If the American death metal veterans in Suffocation have done one thing right over the years, it's their ability to consistently deliver some of the most brutal, technical, and downright impressive extreme music out there. Although they could be legitimately criticized for remaining rather stagnant throughout their lengthy career, one thing remains abundantly clear on Pinnacle of Bedlam - even after twenty five years in the business, Suffocation is still able to churn out some of the best technical death metal on the scene today. The band doesn't offer too many new ideas on their seventh full-length album, but the quality is held to such an impeccable standard that it's difficult not to be blown away.
From most perspectives, Pinnacle of Bedlam is nothing new under the sun for Suffocation. One could argue that the album sounds more modern than the band's other works thanks to its sleek sound production, but I think that's a rather minor detail in the grand scheme of things - this is the old school Suffocation that everybody has come to know and love from start to finish, which means that brutal American death metal with a strong technical edge should be expected. Suffocation doesn't give its listeners very many times to catch their breath, as almost the entire album is characterized by devastating riffs, frantic lead guitar work, and speedy drum fills. Plenty of heavy grooves are worked into the mix alongside the frenzied blast beats and tempo changes, though, so lack of variation is never an issue. While this style of music often strikes me as lacking in dynamics and subtlety, Suffocation has always amazed me with their ability to stay faithful to this style while still retaining a high level of memorability, and this is certainly the case on Pinnacle of Bedlam.
Some of the band's best songs ever penned, like the killer opening track "Cycles of Suffering" and the especially wonderful "Sullen Days" (this one finds the band incorporating a few melodic ideas into their work - pretty damn cool!), are on Pinnacle of Bedlam; the entire album is intense as hell, though, so listeners shouldn't expect any monotony to set in while giving this one a spin. When all is said and done, Pinnacle of Bedlam is yet another top-notch observation in Suffocation's discography, and while it would be cool to hear the band attempt something radically different next time around, I will be perfectly happy if they keep churning out records of this quality time and time again. Pinnacle of Bedlam is simply a must-have for any technical death metal fan!