SUFFOCATION broke ground with its absolutely gargantuan early material. A progenitor of technical death metal, the group's competition has become as stiff as a corpse in the years since then. Bands as varied as CRYPTOPSY, OBSCURA and NECROPHAGIST have pushed the envelope in their own respective ways, but the New York group has remained relevant and stood apart from many of the tech wizards. Due largely to its penchant for an overtly pulverizing attack.
High caliber musicianship has carried forward throughout the band's career; however, since the group reunited with 2004's "Souls to Deny", it has unfortunately fallen short of the standard it set with its nineties material, in terms of producing memorable music that's truly special. And while it might not be quite as unforgettable as the group's work in the good ol' days, unfortunately, "...Of the Dark Light" proves to be the best release within the scope of its “comeback" material. Certainly this album rekindles the spirit of yore.
"…Of the Dark Light", the band's eighth studio effort and first to boast the talents of drummer Eric Morotti and guitarist Charlie Errigo, is proof that SUFFOCATION, in terms of songwriting, stands head and shoulders above the competition. The unit impeccably sew memorable guitar melodies within its staple combination of blasting and guitar chugging, with thoughtful precision rendering moments that are as memorable as they are bludgeoning on songs like "Return to the Abyss", "The Violation" and the title track. "Some Things Should Be Left Alone" boasts a Middle Eastern-esque guitar melody not far removed from the obvious reference point of NILE following a relentless, blasting opening section.
SUFFOCATION's founding member and vocalist Frank Mullen is still the group's main man, certainly on this recording, yet due to the demands of some of life's responsibilities, his ability to tour is limited. When he is unable to tour, contributing vocalist Kevin Muller (THE MERCILESS CONCEPT/ex-Pyrexia) slides into pocket. He appears on "…Of the Dark Light" as well. Frankly—pun intended—it's difficult to determine any difference between the two.
The entire release is peppered with subtle accents and interesting flavors, like fluid and organic bass lines and punchy jabs, most notably on the incredibly dynamic, standout track "Caught Between Two Worlds". SUFFOCATION has sounded far too perfect and almost formulaic in recent years, but a track like this tastefully balances the band's musical maturity, cultivated over the years, along with the primal, raw delivery and spirit that characterized its nineties work. The warp-speed blitz that winds the track down is as abrasive as anything its ever written and performed. Its power is simply undeniable.
Rounding out the stellar release is a re-recording of "Epitaph of the Credulous", a blistering song from the band's second full-length: "Breeding the Spawn". SUFFOCATION continues to impress with an intensity that is unsurpassable within the realm of brutal, technical death metal. Is "…Of the Dark Light" as unforgettable as "Human Waste", "Effigy of the Forgotten", "Breeding the Spawn" and "Pierced from Within"? No. But it's the next best thing, and it's easily SUFFOCATION's best material since the group's 2004 comeback.