...Of The Dark Light by Suffocation

Release date: June 9, 2017
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Long-time veterans of the New York death metal scene, Suffocation needs no introductions. They pioneered the sub-genre called technical brutal death metal, and through the years their albums have not lacked in ingenuity and intensity. Enter 2017 and their latest full-length album, Of The Dark Light, once again obliterates the speculation whether a band that’s been around this long will have any gas left in the tank.

…Of The Dark Light utilizes more technically challenging riffs than they did in their last two albums, Blood Oath and Pinnacles of Bedlam. That feat is difficult to consider true, since any Suffocation album is rife with technically challenging play. Old-school Suffocation isn’t too overtly technical, but some elements remain strong in the band’s material. They shred to perfection. The drums anchor the frequently morphing time signatures and tempos, and the vocals don’t merely serve as accent to the music.

Really, which albums released by Suffocation do fans think is unlistenable? Zero. Nada. Never. Suffocation’s worst album might be their self-titled album, but even that album has fans swearing to its validity. Suffocation is clearly a beloved institution. They’ve never released a truly bad album, and with …Of The Dark Light, they sound like they’re getting even better.

Technical death metal developed a nasty reputation after modern death metal bands jumped on the trend years ago. Bands like Suffocation shouldn’t be confused with the likes of those bands. They feature some of the most technically-challenging musicianship in all of metal, and it never sounds like they’re just hurtling down the fretboard at a million miles an hour. The music is catchy. There are big hooks. There are riffs you wish you could pull off. They are a clear example of a band that evolves but does so with dignity and taste. Gone is the murky, muddled production that greeted listeners of Breeding the Spawn. Much to my delight, the band is pushing the envelope in technical brutal death metal once more.

Mainstream or otherwise, music this ingenious and intense still has me headbanging like I did to Effigy of the Forgotten. Need I write two-hundred more words to titillate fans to the obvious? Suffocation is one of the best metal bands of all time. …Of The Dark Light reveals no tendency to water down, and neither does it rely on pure wankery. The riffs are pristine, and the breakdowns don’t sound like circa 2000’s deathcore band Suicide Silence. With Dying Fetus releasing another great technical brutal death metal album of sublime quality, and Incantation’s album soon to follow, Suffocation helps make the case for death metal’s dominance this 2017.

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