A seemingly endless supply of imitators arises from all corners of the world today, but none of these bands can top Suffocation, or preempt the sheer anticipation that builds when a new album is to be released. Anticipation has now reached a crescendo with the imminent release of Pinnacle Of Bedlam.
Suffocation have held steady since the release of their self titled album in 2006. A very solid album of modern, brutally heavy death metal, Suffocation upped the ante even further with 2009’s Blood Oath. As good as those albums are, Pinnacle Of Bedlam tops both and is easily Suffocation’s best release since Pierced From Within.
Immediately, a number of issues stand out. First and foremost, the songwriting is extremely taut and focused. That fierce tautness was somewhat lacking on Blood Oath, which had a tendency to meander as Suffocation sought to experiment with drawn out, slower songs. Second, Pinnacle Of Bedlam is blisteringly fast with highly defined musicianship that has to be heard to be believed.
Guitarists Terrence Hobbs and Guy Marchais are at the top of their game, and Derek Boyer’s bass sounds deeper, fuller and much more forceful than what was previously heard on Blood Oath, for example. New full time drummer Dave Culross is more than an adequate replacement for the highly regarded Mike Smith, and now appears on a Suffocation recording for the first time since 1998’s Despise The Sun EP.
Songs seamlessly segue into one another, as Pinnacle Of Bedlam contains several bona fide classics. Songs such as the monstrous opener “Cycles Of Suffering,” “As Grace Descends” and the title track have the potential to become live set mainstays that could rival the stature of “Liege Of Inveracity” and “Infecting The Crypts.”
The stature of these new songs is helped immensely by the proverbial two ton weight dropped by the unbelievably dense production. Like Blood Oath, Pinnacle Of Bedlam is produced by Joe Cincotta along with Suffocation, but is noticeably fuller with a more bottom heavy sound. All instruments shine with perfect clarity, and the sheer thickness of the production has to simply be heard to be appreciated.
As an added bonus, Suffocation’s desire to re-record their horribly produced second album, Breeding The Spawn continues on Pinnacle Of Bedlam with “Beginning Of Sorrow” closing out the album.
It would be hard to characterize an album released by a band that has been around for decades as a landmark. Pinnacle Of Bedlam is probably not going to attain such status, but, then again, you could not expect it to. Nonetheless, it is already going to be hard to top in death metal this year, and I would fully expect the album to land in numerous “Best Of 2013” lists.
(released February 19, 2013 on Nuclear Blast Records)