Feb 01

Suffocation – Pinnacle of Bedlam (2013)


Suffocation - Pinnacle Of Bedlam - Artwork

For over three decades, the members of Suffocation have remained on their perch as one of pioneers and leaders of death metal as we know it today. In that time hoards of bands, trying to emulate and overtake Suffocation, have come and gone. The band has also had to work through recent lineup changes and the news that vocalist Frank Mullen will only be able to tour on a limited basis. However, the boys from Long Island, NY still stand strong. Kicking off the new year, the band unleashes their seventh studio album, Pinnacle of Bedlam. With Mike Smith no longer behind the kit (for a second time), Dave Culross was brought back in to fill the void. In addition to his tenure with Malevolent Creation, longtime fans will remember that Culross also played for Suffocation on the Despise the Sun EP. With four years between releases and a different drummer, how would it all come together on the album? Fucking superbly.

First, let’s start off by stating that the mix on this album is far superior to that on the last release. They handed this task over to acclaimed producer, Zeuss and the difference is quite noticeable. There is significantly more weight to the sound and it’s far better balanced. The improvement in sound is immediately apparent as the opening track, “Cycles of Suffering,” comes crashing through your speakers. Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais actually have some substance to the tone and Frank Mullen’s vocals aren’t so far front in the mix, that you feel like he recorded the vocals into your face.

Having taken such a long hiatus between releases, the band really took its time in the writing and recording of Pinnacle of Bedlam. In a recent interview with The Age of Metal (which can be found here), guitarist Guy Marchais says that the album is trademark Suffocation, but that they were able to tune the finer details and release the album on their own schedule. The album tears open with “Cycles of Suffering” and the listener is greeted immediately as Frank Mullen spews his trademark growls from the opening note. The second track, “Purgatorial Punishment,” starts with a brooding riff that lifts the boot from your throat a little to let you breathe after the album opener. “Sullen Days” is a nice mid-paced burner that offers a nice break from the madness that precedes and follows it. While the whole album is fantastic, the second half really carries the listener on a bullet train through the end. “Rapture of Revocation” is a highlight among a sea of stellar tracks. The album concludes with arguably one of the albums strongest tracks. Interestingly, it also features Mike Smith on the drums. “Beginning of Sorrow” is a perfect example of why Suffocation has been able to remain on top of the scene since the late 80s. It’s searing, focused, and bludgeoning. For any fan of Suffocation, Pinnacle of Bedlam doesn’t offer up any surprises, but it is definitely what you want from from start to finish. Pure. Unadulterated. Suffocation.


* Editor’s Choice
1. “Cycles of Suffering”
2. “Purgatorial Punishment” *
3. “Eminent Wrath”
4. “As Grace Descends” *
5. “Sullen Days”
6. “Pinnacle of Bedlam”
7. “My Demise”
8. “Inversion” *
9. “Rapture of Revocation” *
10. “Beginning of Sorrow” *

Genre: Extreme/Death Metal

Record Label: Nuclear Blast

Playing Time: 38:17



[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH_N5mdjsYU&w=560&h=315]

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