Suffocation performing in January 2010 (from left: Hobbs, Boyer, Mullen, Marchais; Smith in the background)
|Origin||Centereach, Long Island, New York, United States|
|Genres||Death metal, technical death metal|
|Years active||1988–1998, 2002–present|
|Labels||Nuclear Blast, Relapse, Roadrunner|
|Past members||Doug Cerrito
Suffocation is an American death metal band that was formed in 1988 in Centereach, Long Island, New York. The band comprises vocalist Frank Mullen, guitarists Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais, drummer Dave Culross and bassist Derek Boyer. Suffocation rose to prominence of death metal and created a blueprint for the genre for the 1990s with their 1991 debut album Effigy of the Forgotten. Suffocation have released seven studio albums as of 2013.
The band's raw death metal style uses growled vocals with a downtuned guitar sound, fast complex guitar riffs and drumming, and a sophisticated sense of songwriting.
Early years and the 1990s era (1988–1998)
Suffocation was formed in 1988 on Long Island, New York, by vocalist Frank Mullen, bassist Josh Barohn, guitarists Guy Marchais and Todd German, and Barohn's friend on drums. Guitarists Terrance Hobbs and Doug Cerrito, along with drummer Mike Smith, former members of a local band Mortuary that disbanded at the time, joined Suffocation and created a new lineup with Mullen, Hobbs, Smith, Cerrito and Barohn. The quintet was mainly influenced by fellow American death metal bands as well as the British band Napalm Death and Brazilian Sepultura. Smith commented on meeting Hobbs for the first time: "That's where I first noticed, 'Wow, theres another black guy playing this kind of stuff'." The band's first EP, Human Waste, was released through Relapse Records in 1991. The full-length debut album, Effigy of the Forgotten, recorded by producer Scott Burns at Tampa's Morrisound Studios and released by Roadrunner Records the same year. The album became substantially influential in extreme metal music.
After the following album, Breeding the Spawn, was released in 1993, Smith left the band and was replaced by Doug Bohn. The 1995 release Pierced from Within, which received better production than the previous release, was followed by extensive tours in Europe, Canada, Mexico and the United States. In 1998, Suffocation released the EP Despise the Sun via Vulture Records and disbanded soon after. The EP was re-released later in 2000 and 2002 by Relapse Records.
Reunion and later (2003–present)
Mullen and Hobbs reformed in 2003 with Smith, Marchais and Derek Boyer of the bands Deeds of Flesh and Decrepit Birth on bass. In April 2004, Relapse Records released Souls to Deny. After the band played more than 400 shows in the United States and Europe including the Wacken Festival in Germany, playing to over 33,000 fans, Suffocation released their self-titled album, Suffocation, in 2006. In 2007, the band was featured in The History Channel's promotional video for The Dark Ages documentary, playing the song "Bind, Torture, Kill".
In 2008, the band signed to the German Nuclear Blast Records and released their album Blood Oath in 2009. The album charted on the US Billboard 200 at number 135. In 2009, Relapse released the live album entitled Close of a Chapter—Live in Québec City, that was previously self-released by the band in 2005. The release of a documentary film Legacy of Violence was set for 2010, but has since been delayed. In May 2010, Suffocation toured with Napalm Death in South America and Mexico. In the fall of 2010, Suffocation embarked on a North American headlining tour with The Faceless, Decrepit Birth, and Fleshgod Apocalypse. In February, 2012, Mike Smith left the band again, to be replaced by Dave Culross.
In 2012, the band was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. In September 2012, Suffocation announced the release of their seventh studio album, Pinnacle of Bedlam, which was released on 15 February 2013.
Musical style and legacy
Suffocation's death metal style is influenced by grindcore. The band uses "outrageously guttural vocals with a bottom-heavy guitar foundation, blistering speed, unparalleled brutality and sophisticated sense of songwriting, complex time changes and lead and rhythm guitar acrobatics" and frequent breakdowns.
With their debut album, Effigy of the Forgotten, Suffocation rose to prominence of death metal and created a blueprint for the genre for the 1990s, retaining their style after the reunion in 2003. Decibel Magazine stated: "Effigy of the Forgotten was a benchmark for extreme music, as it sacrificed neither virtuosity or brutality, becoming a signpost for thousands who were still contemplating how to incorporate scalar runs, rapid-fire palm-muting and hummingbird-wing-quick picking into riffs, while opening up rhythmic dimensions and the scope of the blast beat."
Blabbermouth.net described Suffocation as "American death metal's most consistent and punishing standard-bearers" and their style as "brutal death metal". According to AllMusic, Mullen is one of the best vocalists in death metal. The band is as well credited for writing the first ever slam riff. The first slam ever was pioneered in Suffocation's song "Liege of Inveracity", found on their debut 1991 album Effigy of the Forgotten.
- Stewart-Panko, Kevin (#055 May 2009). "The Memory Remains: The Making of Suffocation's Effigy of the Forgotten". Decibel Magazine.
- John Bush, Suffocation, AllMusic.
- Suffocation history at official Suffocation Myspace.
- Leslie Mathew, Pierced from Within, AllMusic.
- Suffocation: New Audio Interview with Frank Mullen Posted Online - Feb. 7, 2007, Blabbermouth.net.
- Suffocation Frontman Talks New Album - Mar. 30, 2009, Blabbermouth.net.
- Suffocation's 'Blood Oath' Lands on Billboard Chart - July 22, 2009, Blabbermouth.net.
- Stewart-Panko, Kevin (#064 February 2010). "Suffocation; Close of a Chapter—Live in Québec City". Decibel Magazine.
- Scott Alisoglu, The Close of a Chapter: Live in Quebec City, Blabbermouth.net.
- Suffocation: 'Legacy of Violence' DVD Preview Available - Jan. 8, 2010, Blabbermouth.net.
- Suffocation Announces Mexico/South America Tour with Napalm Death - Oct. 26, 2009, Blabbermouth.net.
- Suffocation: New Album Details Revealed - Sep. 20, 2012, Blabbermouth.net.
- Eduardo Rivadavia, Effigy of the Forgotten, AllMusic.
- Lee, Cosmo (#059 September 2009). "Suffocation reclaim their rightful place as kings of death metal". Decibel Magazine. "One of Suffocation's trademarks, breakdowns, has spawned an entire metal subgenre: deathcore" .
- Eduardo Rivadavia, Breeding the Spawn, AllMusic.
- William York, Souls to Deny, AllMusic.
- Greg Prato, Suffocation, AllMusic.
- Alex Henderson, Blood Oath, AllMusic.
- Keith Bergman, Suffocation Suffocation (Relapse), Blabbermouth.net.
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