Now 20 years into their career and a few albums into their comeback, New York death metal institution Suffocation have unleashed what could be their strongest effort to date, the crushing, technically dazzling opus they are calling Pinnacle of Bedlam. Sea of Tranquility Publisher caught up with guitarist Guy Marchais recently to talk about the new CD, touring plans, their new drummer, and this thing we call 'extreme metal'.
SoT: Congrats on the new album-Pinnacle of Bedlam is without a doubt a worthy addition to your legendary discography. Can you give a snapshot of what the band has been up to since the release of Blood Oath a few years back?
GUY MARCHAIS: We have been touring, writing, touring, writing oh and I've also been fishing. (laughs)
SoT: You've got a new drummer in the band-can you talk about how you guys hooked up with Dave Culross, and how hard it was for him to fill Mike Smith's shoes?
GUY MARCHAIS: We have been friends with Dave for years and he lives here on Long Island, he was the best choice to replace Mike. I can't really speak for Dave, but from my point of view it didn't look like it was hard for him at all.
SoT: Though Suffocation were arguably one of the first of the really technical death metal acts at the start of the '90s, it's pretty common now to see newer bands picking up the style and really impressing with some strong material. Do you feel you need to always be on top of your game and keep your sound fresh and your new output even more adventurous than the last to keep up with the younger guns on the scene?
GUY MARCHAIS: We just play what we love play, I don't think we care at all about what they are playing in a competition way.
SoT: The new CD Pinnacle of Bedlam contains some killer tracks, like "Sullen Days", "Eminent Wrath", and the title song among others. What are some of your favorite tunes on the CD, and which ones might make it into your live set?
GUY MARCHAIS: We love them all and eventually you will see them all in our set. Come to the shows and see what we play!
SoT: Speaking of live shows, what is your touring schedule looking like in 2013, and who might you be going out with this time?
GUY MARCHAIS: It's too early to say but I know we will be hitting USA, Europe, South America, and Asia.
SoT: The band can always be counted on to deliver the good in a big way live-how hard is it to channel the power & energy that you have live onto a studio recording?
GUY MARCHAIS: Wow I'm kind of stumped... live we mostly feed off of our sound and the crowd. I really don't have an answer, I guess we just try our best and cross our fingers! (laughs)
SoT: With all the touring you've done over the years, you've no doubt shared the stage and the hung out on the road with some of the best in the business. Who are some of the bands, past and present, who you've enjoyed touring with the most?
GUY MARCHAIS: For me personally I had fun touring with Napalm Death!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Morbid Angel, the Faceless, Goatwhore, Devil Driver, and a shitload of others .
SoT: Suffocation has always adorned their albums with some pretty impressive artwork-can you talk about the cover art for Pinnacle of Bedlam and who you worked with this time around?
GUY MARCHAIS: We worked with Raymond Swanland on this album- he is SICK!
SoT: Extreme metal in the last few years seems to have gotten a little stagnant, possibly due to too many death-core/metal-core/melodic death metal bands coming out of the woodwork and all sounding identical to each other. Have you noticed this as well, and what would you advise a young band to do to sound fresh and distinguish themselves from the pack?
GUY MARCHAIS: Everybody just needs to be themselves. Play what you "know" and "know " what you play, simple as that!
SoT: 2013 is here, you have a brand new CD, tours lined up, a great record label behind you, and the immediate future looks good. Where do you see Suffocation, say, 5 years from now?
GUY MARCHAIS: Hopefully with 3 more CDs out!
(Click here to read our review of Pinnacle of Bedlam)