What can I say; I’m late to the party on Suffocation. While Death Metal was on the rise in the late 80’s I was onboard with all the bands coming out of Florida and Suffocation wasn’t on my radar. After seeing them for the first time in San Francisco last year as part of the Summer Slaughter tour, I became a fan and felt they stole the show. Their live set was unbelievably brutal and I felt like a jerk for never seeing them prior to that.
So here we have a new record due out on June 16th via Nuclear Blast Records entitled Of The Dark Light and it is brutal. Since seeing them live I obtained their catalog and enjoy a great deal of it and have been really looking forward to hearing the new record, and it didn’t disappoint. One thing is for sure, there is no fluff or bullshit within the record. Clocking in at just over a half an hour the band didn’t waste one second of album time. Front to back it is heavy, fast and just plain nasty in the best sense of the word.
Terrance Hobbs, guitarist and main writer for the band is a man on a mission with the songs on this record. The blend of technical and simplicity are amazing in his writing style. One thing I found very interesting was to learn that Frank and Kevin split the singing duties on this record. I’m not a Suffocation know it all, but I can’t tell the difference between the two. The transition is smooth and the vocals are on point. Both singers are powerful and fluent and mesh with the riffs perfectly. May sound a little odd to have two vocalists on one record but the band said they work with what is presented to them. Frank (original vocalist) has a busy life and touring and recording can be a challenge for him due to his other obligations. Whatever the case is, it seems to work.
With nine tracks on this latest offering from these Death Metal masters, I’m only going to speak on a few songs so I don’t give too much away. Here are a couple that stood out to me.
Track one is called “Clarity Through Deprivation” and is a real tone setter. It is just fierce and it feels like you are on a runaway train. The downtuned guitar rhythms with Eric Morotti’s drumming make for a perfect storm of brutality. Just past the halfway point of this track is the breakdown, and it’s about as good as it gets. Super Heavy meets screaming guitars and it just about what every Metalhead wants. What a wonderful way to start a record off.
Track six is the title track, “Of The Dark Light,” and it takes me back to the good old days. Plenty of tempo changes, sweet but yet subtle guitar solos, heavy and then the breakdown happens. Thank you Terrance for this breakdown; the Metal community owes you one. In the words of Lucy from Peanuts, “Good grief” – it’s beyond heavy. Heavy enough to compare it to a Deathcore or even a Hardcore breakdown, maybe? I wasn’t expecting to hear the tempo change that dramatically, but I’m glad I did. After giving this album three or four spins this track is my favorite. This tune has it all wrapped in a neat little package that is 3:41 long. Bravo!
Of The Dark Light is a fantastic record that any Death Metal fan will be able to appreciate. If I had to find something, anything, wrong with this album, it would be that it’s too short. It’s so damn good; I didn’t want it to end. I am really looking forward to seeing these Dudes live again this summer. They will be on the road with Morbid Angel and Revocation; solid line up in my book.