Review Summary: An overlooked gem
Suffocation’s debut album Effigy of the Forgotten
is widely viewed as one of the greatest death metal releases of all time. Their third release, Pierced from Within
, is met with similar praise, due to their ability to meld the brutality of technical death metal with subtle hints of melody with ease. Unfortunately, their sophomore release, 1993’s Breeding the Spawn
, isn’t nearly as well received. The band were experiencing difficulties during the recording process, even admitting to having a sub-par production job due to issues with their record label. 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 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 on this record due to the weak production, it gives bassist Chris Richards time to shine, namely on “Epitaph of the Credulous” and the title track. Mike Smith's drumming is phenomenal as always, blast beating away behind the technical riffs provided by guitarists Terrance Hobbs and Doug Cerrito; and Frank Mullen’s signature growls kick you in the nuts consistently throughout the album’s 36-minute run time.
The guitar parts, while sounding thin and unforgivably low in the mix, are some of the most technical material Suffocation has ever written. Breeding the Spawn
has its fair share of melodic passages as well, namely on “Anomalistic Offerings” where a progressive guitar motif is played about a minute in, then repeats itself in a very different way soon after with the guitars galloping harmonized triplets through both sides of the speakers - one of the album's many highlights. 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 their music the unique feel of, well, Suffocation.
Again, the main issue of Breeding the Spawn
is its lackluster production. The title track is the biggest offender here - the double bass pedals at the start of the song aren’t even at the same volume, causing an awkward hiccup in time and ultimately detracting from the music. On top of that, there are plenty of hard hitting breakdowns here that would rival the best breakdowns on Cryptopsy’s None So Vile
had the guitar tone been beefier. 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 an essential listen to any Suffocation fan or death metal fan in general.