October 25, 2023

Long Island veterans Suffocation have been torturing our eardrums since 1988, and together with Immolation (from the same state and formed in the same year) are among the death metal bands that have persevered on their style and sound through all these years. Their ninth album, Hymns From The Apocrypha, however, marks a big change for Suffocation being their first ever without the signature growls of original vocalist Frank Mullen. Stepping in as new frontman is the drummer (yes, you read that correctly) of Disgorge Ricky Myers and I can assure all of you the guy is no less than impressive filling in those big shoes.

Suffocation are still sawing off heads with brutality, but this time, their touch of technicality and intricate guitar licks is aided immensely by the fantastic production. Guitarist (and only original member left) Terrance Hobbs, together with bassist Derek Boyer (playing with the band for the last 19 years) carried out recordings in their own InLine Studio in Long Island. The duo engineered and co-produced with Christian Donaldson (Beneath The Massacre, Ingested), who was also re-enlisted to mix and master, with Dominic Grimard (Cryptopsy, Shadow Of Intent) assisting. There’s hardly any surprises in these nine new tracks and if you’ve been following the band, there so much to enjoy after these six long years of waiting. Seraphim Enslavement, Delusions Of Mortality and the title track (take that solo!) are the three definite highlights for me, because of the musicality and more memorable hooks, while most of the other songs are relentlessly aggressive and packing so many riffs and tempo changes that repeated listens are a must to fully appreciate the album.

Speaking of the brutal performance of Myers behind the mic, we should mention that he is also the main lyricist, with the title track tackling celestial envy and humanity’s ruin. At the same time, Perpetual Deception revisits the Son of Man (Jesus) and his continuous deceit, a nod to the classic Suffocation track, Jesus Wept. The beautiful cover artwork by Giannis Nakos is just the icing on this delight of a death metal “cake”.

This year has marked the strong return of genre titans like Obituary, Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation, with even a new Sadus album imminent (unbelievable!), so it seems the old guard is far from quitting. And let’s be honest – these guys keep showing us what true dedication and metal mastery mean.

8/10


Suffocation in Facebook

Hymns From The Apocrypha is out on November 3rd and can be ordered from HERE