SUFFOCATION
Death Metal • United States

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Suffocation is an American death metal band that was formed in 1989 in New York. The band comprises vocalist Frank Mullen, guitarists Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais, drummer Mike Smith and bassist Derek Boyer. Suffocation rose to prominence of death metal and created a blueprint for the genre for the 1990s with their 1991 debut album Effigy of the Forgotten and released six studio albums since its formation.

The band's grindcore-influenced technical death metal style uses guttural vocals with a bottom-heavy guitar sound; complex, fast guitar riffs and drumming, and "sophisticated" sense of songwriting. Their debut, Effigy of the Forgotten, is considered a classic by most, topping the charts of many fans' "all-time favorites" lists. Also worth noting is their debut EP, Human Waste, which was the first official release on relapse records in 1991.

The band went through a few member changes before briefly disbanding after their release,
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SuffocationSuffocation
Relapse 2006
Audio CD$4.60
$6.00 (used)
Breeding the SpawnBreeding the Spawn
Import
Imports 1993
Audio CD$9.02
$9.01 (used)
Close Of A ChapterClose Of A Chapter
Relapse 2009
Audio CD$4.44
$4.43 (used)
Effigy of the ForgottenEffigy of the Forgotten
Import
Imports 1992
Audio CD$9.57
$9.56 (used)
Pierced From WithinPierced From Within
Import
Imports 2016
Vinyl$23.81
Pinnacle of Bedlam (reg cd)Pinnacle of Bedlam (reg cd)
Nuclear Blast America 2013
Audio CD$5.02
$3.67 (used)
Souls to DenySouls to Deny
Relapse 2005
Audio CD$8.58
$3.59 (used)
Best of SuffocationBest of Suffocation
Roadrunner Records 2008
Audio CD$5.00
$2.99 (used)
Blood OathBlood Oath
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$5.26
$6.55 (used)
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SUFFOCATION Discography

SUFFOCATION albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.83 | 16 ratings
Effigy of the Forgotten
Death Metal 1991
.. Album Cover 3.49 | 12 ratings
Breeding the Spawn
Death Metal 1993
.. Album Cover 3.59 | 16 ratings
Pierced From Within
Death Metal 1995
.. Album Cover 4.20 | 7 ratings
Souls to Deny
Death Metal 2004
.. Album Cover 3.51 | 7 ratings
Suffocation
Death Metal 2006
.. Album Cover 3.96 | 9 ratings
Blood Oath
Death Metal 2009
.. Album Cover 3.80 | 11 ratings
Pinnacle of Bedlam
Death Metal 2013

SUFFOCATION EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 3.62 | 6 ratings
Human Waste
Death Metal 1991
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Live Death
Death Metal 1994
.. Album Cover 4.05 | 3 ratings
Despise the Sun
Death Metal 1998

SUFFOCATION live albums

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Close of a Chapter
Death Metal 2006

SUFFOCATION demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Reincremated
Death Metal 1990

SUFFOCATION boxset & compilations

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best of Suffocation
Death Metal 2008

SUFFOCATION singles (1)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Surgery of Impalement
Death Metal 2004

SUFFOCATION movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

SUFFOCATION Reviews

SUFFOCATION Despise the Sun

EP · 1998 · Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Despise the Sun" is an EP release by US, New York based death metal act Suffocation. The EP was released through Vulture Records in 1998. It bridges the gap between the band´s third and fourth full-length studio albums "Pierced From Within (1995)" and "Souls to Deny (2004)". Suffocation disbanded shortly after the EP was released. They reformed again in 2002 with a modified lineup (and released their comeback album "Souls to Deny" in 2004). The lineup on "Despise the Sun" includes new drummer Dave Culross (Malevolent Creation, Pyrexia), who replaces Doug Bohn. "Despise the Sun" was recorded at Cove City Sound Studios in New York and was produced by Scott Burns.

The 16:34 minutes long EP features 5 tracks of crushingly brutal and technically well played death metal in the trademark Suffocation style. Production wise and also on other parameters I´d say that the sound and style on "Despise the Sun" remind me the most of "Pierced From Within (1995)". In other words a natural successor to that album. And that´s definitely not a bad thing. Few can deliver brutal technical death metal with such conviction and passion as Suffocation. If you ask me they are one of the few acts in the really brutal part of the death metal genre that actually stand out with a unique sound. The fact that Frank Mullen´s ultra brutal growls are actually slightly intelligible only makes the listening experience that more intense. And intensity is certainly a good word to describe what this EP is about. It´s actually a downright punishing listen. The playing is relentlessly energetic wether it is blasting sections, mid-paced sections or the über brutal breakdowns that are also featured in the music. To my ears highlights are the title track and the re-recording of "Catatonia". A track which originally appeared on the "Human Waste (1991)" EP.

Suffocation are not exactly known for writing easy listening material and it does take a while before hooks begin to appear on this release too. However the band stick to their guns and never fall into the "cheap" trap of incorporating melody to make their music more easily accessible. They demand your full attention and by the fiercely aggressive way these guys sound you´re probably better off giving it to them. Effectful songwriting, a powerful sound production, and an extremely well playing band amount to a 4 star (80%) rating.

SUFFOCATION Pierced From Within

Album · 1995 · Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Pierced from Within" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US, New York based death metal act Suffocation. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in May 1995. The receptions from fans and critics alike, regarding the band´s 2nd full-length studio album "Breeding the Spawn (1993)", generally weren´t that positive, mainly due to what many consider a weak sounding production. Roadrunner Records refused to pay for studio time in Morrisound Studios with producer Scott Burns (which was the band´s primary choice), and as a result there was a lot of turmoil surrounding the recording of that album. Turmoil that is reported to be one of the main reasons why drummer Mike Smith left Suffocation shortly after the release of "Breeding the Spawn (1993)".

In a strange turn of events Roadrunner Records allowed Suffocation to record "Pierced from Within" at Morrisound Studios with producer Scott Burns (although at the time the label were in the process of effecively getting rid of all their death metal artists), which resulted in one of the better death metal productions to come out of Morrisound Studios. The sound is thick, dark, and brutal yet all instruments are easily heard in the mix. It´s not often you notice the bass on death metal albums but here it is just right in the mix and you can clearly hear it.

The music on the album is brutal and technically well played death metal. The vocals are extremely brutal growling, but as it was also the case on "Breeding the Spawn (1993)", you´re actually able to catch words and phrases which make the vocal part of the album very effective. There are some really impressive precision playing on the album too and the tracks vary in pace between fast- to blasting- to brick heavy breakdowns. New drummer Doug Bohn is a competent and quite accomplished replacement for Mike Smith. The tracks are high quality death metal compositions and although not all tracks are easily accessible or instantly memorable, repeated listens reveal both hooks and infectiously catchy rhythms. There´s still next to no melodic content in the music though, so the hooks take time to discover. The tracks are quirky with lots of short breaks, 1-2 second blast beat parts (sometimes even shorter ones within riffs) and loads of tempo changes in every track. It never sounds forced though and there´s always the greater purpose in sight of creating relentlessly brutal and energetic music. Highlights include the opening title track, "Synthetically Revived", "Thrones of Blood", and the re-recording of the title track from "Breeding the Spawn (1993)" which closes "Pierced From Within". All material on the album is consistent in both style and quality though, and I could have picked almost any of the tracks featured on the album and called it a highlight.

So upon conclusion "Pierced from Within" is a high quality death metal album by Suffocation, which shows a more mature band that have honed their craft and now pack enough energy to tilt an elephant, but at the same time make your intellect work. The perfect marriage between relentless brutal energy and technical playing. It´s not that the band have changed their core sound much or that they´ve developed dramatically, but they´ve taken it up a notch here and a 4.5 star (90%) rating is fully deserved.

SUFFOCATION Breeding the Spawn

Album · 1993 · Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Breeding the Spawn" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US, New York based death metal act Suffocation. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in May 1993. Alledgedly economical circumstances meant that Suffocation were not allowed by Roadrunner Records, to record "Breeding the Spawn" at Morrisound Studios even though the band had achieved great success in that studio when they recorded their debut full-length studio album "Effigy of the Forgotten (1991)". Suffocation wanted to work with producer Scott Burns again but that was denied too by the label. So Suffocation ended up recording the album at Noise Lab, West Islip, New York with producer Paul Bagin. The turmoil surrounding the recording process alledgedly led to the departure of drummer Mike Smith soon after the release of "Breeding the Spawn".

...and the turmoil is unfortunately also audible when you listen to the album. Roadrunner Records decision not to allow Suffocation to record with Scott Burns at Morrisound Studios again is as close as it gets to sabotage. I don´t think I´ve ever read a review of "Breeding the Spawn" where the sound production isn´t mentioned as a weak link. Especially when compared to the strong and brutal sound production on "Effigy of the Forgotten (1991)". When that is said the raw, muddy, and unpolished sound production on "Breeding the Spawn" actually suits the material on the album pretty well. The technical details of the music are sometimes buried in the mix and especially the bass drums have a thud sound, so you´re not able to hear every kick clearly, but there is still a raw charm to the production, which aren´t necessarily present on the other albums by the band (maybe except on the "Human Waste (1991)" EP). It´s raw, it´s primitive, and it´s organic and authentic.

Stylistically the music on "Breeding the Spawn" more or less continues the brutal and technically well played death metal style of "Effigy of the Forgotten (1991)". Suffocation found their signature sound very early on in their career and they stuck to it. So this is ultra brutal and technically well played death metal featuring mutible tempo changes (everything from blast beats- to brutal mid-paced grooves- to ultra heavy breakdowns), breaks, brutal thrash oriented riffing, screaming solos, and Frank Mullen´s deep unintelligible growling vocals in front. Compared to his vocals on "Effigy of the Forgotten (1991)", there´s been a slight change though, as you´re now occasionally able to catch a phrase or a word or two, which to my ears makes the vocal part of this album much more interesting than the vocals on the predecessor. The vocals are quite intense and there´s a brutality factor here that is way beyond what most other contemporary death metal acts could (or would) muster. The band are very well playing and although the sound production occasionally muffles the performances, it´s still audible that everything is delivered with militant precision, and with both conviction and great passion.

So upon conclusion "Breeding the Spawn" is a high quality sophomore studio album by Suffocation. The raw and unpolished sound production is bound to turn some people off, but if you can look past it or even enjoy it, there are many great things to be found on the album. The tracks may be a bit one-dimensional and therefore hard to tell apart, but the recognisability factor grows with each new listen, and the high level musicianship helps pull in a positive direction. The uncompromising nature of the material shows that Suffocation are not aimed to please, but rather that they have their own agenda, and that they won´t leave the path they are on, no matter what. That´s hard not to be impressed by, although a few more hooks and catchy moments probably could have made "Breeding the Spawn" a slightly more accessible release. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

SUFFOCATION Effigy of the Forgotten

Album · 1991 · Death Metal
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UMUR
"Effigy of the Forgotten" is the debut full-length studio album by US, New York based death metal act Suffocation. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in October 1991. Suffocation was formed in 1988 and the "Human Waste (1991)" EP, which preceeds "Effigy of the Forgotten", was released in May 1991. There´s no arguing the EP showed great promise, but it was on "Effigy of the Forgotten" that Suffocation unleashed their full arsenal.

Graced with a time-typical Dan Seagrave cover artwork, and one of the better early 90s Scott Burns credited sound productions, to come out of Morrisound Studios, "Effigy of the Forgotten" is in many ways the arch typical US death metal album from the early 90s. The sound production is ultra heavy and brutal, yet clear enough for all details to be heard, the musicianship is on a high technical level, and the songwriting is inspired too.

The material is not easily accessible as it´s relentlessly brutal and there are very few hooks and next to no melody to hold on to. Instead Suffocation focus on sharp riffs, tempo changes (anything from ultra heavy breakdowns to fast blasting parts), breaks, and sub woofer deep unintelligible growling vocals. This is about as "death metal" as death metal comes. There´s not a second of compromise throughout the album. One of the features which sets Suffocation apart from many of their contemporaries are their brutal grooves and breakdowns, which are probably inspired by them growing up in the hardcore temple of New York. So while this is first and foremost brutal technical death metal there are still lots of groove to be found in the material. Which is probably why quite a few deathcore acts mention Suffocation as a major influence. They were simply one of the first death metal bands to incorporate hardcore influenced grooves to their music. Leaders and pioneers.

When all the positives have been accounted for, it´s hard not to notice that the material is bit one-dimensional and that the tracks are hard to tell apart, even after repeated listens, and that is a minor issue, although it´s to be expected with music as brutal as this. Given enough spins the tracks do begin to stand out a bit more and there are several of the tracks which today are considered Suffocation "classics". Tracks the band play regularly when they perform live. "Infecting the Crypts" (with it´s infectiously brutal groove) is probably the most well known, but tracks like "Mass Obliteration", "Liege of Inveracity", and the title track have also often appeared on the band´s setlists.

So upon conclusion "Effigy of the Forgotten" is a high quality US death metal release from the golden year of 1991. It took death metal to another level of brutality and it´s one of the seminal albums in the most brutal end of the death metal scale. To my ears it´s not without flaws though and especially the songwriting could have been a bit more varied. The unintelligible growling vocals could also have prospered from being slightly more intelligible. They would have made more impact if the listener at least occasionally could have catched a phrase or two (something which changed on subsequent releases), but Suffocation went all in on this one, trying to create the ultimate brutal death metal album released at that point. If that was their intention they succeeded well. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

SUFFOCATION Live Death

Split · 1994 · Death Metal
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UMUR
"Live Death" is a split live album release recorded live at the Milwaukee Metalfest, Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1992. The album was released through Restless Brand Records in 1994. "Live Death" features performances by Suffocation, Malevolent Creation, Exhorder, and Cancer.

Suffocation, Malevolent Creation, and Cancer all play death metal while Exhorder is thrash metal in the brutal end of the scale. All four bands were in their infancy at this point, and none of them had released more than maximum two studio albums up until then, and the material featured on this album reflects that, as all tracks on the album are culled from the earliest releases of the bands. "Jesus Wept" and "Infecting the Crypts" by Suffocation, "Premature Burial", "Slaughter of Innocence", and "Decadence Within" by Malevolent Creation, "The Law", "(Cadence of) the Dirge", and "Desecrator by Exhorder, and "Hung, Drawn and Quartered" and "Blood Bath" by Cancer. Most of the tracks are today considered "classic" material by the various bands. Naturally these are only selections from the various bands full shows.

The recording quality is very raw and I dare say not much above lo-fi recorded audience bootlegs (I´m being a bit harsh here). So you won´t get the most detailed performances, but instead an authentic sounding recording, which presents the material like it was played on the day. No overdubs, no polish (the sound quality is slightly better on the Malevolent Creation and Exhorder tracks than on the Suffocation and Cancer tracks). It´s a great pleasure to hear how well playing the various bands are even this early on in their careers, and the selection of tracks and how the tracklist is constructed also work really well. The sound quality is bound to be a challenge for some and personally I could have wished for a slightly more clear sounding production, but as an authentic document of the bands performances that day, "Live Death" works pretty well. A 3 star (60%) rating is deserved.

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