overground scene

Suffocation in Brighton

Last Tuesday I had the honor of attending for the second time in my life a Suffocation gig. Suffocation has consistently been among my all-time favorite death bands since I first listened to them around 1997. By that time European death metal was dying off, with cornerstones of the genre either disbanding (e.g. Carcass, At The Gates, Pestilence, Asphyx), morphing (e.g. Napalm Death, EntombedGorefest) or crossing (way) over (e.g. Massacra, Afflicted). Moreover, during and after that period many old-school bands, such as Unleashed, Grave, Benediction went into extended hiatuses (or maybe hiati?). During this period the European death-metal fan went through serious musical identity crisis. For sure bands like Bolt Thrower and Dismember went on but, still, with less enthusiasm. Shining exceptions to this trend were brilliant old-school bands such as Sinister (Hate, Aggressive measures, Creative killings, etc.) and Vader (De profundis, Black to the blind) which kept releasing uncompromisingly fresh and innovative death metal.

On the other side of the Atlantic, though, the majority of old-school brutal death metal was still going strong. Malevolent creation were releasing brutality in the shape of In cold blood and The fine art of murder, Deicide were releasing one of the best records in their career (serpents of the light), Monstrosity released the monster called Millennium, Cannibal Corpse were making a new (brutal) start with Vile. Most importantly a new breed of hyper-brutal death metal (e.g. Deeds of flesh, Dying fetus, Nile, Hate EternalDisgorge, etc.) was finding its identity and was making things very interesting. However, lack of interest (from both the media and the fans who were turning their attention to the new trends emerging during that period) in death metal in the late 1990s took its toll in the US too. Apart from Obituary, who disbanded after the release of Back from the dead, the other huge band that called it quits was the mighty Suffocationsuffocation_invert

The first album I heard from them was Pierced from within and it was love at first listen. I bought Effigy of the forgotten during one of my record-hunts of the summer of ’97. A while after that I bought Human waste from a local record-store (i.e. Paranoid). The last album they released before breaking up, Despise the sun, did not really impress me. I thought it was their weakest effort. For sure Culross’s drumming was fascinating, but I though that the music was not as versatile and groovy as their previous works. Anyway, when they got back together and released their masterpiece Souls to Deny, I was seriously chuffed. Me and my friends spent a lot of hours headbanging to that album. Although Cerrito was no longer there, the album was full of amazing grooves, crazy riffing and sick lyrics. Their next album was, in my opinion, equally unequaled. A true masterpiece. Since then they have released two more albums, both of which I like a lot.

The first time I saw Suffocation live was in Athens, in 2006. It was the first time I saw Frank live and it was kind of insane. Frank’s performance is something that everybody should experience in their lives. This second time that I saw them the line up was different. For one thing, Dave Culross has taken the place of Mike Smith. Mike has earned his place in modern music history as a true drum legend and nothing can change that. However, Dave is also an excellent drummer, passionate, fast, really fun to watch and, in terms of speed and precision, I think him too has earned his righteous place in death metal history (his drumming on Despise the sun and The fine art of murder have been blueprints of modern death metal drumming). The other big line-up change was that John Gallagher was filling in for Frank. Frank cannot afford to follow the band’s extensive touring plans because he has a day-job which pays the bills. Nobody can fill Frank’s shoes. However, I have to admit that John is brilliant. His vocals are extremely brutal and he can easily pull off Frank’s style, doing more justice to his extremely guttural style during the Effigy era. Not to mention that John is a mastermind of brutal death metal and his band (Dying Fetus) has probably influenced modern death metal as much as Suffocation has. During the concert, I was positioned near Terrance Hobbs, who is a death metal hero of mine, and I once more enjoyed watching him chugging out with passion and enthusiasm all these crazy riffs that have shaped modern music. Respect their authoritah!

p.s.1. Setlist: catatonia, liege of inveracity, infecting the crypts (closing song), mass obliteration, pierced from within, thrones of blood (opening song), funeral inception, purgatorial punishment, as grace descends, my demise, rapture of revocation. Definitely not my favorite setlist as it completely overlooked albums-monuments such as Breeding the spawn, Souls to deny and Suffocation.

p.s.2.The amazing artwork as seen above in its original form (I inverted the colors) is by Mark Riddick. Check out Mark’s art here.

p.s.3. Cephalic Carnage was one of the supporting bands and they were awesome!


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