Review Summary: An overlooked gem15 of 15 thought this review was well written
Suffocation’s debut album Effigy of the Forgotten
is widely viewed as one of the best death metal releases of all time. Their third release Pierced from Within
is met with similar praise, due to their ability to flawlessly meld the brutality of technical death metal with subtle hints of melody. Unfortunately their sophomore release, 1993’s Breeding the Spawn
, isn’t nearly as well received as its adjacent albums. The band were experiencing difficult times during the recording process, admitting to having a sub-par production job due to financial issues with their record label. Still even through the distress, Suffocation managed to release a superb death metal album that deserves just as much critical acclaim as its surrounding albums.
While the instrumentation on Breeding the Spawn
is pretty standard for Suffocation, the bass performance is easily the most fascinating aspect of the album. On Effigy of the Forgotten
, the guitars were overpowering in the mix (and rightfully so), but since the guitars have little to no substance to them on this record, it really helps give Chris Richards time to shine. “Epitaph of the Credulous” and the title track in particular have prominent bass lines that makes you wonder why Chris’ bass licks aren’t featured more on other Suffocation records. The drumming by Mike Smith is phenomenal as always, blast beating away behind the technical riffs provided by Terrance Hobbs and Doug Cerrito, and Frank Mullen’s signature growls, for lack of a better phrase, kick you in the nuts consistently throughout the album’s 36 minute run time.
Now the guitar work, whilst being relatively low in the mix and flat sounding, is some of the most technical material Suffocation has ever written. The opening two tracks especially have countless blisteringly fast riffs. Not to mention the fact that the album has its fair share of melodic passages, namely on “Anomalistic Offerings” where an almost progressive guitar motif is played about a minute in, then the progression repeats itself in a very different way soon after with the guitars galloping harmonized triplets through both sides of the speakers. Guitarists Hobbs and Cerrito have their own signature sound as well. Cerrito has a more dissonant, technical form of playing, with his songs taking up most of the first half of the album, and Hobbs has a more melodic touch to his riffs with his songs being mainly in the latter half. It’s this combination of contrasting styles that gives Suffocation’s music the unique sound of, well, Suffocation.
Again, the main issue of Breeding the Spawn
is the lackluster production. The title track is the biggest offender here since the double bass drum hits at the start of the song aren’t even the same volume, causing almost a hiccup in time and ultimately detracting from the rest of the music. On top of that, the guitar tone which was piercing and ballsy on Effigy
is incredibly thin and weak on here. Honestly, there are numerous hard hitting breakdowns on the album that would probably rival some of the best death metal breakdowns found on Cryptopsy’s None So Vile
had the production been better. Even then, the positives of Breeding the Spawn
greatly outweigh the negatives. The fact that this is Suffocation’s most technical and ambitious release to date makes it worthy of a listen to any fan of death metal.