Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pillars of Taste- Effigy of the Forgotten

Without a doubt, Suffocation's first full length Effigy of the Forgotten has been the most important death metal album in my life. It was the first Suffocation release I ever heard and was the most brutal, thick, and rhythmically masterful album I have ever heard. While I know deep down somewhere that Pierced From Within might be the best Suffocation release, Effigy of the Forgotten is still my favorite.

Beyond their innovations, Suffocation just sounded so different to me. This was a point in my life where I didn't know much about metal and still thought of Max Cavelera for Soulfly and not Sepultura. I had sought out other genre stalwarts such as Morbid Angel, Deicide, Carcass, and Obituary, but none of them stuck with me the way Suffocation did.

Small factors could've played a role. They were neighbors out on Long Island, me in Brooklyn, I had just picked up drums and thought the world of Mike Smith's style, technique and swagger, and they were interracial;  a huge abnormality in the world of metal. Beyond those tidbits, Suffocation pioneered a style that became diluted and  suffocating. While they introduced painful slams and breakdowns to their music they also incorporated extremely thrashy and godly metal stylings that helped them build favor with metalheads and hardcore kids alike. Unfortunately those bands who copied them lost this and moved away from Suffocation's strength in diversity.


Visceral is probably the best word to describe the Effigy. Slower sections sound like churning pools of sewage and offal accompanied by the ominous thuds of dead elephants in the mixture. The drums lock in with the guitars as they pummel and smash, the guitars at times sound more percussive than melodic, and the production overall is thick and viscous.

The muddy, thick and bottom heavy guitar and bass tone are its hallmarks. Right on the edge between corrosive and indiscernible, Terrance Hobbs and Doug Cerrito chug and weave throughout each track so fluidly, a great example being  the opener "Liege Of Inveracity" with the greatest breakdown of all time or "Mass Obliteration" which finds enough time for some solos in between those amazing chugga chugga refrains. Locking in with Smith's trap, Mullen's demonic gurgles and that anchor of a bass, the guitars play something completely discernible  This discernability- sometimes even catchiness- is a testament to Suffocation's craft as they didn't just chug away anything; they relied on recognizable riffs, quality ones at that.

As I mentioned earlier, Mike Smith's performance is one of my favorite drum performances ever recorded. Technically speaking Smith is a beast. He might not go to light speed like other big death metal drummers, but his syncopation,  precision and style are unmatched. His style epitomizes Suffocation perfectly- technical and masterful yet dressed up in a primal suit of strong rhythm, pronounced accents, and satisfying thuds. A strength of the band is when the drums and guitars lock into a particular vibe and hammer the listener in the gut.


Sometime around 2004 or 05 they played with Cryptopsy amongst others here in NYC and the opening act, Despised Icon (who epitomized the deathcore fad that was gaining momentum at the time) said that playing NYC was special for them as their favorite hardcore act, Madball, and their favorite death metal act, Suffocation, both called the place home. This has always stuck with me. Perhaps no death metal band has had such an important cross genre influence, for better or worse, than Suffocation.

So there. I've embarked on a quest that I think scares everyone who writes about their interests. Putting into words how much you love your favorite records is a tough task, but I hope my enthusiasm will seep into whomever reads this little blog and cause some kind of reaction. I will continue by genres and once I'm done I'll simply be able to make equations as to why I like bands.

Ex 666. Suffocation+Despise You (Nadja) Darkthrone/Slayer+y=x Solve for x.


blasting D said...

good post. Suffocation is indeed a very special band. clearly one of the best Death metal act. Cannibal corpse and Morbid angel were more influential for me but Suffocation (I discovered them with Pierced from within) are among the few ones that comes just after.

Andrew Childers said...

you mind reading bastard! i was just contemplating doing a musical biography of landmark albums in my life but i didn't know if that would be crawling too far up my own asshole. but you've got me rethinking that now.

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