Suffocation - Pinnacle Of Bedlam
Nuclear Blast
Brutal Death Metal
10 songs (38:17)
Release year: 2013
Suffocation, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Suffocation need no introduction; the heaviest, most punishing death metal band from New York, creator of such classics as Effigy Of The Forgotten, brutal death metal legends. Since their reincarnation in 2002 the band have lost little - if any - of their mojo, and it's a pleasure to report that full-length number seven is a fine addition to their discography. Pinnacle Of Bedlam is notable, first and foremost, for the clearest production I've ever heard the band having, meaning that no longer is listening to their albums akin to coating yourself in sludge and grovelling in slime (not that there's anything wrong with that!) Turning almost razor-sharp, Suffocation's sense of weight and power is ever so slightly diminished by this, but fear not, fans of brutality, this is still music to hit people in the faces with bricks to, still very much grime-coated and flexing more aural muscle than most hardcore bands. The technical side of the band is here ramped right up so that songs are twisty-turny slabs of brutality that cut and scrape like the fantastic machines of death depicted on early Suffocation album artworks. From barrages of violence like My Demise and the title track to more typically stop-start rampages like Eminent Wrath, starting with a solo and gripping immediately, the band are powerfully intense, never sounding less than vicious.

It's worth noting that Suffocation mainstay drummer Mike Smith has departed, replaced by Dave Culross (who drummed for the band on 2004's Despise The Sun EP, as well as working with the likes of Disgorged and Malevolent Creation) but there's no effect on the quality of the music - the band sound wonderfully together and mechanical, firing on all cylinders. There's not particularly anything new to the formula that's worth commenting on, although the melodic meanderings at the start and end of Sullen Days fit wonderfully, dreamy and dissonant between stretches of nasty crunching, pounding death metal. Yet the lack of anything new is secondary to the sheer expertise on show here. As fans will know, Suffocation are all about the death metal, and boy, do they deliver. The torrent of violence is almost poetic, the band dancing from track to track with a perfect flow, not even a pause for breath before the next blow. Highlights are frequent, moments of excellence constant. Opener Cycles Of Suffering doesn't give you moment's preparation as it barrels immediately in, announcing Suffocation's presence with gleeful brutality - a brutality that seethes and hisses at you throughout the album, a constant threat. Superior riff-assaults like As Grace Descends are technically perfect, the likes of Purgatorial Punishment turning on a pin.

This is not an album that's easy to fathom on the first listen, chiefly because Suffocation don't allow an ounce of fat; at just over thirty-eight minutes, with songs only rarely over four minutes in length, this is a lean, mean, machine. Each song is a point made, a fist pounded in, from the oddly melodic descending Inversion to the chugging of Rapture Of Revocation, more meaty and muscular than any hardcore posturing. Ultimately, Suffocation remain what they've always been, a bunch of ordinary, down-to-earth guys making extraordinary music. Why? Because they love it, and you can't fault that. Nor can you fault Pinnacle Of Bedlam, ultimately, a death metal package that rattles your teeth and hurts your neck as good death metal should.

Killing Songs :
Cycles Of Suffering, Eminent Despair, As Grace Descends, My Demise, Inversion, Rapture Of Revocation
Goat quoted 81 / 100
Other albums by Suffocation that we have reviewed:
Suffocation - Live in North America reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Suffocation - ...of the Dark Light reviewed by Goat and quoted 65 / 100
Suffocation - Effigy Of The Forgotten reviewed by Kyle and quoted CLASSIC
Suffocation - Blood Oath reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
Suffocation - Suffocation reviewed by Dylan and quoted 82 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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