by MythofRock


This year might be called the “year of the American death metal”. Coincidentally, historic, influential acts emerged again to “torture” ears which are eager for perverted, rotten sounds and chaos. Obituary, Incantation, Dying Fetus, Cannibal Corpse, Autopsy, and now Suffocation, released a barrage of albums that caused anticipation and -more or less- satisfaction among deathsters. Indeed, in 2023 we had a lot of new stuff to talk about!

Concerning Suffocation, their first album in six years, “Hymns from the Apocrypha” is the first one without their iconic, long-time singer, Frank Mullen, who parted ways with the band in 2018 and was replaced by Ricky Myers (Disgorge’s drummer) a year later. That alone, combined with the lengthy interval since the rather mediocre (for their standards) “…of the Dark Light”, makes Suffocation’s new album a real attention grabber.

We’re talking about a highly influential band in extreme metal, but in an objective point of view, in recent years Suffocation have become rather predictable; and this is a natural occurrence. Of course, predictability isn’t correlated with their quality status. Beyond doubt, they still unleash brutality and chaos through their technical virtues, although heaviness has somehow settled down, partly due to the approach that production teams adopted in previous albums. Indeed, I missed Suffocation’s suffocation in “Pinnacle of Bedlam” and “…of the Dark Light”!

“Hymns from the Apocrypha” comes to restore things to their rightful place, as the path to Suffocation’s real atmosphere is unraveled. The new compositions may not differ significantly compared to the past, showcasing the fast, devastating, rough Suffo-death metal we know, with constantly changing motives and technicalities, but this time the sound is filthier and -luckily- more crushing, without being murky though.

Their Chuginess emerges relentlessly in Hobbs’ sick, rambling ideas, while Boyer’s bass is dominant and omnipresent, mangling (un)lucky spines in this kingdom of breakdowns and battering patterns. Errigo and Morotti, on their second work with the band, contribute to the quintet’s more cohesive performance (the latter unleashes tons of blasts), proving that time was on their side. However, “Hymns from the Apocrypha” wouldn’t sound so brutal, without Myers’ voice. His extremely guttural vocals are perfectly appropriate for Suffocation, deepening further all songs, thus proving that he’s a worthy successor of Mullen. Actually, his performance is even better than Mullen’s in the rerecording of “Ignorant Deprivation” (and I’m not kidding!).

Surely, you’ll find interesting stuff in most songs, mainly in the self-titled “Hymns from the Apocrypha”, “Perpetual Deception”, Immortal Execration”, “Seraphim Enslavement”, “Delusions of Mortality” and “Ignorant Deprivation”, where you’ll experience the sickness of the riffs and the torturing breakdown to full extent…

Suffocation return with a well-known, yet better executed recipe, clarifying that they can sound insanely crushing, even in the fourth decade of their existence. Of course, they can hardly surprise you after all these years. However, “Hymns from the Apocrypha” is up to concern not-so-sensitive brains that seek heavy, claustrophobic environments.

Eventually, if you want to know how I felt after listening to the album, refer to the ending of the hilarious stoning scene of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”. Suffocation hadn’t thrown a huge boulder on us for quite some time… The purpose is fulfilled… Long live the boulder!

PS: At last, we have an artwork representative of Suffocation’s chaotic essence! Kudos to the Greek illustrator Giannis Nakos of Remedy Art Design for the splendid work.

♦ 7,5/10

Alex Nikolaidis






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