What’s up Butcher Crew?! It’s me! The Saw! And I’ve got another new Album Review for you (hasn’t late 2021 been great for dropped Metal?)! On November 12, 2021, the O.G.s, Suffocation, released Live in North America. It’s a live record (obviously) featuring the final performances of Frank Mullen (vocals). So, this is more a Review of Frank and Suffocation and less about, specifically, the live album.
The Live Album
I (personally) have mixed feelings about live recordings – some are really good, many are not. Some bands struggle to capture the sound of the studio. And, particularly in Death Metal, often the vocals don’t quite have the rumbles of the throaty gutterals. That said, some Live albums I really like. Live After Death (Iron Maiden) and Pursuit of Vikings (Amon Amarth), for example.
Live in North America is very well done, both by the engineers, and by the band. Recording straight through the sound board is most effective to truly hear the band, although hearing the crowd is a problem. Suffocation sound precise and meticulously clean on this live recording. In fact, considering the brutal technicality of their craft, this live record really shows their raw talent. And Frank’s trademark gutterals are captured beautifully. His voice is clear and his words understandable, while he delivers the goods (as usual) with force and power. The song selection spans their 30+ year career – crowd favorites.
Frank and Suffocation
Frank is one of the founding members of Suffocation, beginning in 1988. Suffocation is one of the founding bands of the New York Extreme Metal scene (along with Incantation, Mortician, and Immolation). While many American Death Metal bands of the time left their various places of origin, moving to Tampa, Florida (Cannibal Corpse, for example), some in New York stayed to stake a claim in the New York scene. In fact, the scene in New York City was massive and monstrous in the 80s and 90; second only to Tampa (Obituary, Morbid Angel, and Death, etc.). At the time, California also had an Extreme Metal movement, lead by Possessed.
Suffocation is a perfect storm! The complicated and intricate music is matched by the brutality and beauty of Frank’s vocals, and also the genius subject matter of his vocals. This live album proves that Frank and Suffocation’s brilliance is not some recording trickery. This perfect storm is the reason why Suffocation led the way in the New York scene. Today, Suffocation has world wide acclaim, and unanimous respect, as one of the premier Death Metal outfits.
Frank’s retirement (from touring) leaves some questions concerning Suffocation. However, these questions are answered in Ricky Myers (vocals). In 2013 Frank announced that, because of his day job, he would retire from touring. Various guest vocalists filled the spot (even John Gallagher of Dying Fetus). Ricky Myers (famed, Disgorge founder) presently holds the reigns, and fits the bill remarkably well. The latest Suffocation studio album, 2017s …Of the Dark Light (Nuclear Blast) features Frank Mullen and Ricky Myers sharing vocal duty. The purveyor of Suffocation can tell the difference in the two!
The Legacy of Suffocation
Since 1990, Suffocation has been on a major record label – first Roadrunner, then Relapse, and for years, Nuclear Blast. In 2012, the band was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. Decibel Magazine named Suffocation “the benchmark for extreme music… incorporating scalar runs, rapid-fire palm muting, and hummingbird-wing-quick picking into riffs, while opening dimensions…for blast beats.” In another article Decibel Magazine credits Suffocation for inspiring a subgenre, “one of [the band’s] trademarks, breakdowns, has spawned an entire subgenre, deathcore.” Blabbermouth.net described Suffocation as “American Death Metals most consistent and punishing standard-bearers,” coining a phrase to describe Suffocation’s brand of extreme metal, “Brutal Death Metal.” According to AllMusic, Frank Mullen is “one of the best vocalists in Death Metal.” Suffocation’s contribution to the New York scene, and Metal as a whole, is the fact that they are one of the pioneers of Technical Death Metal.
Terrance Hobbs (lead guitar) – 1990 – present
Derek Boyer (bass) – 2004 – present
Charlie Errigo (rhythm guitar) – 2016 – present
Eric Morotti (drums) – 2016 – present
Ricky Myers (vocals) – 2015 – present
Effigy of the Forgotten – 1991, Roadrunner Records
Breeding the Spawn – 1993, Roadrunner Records
Pierced from Within – 1995, Roadrunner Records
Souls to Deny – 2004, Relapse Records
Suffocation – 2006, Relapse Records
Blood Oath – 2009, Nuclear Blast
Pinnacle of Bedlam – 2013, Nuclear Blast
…Of the Dark Light – 2017, Nuclear Blast
Live in North America – 2021, Nuclear Blast
Rumor has it that Suffocation is working on new material! I’m excited! Let the legacy continue!