Suffocation: ...Of The Dark Light Review

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Suffocation: <i>...Of The Dark Light</i> Review

Technical death metal is not for everybody. In fact, it’s a wonder that anyone would listen to such cacophonous mayhem for enjoyment. And yet, this bludgeoning sound is produced in every corner of the planet, across continents and cultures. So, maybe it’s not something to play while opening presents on Christmas morning, but there are some trained ears out there who understand the chaos.

It makes you wonder if some of the more formidable and influential music minds from the past would find any merit in technical death metal. Would Elvis Presley find any redeeming qualities in form of music that inspires zero hip gyrations? Could someone who used his music to spread love and spirituality like Jimi Hendrix be moved by something that’s primarily fueled by hatred and aggression? What about someone as universally respected as Miles Davis? He may have been called “The Prince Of Darkness,” but judging from some of his more notable quotes about the art of music, he might turn a deaf ear to a band like Suffocation. He’d likely check out after the first song, let alone stick around to see how they’ve developed on their eighth record, …Of The Dark Light.

Davis once said, “In music, silence is more important than sound.” Suffocation’s new album offers no such consideration. Aside from a few stop breaks throughout, there’s no place for your eardrums to hide. Much like everything original members guitarist Terrance Hobbs and vocalist Frank Mullen have perpetrated since their 1991 debut EP Human Waste, …Of The Dark Light is completely enveloping. The title of the open track, “Clarity Through Deprivation,” is a perfect summation of what the subsequent eight tracks provide.

It’s also clear Suffocation doesn’t abide by another famous Miles Davis quote, “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.” If there’s a place to put a note, Suffocation can find it. Hobbs and second guitarist Charlie Errigo play riffs that sound like they need three picks and elongated guitar necks to pull off. Drummer Eric Morotti’s attack is also quite inhuman.

Davis has another conflicting quote for this kind of behavior, “You have to know 400 notes that you can play, then pick the right four.” Suffocation may be guilty of playing 4,000 notes, but there is one important thing that has always set the group apart from other technical death metal acts: their understanding of a implementing a solid groove now and again. There’s plenty of violent syncopation and propeller double kick on …Of The Dark Light, but it’s the meaty, crawling half time grooves that really make the album crushing.

Here’s one final thought from “The Prince Of Darkness”, “Good music is good no matter what kind of music it is.” Hey, maybe Davis could’ve found some virtue in Suffocation after all…