Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Suffocation: Pinnacle of Bedlam (2013)


As much as people look down on slam death, brutal death, anything with breakdowns, and even technical death, nobody looks down on the band who created all of those things. Suffocation are legendary. Every few years they come down from the mountain, see all this pointless golden calf worship, smash the tablets of the law and then lay it down again. Pinnacle of Bedlam marks the fourth time they’ve done this since the band’s reformation. No matter how many times they do it, nobody else seems to get it, and nobody else does it like they do.

I’m really late to the game on this one, and you can blame Nuclear Blast for that one. But as I was buying a couple other records from labels that don’t send me promos, I decided it was time to get this one too.

Frankly (not Mullenly), this album slightly disappoints me. Everything I said above stands as God’s honest truth, but with the change in drummer there has been a slight drop in quality. I cannot overstate the importance of a great drummer, especially in a style of music that’s crowded with other practitioners. Insert racial stereotype here, but Mike Smith has such an incredible grasp of rhythm that no white death metal drummer has ever matched. Now, the drums sound like any other tech-death drums. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it was much better before.

Beyond that, everything else has remained pretty much the same as it’s been for the last decade plus. They’re still playing brutal, technical riffs that sound like death/doom at double-time, the frequent tempo changes keeping the listener fully engaged. “Sullen Days” stands out as the clear highlight of the record, being perhaps the slowest and catchiest track bookended by clean guitar. Pinch harmonics, of course, are included in the many classic solos throughout the album’s 38 minutes.

Pinnacle of Bedlam is my least favorite Suffocation record. That’s a little like saying it’s the least impressive Olympic weightlifting champion, because it’s still going to kick your ass far harder than the amateurs.

The Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

  1. I actually liked this one better than Blood Oath personally, but you are right it does not hold a candle to their earlier material.