acknowledge just how anaemic ‘…Of The Dark Light’ is when compared to Suffocation’s back catalogue as well as that of their contemporaries.

 

Although the album features new blood in the form of guitarist Charlie Errigo and drummer Eric Morotti, there’s a serious lack of fresh ideas on here. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the material was to the standard of previous efforts; after all, Suffocation are largely to thank for spearheading the entire genre and so ought to be forgiven for repeating themselves. But what they muster up on ‘…Of The Dark Light’ pales in comparison to the strength of albums gone by. Offerings like the title track and ‘The Violation’ suffer greatly from an overly processed production job, with a criminally high EQ level. It means that the instrumentation mix may be crisp, but sounds painfully mechanical and akin to any slew of derivative modern death metal bands.

 

The band once benefitted from knowing when to balance their frantic palm muted riffs with flourishes of personality, but here there is a woeful monotony of claustrophobic chugging. Most tracks blend into one another with little in the way to differentiate one from the other. The grooves of old are few and far between, although ‘Return To The Abyss’ gets closest with its nods to a more grindcore influenced sound. Mike Smith’s drums are sorely missed, with Morotti’s performance noticeably timid in comparison. Even Frank Mullen isn’t immune, with the frontman’s vocals sounding tired and incongruous atop the processed music. Even the inclusion of a rerecorded version of ‘Epitaph Of The Credulous’ from ‘Breeding The Spawn’ proves to be unsuccessful, failing to match the original’s intensity.

 

 

This is easily the weakest output from the New York heavyweights; disappointingly poor given the consistently high standard that Suffocation has maintained throughout their career. Hopefully it’s only a temporary setback, for as it stands it seems that the band has been creatively overtaken by many of their younger contemporaries. Given the astronomically high standard of many of the extreme releases this year, ‘…Of The Dark Light’ comes across as Suffocation playing it safe. And quite frankly, it doesn’t suit them.

 

‘…Of The Dark Light’ is out now.

 

Suffocation play the following dates in August:

Sunday 27 – Bristol, Bierkeller

Monday 28 – Sheffield, O2 Academy

Tuesday 29 – Glasgow, Audio

Wednesday 30 – Newcastle, Riverside

Thursday 31 – London, Underworld

 

www.facebook.com/suffocation/

 

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