Suffocation - …Of The Dark Light album review
NY’s death metal originals seek an upgrade
It should come as no surprise that, musically speaking,… Of The Dark Light is a direct extension of its three predecessors. Suffocation’s first post-reunion platter, 2004’s Soul To Deny was clearly designed to reassure all of those who thought that the band whose Effigy Of The Forgotten debut still shapes 95% of the current US death metal had since lost their mojo. From the Long Islanders’ eponymous 2006 album onwards, all their efforts have been focused on keeping their feet in the late 80s tradition while dipping their toes into the 21st century. And here they’ve extended that approach by closing the album with a re-recorded track from their 1993 misstep, Breeding The Spawn.
But underneath the expected onslaught, there’s actually more than meets the eye here. With two new full-time members, both of whom were still wearing diapers when Effigy... swept the slate clean, and with Frank Mullen openly on his way out, sharing vocal duties with similarly styled former Pyrexia frontman, Kevin Muller, as well as a musical equilibrium now slightly more balanced towards the present age,_ ...Of The Dark Light_ will probably be remembered as a marker point. It’s by no means an awkward, too-late-for-the-party Suicide Silence-style trend reversal, but rather a subtle reassessment of Suffocation’s overall dynamic. The drums, now heavily triggered, tend to lead the charge, while the guitars have become more dissociated from one another amidst a more modern-sounding mix courtesy of Zeuss. In short, Suffocation are trying to catch up with the whole Unique Leader Records/Summer Slaughter/Hot Topic generation by upgrading their armoury while trying not to sacrifice their core sound. Sometimes, it does work, such as on the tortuous title track with its surprisingly melodic leads, and sometimes it doesn’t, especially when they abandon their own brand of palm-muting riffing groove (aka the NYC style) for something too syncopated and sterile. Suffocation are no doubt trying to remain relevant instead of taking the easy road, but by doing so, they’re in danger of sounding like one of the numerous young copycats they’ve spawned over the years rather than the real thing.