Review: Suffocation – Hymns From The Apocrypha
Why’d you have to go and be so suffocated?
It kinda blows my mind when older death metal bands still crush it so late in their careers. I mean, in fairness Suffocation are kind of the progenitors of modern death metal. I won’t credit them for inventing the genre in its entirety, but still. I’ll admit to sleeping on them more than I should have. Late ’80s and early ’90s death metal isn’t exactly known for its production values, so sometimes I’d try to do my homework on the subject and get turned off by the thin, treble-laden mixing and just turn it off. Better late than never, right? At least I’m not completely ignorant on the subject. When I saw the words “new” and “Suffocation” in the same sentence, I clicked play.
Hymns From The Apocrypha pretty much hooked me from the get-go, and I use the word hook because that’s the best way I can describe these riffs. Sure, by the time I registered what happened the band had already moved on, but as a listener I knew something very catchy happened. What was that change? What did the guitarist just do? Damn that drum fill was cool…etc. This album just blazes through an incredible amount of material. I have an admittedly short attention span. It’s pathetic really. Grindcore is a helluva drug and has done some serious damage to my brain. 15 minutes is an eternity to me, so it kinda blew my mind to see this record is just over 41 minutes long and I knocked it out in just one sitting. For real. Suffocation temporarily cured my undiagnosed ADHD. That’s a Christmas miracle if I’ve ever seen one.
There’re probably more than a few of you out there who are now yelling at your computer screens. “SUFFOCATION HAS ALWAYS BEEN THIS GOOD YOU IMPATIENT, UNEDUCATED BASTARD!” Heck. Give me a break will ya? I have spun their first album a time or two in my day. But trust me, I’m not just blowing smoke when I say this new one is just fantastic. It’s incredibly technical but never overwhelmingly so. In my opinion that’s a hard line to walk. I’m not about to shit on Gorguts‘ Obscura, but I also don’t find it very approachable either. I think Suffocation strikes a perfect balance in that I can always follow the riff, but the flow is consistently surprising and engaging. Normally I’d directly credit the drummer for that, but in this case it’s everyone working in tandem.
Terrance Hobbs’ guitar-work has all the chuggy, palm-muted goodness needed to keep things heavy, but it switches on a dime to shreds and noodles. It presents a ton of opportunity for the drums to swoop in and accent the zillion note onslaught. I actually looked up the drummer Eric Morotti because I was so impressed. He’s only been with the band since 2016 and I expected some extensive background in death metal, but it was a lot of projects I’d never heard of. After listening to this, I’m inclined to check them out. To say the man is a machine feels like an understatement. There were a lot of moments here where I was already stoked on the playing, then he’d add some little flourish like doubling up on the bass drum or push right into a tight fill that moved everything along at just the right pace. And before I forget, hats off to Derek Boyer on bass. There’s an impressive break on the track “Descendants”, but of course he’s playing to that level the whole time if you listen closely.
For anyone who isn’t sold yet, this album also has its fair share of straight up knuckle-dragging slams and face-melting solos. If you wanted to be a real sneak, you could probably slip a couple tracks into a metalcore/hardcore fan’s playlist and trick them into listening to some good music for once (KIDDING OF COURSE! Well sort of…).
As usual you’re all in luck. I pay little attention to new releases and by the time I became aware of this record it was already out. Stream it wherever the hell you want. What do I care?
5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Pick up Hymns From The Apocrypha now on Bandcamp!