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Suffocation: Pinnacle of Bedlam

New York's very own Suffocation have been around so long sometimes it's hard not to take them for granted. Their brand of brutal, technical death metal just seems so 'dependable' from one release to the next, and while some detractors claim that perhaps the band keeps churning out the same album over and over again, if you listen really closely to their music, especially on their latest Pinnacle of Bedlam, there's so much going on musically behind the brutality that it's quite silly actually to accuse these guys of repetitiveness.

Pinnacle of Bedlam has one thing in common with all the Suffocation albums that came before it; the mix of extreme metal brutality and jaw-dropping complexity is ever present. Tracks like "Sullen Days", "Rapture Of Revocation", and "Inversion" are just crushing from start to finish, with plenty of intricate guitar riffs, fills, solos, and nimble drum work flying about the mix, all the while Frank Mullen's trademark growls bludgeon you to death. With the emergence of so many excellent technical death metal bands on the scene in recent years, it's almost as if Suffocation have upped the ante a bit on Pinnacle of Bedlam, as some of these tunes, like "Eminent Wrath" right off the top of my head, just blaze with insane guitar work from Guy Marchais & Terrance Hobbs, and new drummer Dave Culross fits right in with some complex blasting. And wait till you check out the sizzling lead guitar work on the title track, which is mind blowing, and is the perfect compliment to the churning, technical riff-o-rama.

It almost seems like each of the past few years we've been treated to outstanding technical death metal releases right out of the gate at the start of the new year, with recent albums by Spawn of Possession and Obscura being the ones of note in 2012 and 2011. Here in 2013 those old veterans Suffocation are the ones to blow some minds at the start of the year, as their latest Nuclear Blast release Pinnacle of Bedlam is sure to leave many impressed listeners in its wake.

Track Listing
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

Added: April 3rd 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 3873
Language: english

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Suffocation: Pinnacle of Bedlam
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-04-03 20:43:59
My Score:

If the American death metal veterans in Suffocation have done one thing right over the years, it's their ability to consistently deliver some of the most brutal, technical, and downright impressive extreme music out there. Although they could be legitimately criticized for remaining rather stagnant throughout their lengthy career, one thing remains abundantly clear on Pinnacle of Bedlam - even after twenty five years in the business, Suffocation is still able to churn out some of the best technical death metal on the scene today. The band doesn't offer too many new ideas on their seventh full-length album, but the quality is held to such an impeccable standard that it's difficult not to be blown away.

From most perspectives, Pinnacle of Bedlam is nothing new under the sun for Suffocation. One could argue that the album sounds more modern than the band's other works thanks to its sleek sound production, but I think that's a rather minor detail in the grand scheme of things - this is the old school Suffocation that everybody has come to know and love from start to finish, which means that brutal American death metal with a strong technical edge should be expected. Suffocation doesn't give its listeners very many times to catch their breath, as almost the entire album is characterized by devastating riffs, frantic lead guitar work, and speedy drum fills. Plenty of heavy grooves are worked into the mix alongside the frenzied blast beats and tempo changes, though, so lack of variation is never an issue. While this style of music often strikes me as lacking in dynamics and subtlety, Suffocation has always amazed me with their ability to stay faithful to this style while still retaining a high level of memorability, and this is certainly the case on Pinnacle of Bedlam.

Some of the band's best songs ever penned, like the killer opening track "Cycles of Suffering" and the especially wonderful "Sullen Days" (this one finds the band incorporating a few melodic ideas into their work - pretty damn cool!), are on Pinnacle of Bedlam; the entire album is intense as hell, though, so listeners shouldn't expect any monotony to set in while giving this one a spin. When all is said and done, Pinnacle of Bedlam is yet another top-notch observation in Suffocation's discography, and while it would be cool to hear the band attempt something radically different next time around, I will be perfectly happy if they keep churning out records of this quality time and time again. Pinnacle of Bedlam is simply a must-have for any technical death metal fan!

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