Suffocation - Blood Oath
Most metal fans will tell you but some may not even realized it but: without Suffocation, the face of death metal would be vastly different today. Their pioneering qualities include Frank Mullen's guttural vocal approach (prior to the band, not a fixture. Afterwards, the most well-known aspect of this sort of music), the technically profound riffage (products of Terrance Hobbs, a true legend in his own realm) and blastbeats that vary stylistically from the competition. Overall they helped push the idea of "brutal" death metal onto the masses with early albums Effigy Of The Forgotten, Breeding The Spawn and Pierced From Within. After a long hiatus, Suffocation reformed and has been building their way up to another album of similar magitude to their early classics. While it may not be possible considering they are more or less re-treading the same road they paved once upon a time, Blood Oath is as solid a release as the band has ever put together.
These songs are somewhat difficult to distinguish from one another due to the sheer volume of riffs, tempo changes and rhythmatic shifts between them all. What you're getting (and have been getting since the get-go) is a continuous wall of pummelling death metal, with more reliance on stop-start riffing, palm muting, technical flair and wickedly creative leads and solos. This is a guitar-first band and album, and it's easy to hear how every song was crafted around one or two incredibly creative riffs. The songs that do stand out for me include "Mental Hemorrhage" (it's opening riff is truly memorable) and a re-recording of an old track "Marital Decimation", which sounds much improved with it's fresh take.
Suffocation is a band that most extreme metal fans can get behind. They rely strictly on technical chops in both individual instruments and collective songwriting, dazzling the listener with layered riffs and monstrous percussion work. The vocals, while once original, now seem recycled but when you remember where they come from and what they once meant, can be respected as such. In all, for true trailblazers of a scene, Suffocation leave nothing to be desired on Blood Oath, effectively delivering the punishment in the same dramatic fashion they have been for the better part of 20 years.
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