New York’s very own Death Metal pioneers, Suffocation, are back with their signature neck-breaking brutality and mind-bending technicality on their latest full-length album entitled “…Of The Dark Light.” With seven full-length albums and over two and half decades of experience under their belt, its needless to say fans have high expectations for a band that effortlessly is both a backbone in the roots of Death Metal and continues to be a driving force in modern extreme music. With so many classics and memorable albums throughout the years, we are left to contemplate how well “…Of The Dark Light” holds up in comparison to the rest of the Suffocation discography.
To begin, “…Of The Dark Light” does have some notable aspects to discuss before analyzing the actual music. I’d like to note how this album has the most fitting production and tonality of any Suffocation album to date. Due to how Suffocation has always brought such a technical approach to their riffs, I’ve always wanted their albums to be more on the clean side of the production. In most of their albums, the production and the tones of particularly the guitar seem to be a tad muddy for my taste when it comes to the instrumentation’s complexity (which is totally understandable for their early albums where many producers were still discovering how to produce this style of music). The best exception to this has been, of course, the crystal clear production on Suffocation’s 2012 effort “Pinnacle of Bedlam.” Nothing felt drowned in the mix. “…Of The Dark Light” has the same top-tier production. However, the guitar tone is the icing on the cake with this album and makes the riffs hit that much harder. The guitar tone successfully captures the both the complexity of Suffocation’s riffs and also provides just the right amount of thickness that causes Suffocation’s slams and breakdowns (the other important aspect of Suffocation’s guitar work) to be utterly obliterating. Thankfully, the mix succeeds where many modern extreme metal releases fail by also having a bass tone that is noticeably thick, yet still audible. Together, the bass and guitar give the listener a well-rounded sound. As far as drums go, the kit does seem to have a slightly more rounded and full tone to them as well. They even seem a tad more on the low end than previous albums. Finally, vocals maintain the Suffocation standard from the one and only Frank Mullen. Mullen’s voice continues to achieve the perfect harmony between brutality and coherent enunciation.
“…Of The Dark Light” kicks off right with a punch in the face as you jump into the speed of “Clarity Through Deprivation”. Catchy riffs continue to build up to an absolutely crushing breakdown towards the end of the song and a memorable solo. Everything this song contains gives the listener an idea what the rest of this album holds. Everything from the riveting riffs in “Return to the Abyss” and the title track to the straight forward, old school death metal riffs in “The Violation” and “Some Things Should Be Left Alone” continue to prove Suffocation is still capable of writing really solid music. Not to mention, this album is full of absolutely pernicious slams and breakdowns that Suffocation are known for. My personal favorite track tends to be “Caught Between Two Worlds,” which has a progression of dissonant chords followed by an absurdly chunky slam around the one minute mark. I find myself replaying this progression over and over in my head hours after I listened to this record. “…Of The Dark Light” does a great job at being consistent with the Suffocation formula. Your head starts banging right at the beginning and perseveres clear till the end. The only complaint I could see with “…Of The Dark Light” music wise is it is essentially the logical step everyone would have predicted to come as the follow-up to “Pinnacle of Bedlam.” Suffocation and death metal fans will get exactly what you want. If you want a new and distinct album, this album probably won’t be what you are wishing for. Regardless of being a predictable move, I do think this album is something with a lot of replay value and it seems to grow on me with each listen.
Overall, “…Of The Dark Light” is certainly a solid addition in the Suffocation discography. While the album kept a great standard with stellar production and its slight adjustments in the tone department, the music didn’t really make a huge jump at all. “…Of The Dark Light” is Suffocation’s eighth album and fans know what to expect at this point. Suffocation didn’t take any huge risks with this album. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with that, or that the album isn’t worth owning. It’s just that if you like Suffocation, you’ll enjoy this album. If they aren’t your cup of tea, this album probably won’t change your mind.
You can check out the song “Your Last Breaths” here: