New York death metal icons Suffocation return with their eighty full length album …Of The Dark Light, and it appears to be the swan song for longtime vocalist Frank Mullen. The band has experienced a bit of upheaval in recent years such as parting ways with longtime drummer Mike Smith. But unlike that, this parting with Mullen was planned and a long time in the making. No, Suffocation are not going anywhere, merely a changing of the guard.
The guttural vocal style of Mullen’s has always been the glue that holds together this technical cacophony and through 8 new songs and the continuing tradition of re-recording a song from Breeding The Spawn, he continues to hold his own.
Right from the get go, he and founding member and guitarist Terrance Hobbs form the band’s nucleus and pummel you hard with riffs on “Clarity Through Deprivation.” Hobbs shows off his technical acumen with solos thrown in the middle of “Return To The Abyss,” almost sounding a bit like Morbid Angel during different sections of the song.
The band had a misstep with Blood Oath a few years ago, but moved in the positive direction with its follow up, Pinnacle of Bedlam. It now feels like it too has been topped by the monster of an album that …Of The Dark Light is.
For a band that has been going strong in the seminal days of death metal, Suffocation show absolutely no signs of rust; even with Mullen’s departure a known entity. He has given his blessing to a replacement, as well as other band members who were sought out by Hobbs. If you are looking for your fix of brutal technicality, you should look no further than the band whom made this style famous in the first place.
(released June 16, 2017 on Nuclear Blast Records)