New York death metal pioneers Suffocation have dropped a bombshell of an album after just over four years of waiting in the dark. “Effigy of the Forgotten”, their first record, was released back in 1991 and, shortly after, metal fans were rocking “Jesus Wept” tee’s to every underground show they could find. This is the band that helped forge the path for millions of metalheads across the globe to start writing ‘Slam‘ style riffs, see how low they can tune their guitars before the strings started clanging together, and compare the brutality of how slow your breakdown was compared to other bands.
What else can these guys do for the genre? I mean, it’s been over 25 years. How does “…Of The Dark Light” stack up to their hefty catalogue of guttural complexities and sophisticated savagery that were all used to? Well, here goes…
We’re on album number nine. There’s nine tracks, 8 new tracks and a re-recorded version of “Epitaph of the Credulous” from the “Breeding the Spawn” album back in 93′. After a 2 second intro of what sounds like a choir, the album kicks off with an unapologetic fury of blast beats and tremolo riffs followed by Suffocations unique style of song writing that is completely unmistakeable. Fast forward a few minutes, and your already greeted with a sludgy breakdown that dismantles itself until the end of the track. Man, this is what we buy this stuff for! Right? Well, if it is, your getting your moneys worth.
With songs like “The Warmth Within the Dark” and “Your Last Breaths”, it’s apparent that singer Frank Mullen hasn’t let up over the years. As expected, the vocals are strong but with subtle inflections and nuances that show off the grimy details of his lyrical storytelling. In comparison to the previous two releases, “Blood Oath” and “Pinnacle of Bedlam”, this album does have a slower vibe throughout its entirety. Don’t get me wrong, Terrance Hobbs is still chock full of spastic tempo changes, fast hammer-on riffs, and more aggressive arpeggios than you can shake a guitar pick at. Something just screams “Pierced From Within” era. That slow churning darkness and mayhem that Suffocation dished out back in the 90’s but with a modern flair that makes the album feel extremely relevant and much appreciated.
“…Of The Dark Light” generally feels fun. It gives you the feeling that it was written in an old beat up garage somewhere, shoes sticking to the floor, crushed beer cans in the corner, you know, that old school vibe. The production is crisp and clean but, maintains a consistent dirty aesthetic. There’s a uniqueness that separates the tracks on the album. “Return to The Abyss” has a weird clean style lead at the end of the song that’s oddly interesting to say the least, “Caught Between Two Worlds” creates a very ominous atmosphere halfway through and generally feels creepy, while “Some Things Should Be Left Alone” hits you with such a deathy-groove throughout its entirety that you won’t know which direction to headbang. There’s even a few bass solos thrown in for good measure. Not to mention the lyrics are top notch.
In conclusion, all the elements of a classic Suffocation album are here, but with a noticeable effort that the band is still willing to try new things and are keeping it interesting after all these years. Is this ground-breaking, genre-bending, galactic-space lord modern tech-death that’ll burn the skin from your face with its light speed sweeps and soloing? Hell no. That’s why we buy Suffocation albums to begin with. That old school brutal metal style that sticks to your bones. The album may be shorter than most releases they’ve put out in the past but, the band is absolutely in no hurry to get through the nine sludgy efforts they’ve painstakingly sculpted for us on “…Of The Dark Light”. Sometimes slow and brutal wins the race.
Album Rating: 8/10
Favorite Track: “Your Last Breaths”