Review Summary: Suffocation show how brutal death metal should be done properly with their legendary debut.
Say it loud and say it proud- SUFFOCATION. To some that word may just be a means to physically murder another person but to me it means balls out death metal that doesn't give a *** about you. For those uninitiated to the band, Suffocation are a brutal death metal band from New York. They were initially formed in 1988 by vocalist Frank Mullen but soon had a new lineup established, and the band went on to release their debut album Effigy Of The Forgotten in 1991. The five-piece band managed with that release to establish a blueprint that various bands would go on to follow in the years to come.
Suffocation's style is one that has influenced so many bands over the years, with their signature use of slams eventually leading to the breakdown-infested sub-genre Deathcore. They rely on relentless drumming, highly technical guitar work and guttural vocal work that at the time was almost unheard of. The guilty party responsible for this album are vocalist Frank Mullen, drummer Mike Smith, bassist Josh Barohn and guitarists Terrance Hobbs and Doug Cerrito. Between them this lineup managed to create one of the first albums in the brutal death metal sub-genre and Effigy Of The Forgotten truly is a landmark in the genre, even featuring two guest appearances from Monstrosity/Cannibal Corpse vocalist George Fisher on the songs Reincremation and Mass Obliteration.
The album clocks in at under forty minutes which is a tidy time for nine minutes of pure death metal brilliance. It opens up with one of the band's most well known song entitled Liege Of Inveracity and never refrains from being a technical, heavy assault on the ears right up until the closing seconds of Jesus Wept. This album does not *** around at all, with each song being structured perfectly so as best to crush the listener underfoot. The riff work on here is absolute insanity with the band being able to seamlessly transfer from playing fast power chords to lightning fast tremolo picking with little effort. Scattered throughout each of the songs are slower moments known as "slams" that serve as a means to break up the tempo and add a little variety to the album. Whereas the deathcore genre's bands would take all variety away from these slams and create their open-string chugging breakdowns that detracted from their songs, Suffocation truly knew how to make these work. Liege Of Inveracity is a great example as to how well the band throws in these clever slams that blasts away until around the 3.00 mark when it suddenly slows down and cuts to a very slow section that is integrated extremely well.
The soloing on this album is another high point, clearly being very Slayer influenced although a lot more tolerable. Both guitarists play solos on this release and they are always more than listenable. Many songs have more than one example to point to and the guitar solos on here are a true credit to the band. They are absolute shred-fests that rely on playing as many notes as quickly as the band possibly could in as short a space of time as possible but it works to perfection and seeks to only impress the listener more. Also the drumming is a highlight as well with some frenzied blast beats thrown around as though they are going out of fashion, with the drumming on Involuntary Slaughter sticking out best. The drumming on here is varied as well with a variety of different speeds being played tightly by Mike. He knows how to use both his hands and his feet to near perfection, with some insane double bass work found on this release.
Jesus Wept is another standout song, that closes off the album perfectly. This is one of five songs that were re-recorded from previous material, with Infecting The Crypts, Jesus wept and Mass Obliteration being re-recordings of songs from the Human Waste EP and Involuntary Slaughter and Reincremation coming from their demo. Jesus Wept is an overly aggressive example of how technical riffing should be handled properly, whilst also containing an absolutely beautifully written slam. Some of the double bass drumming is mind-blowing to listen to, and the sweep picked riff near the beginning is something of a technical wonder to listen to given the speed and precision of it. Jesus Wept stands proudly as one of the best in the band's back catalogue and is only topped off by some insane vocal work.
The only little niggle that can be found is that the production is a little too heavy at times. The guitar work frequently sounds a little too samey and the drumming has a rather horrible tone to the bass drum. It is nothing that cripples the album but is certainly more than noticeable. However, when it comes to a slam-death frenzy of blast beats and ridiculously technical riffing, this is an exercise in how it should be done properly. Listen to Liege Of Inveracity, and if you like that song it is guaranteed that you will like the rest of the album.