Suffocation (band)

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Suffocation in 2017
Suffocation in 2017
Background information
OriginCentereach, New York, U.S.
GenresTechnical death metal[1]
Years active
  • 1988–1998
  • 2003–present
Associated acts
Past members
Frank Mullen (left) and Guy Marchais (right) in 2014

Suffocation is an American death metal band formed in 1988 in Centereach, New York. The band consists of lead guitarist Terrance Hobbs, bassist Derek Boyer, rhythm guitarist Charlie Errigo, drummer Eric Morotti, and vocalist Ricky Myers. Suffocation rose to prominence with their 1991 debut album Effigy of the Forgotten, which became a blueprint for death metal in the 1990s. Since then, the band has released a further seven albums. Their raw death metal style uses growled vocals with a downtuned guitar, fast and complex guitar riffs and drumming, open chord notes, occasional breakdowns (slams), and a sophisticated sense of songwriting.


Early years and the 1990s era (1988–1998)[edit]

Suffocation was formed in 1988 on Long Island, New York, by vocalist Frank Mullen, guitarists Guy Marchais and Todd German, bassist Josh Barohn, and an unknown drummer. By 1990, the band had hired guitarists Terrance Hobbs and Doug Cerrito along with drummer Mike Smith, who were members of a local band called Mortuary, which had already disbanded. 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, there's another black guy playing this kind of stuff.'"[2] 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. In July 1991, Barohn was replaced by Chris Richards, as the album became substantially influential in extreme metal music.[2][3]

After the following album, Breeding the Spawn, was released in 1993, Smith left the band and was replaced by Doug Bohn.[3][4] The 1995 release Pierced from Within, which received better production than the previous release,[5] 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.[3]

Reunion and later (2003–present)[edit]

Derek Boyer in 2017

Mullen and Hobbs reformed in 2003 with Smith, Marchais, and Barohn. After which, they hired bassist Derek Boyer of the bands Deeds of Flesh and Decrepit Birth to replace Barohn, who was fired for his drug habits.[2][4] 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.[4] In 2007, the band was featured in The History Channel's promotional video for The Dark Ages documentary, playing the song "Bind, Torture, Kill".[6]

In 2008, the band signed to the German Nuclear Blast Records[4][7] and released their album Blood Oath in 2009.[4] The album charted on the US Billboard 200 at number 135.[8] 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.[9][10] The release of a documentary film Legacy of Violence was set for 2010, but has since been delayed.[11] In May 2010, Suffocation toured with Napalm Death in South America and Mexico.[12] In February 2012, Smith left the band again, to be replaced by the returning Dave Culross.[13]

Eric Morotti in 2017

In 2012, the band was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and released Pinnacle of Bedlam in February 2013.[14] Since after the release of Pinnacle of Bedlam in 2013, vocalist Frank Mullen announced that he will retire from full-time touring with the band due to his new job. He has since been replaced by various live vocal stand ins, including Bill Robinson, John Gallagher, Kevin Muller, and, currently, Ricky Myers.

Charlie Errigo in 2017

In January 2015, Suffocation began making posts revealing that they were in the process of recording demos for a new album with a potential release date of late 2015.[15] In April 2016, the ensemble toured with Soulfly, Abnormality, Battlecross and Lody Kong.[16]

The new album's name was revealed as "...Of the Dark Light" and was released on 9 June 2017. Later in 2017, Kevin Muller, who had previously been a touring member, joined the band full-time alongside longtime vocalist Frank Mullen leading the two to share vocal duties on the last album. He subsequently stepped down at the end of the year and was replaced by a returning Myers in 2018. On 12 March 2018, it was announced that Frank Mullen would do one more tour with Suffocation before officially retiring from the band.[17] On 15 January 2019 it was announced that Mullen would return in June 2019 for a final tour of Japan.

Musical style and legacy[edit]

Suffocation is one of the earliest groups to redefine the death metal style that is recognized today. 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"[18] and frequent slam riffs and breakdowns.[19]

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,[18][20] retaining their style after the reunion in 2003.[21][22][23] 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."[2] described Suffocation as "American death metal's most consistent and punishing standard-bearers" and their style as "brutal death metal".[24] According to AllMusic, Mullen is one of the best vocalists in death metal.[5] Decibel Magazine stated: "One of Suffocation’s trademarks, breakdowns, has spawned an entire metal subgenre: deathcore."[19] Suffocation is one of the pioneers of technical death metal.[1]





Former live musicians

  • Bill Robinson – vocals (2012)
  • John Gallagher – vocals (2013)
  • Kevin Muller – vocals (2017)

Lead guitarist[edit]

  • Todd German – lead guitar (1988–1990)

Rhythm guitarists[edit]

  • Guy Marchais – rhythm guitar (1988–1990, 2003–2016)
  • Doug Cerrito – rhythm guitar (1990–1998)


  • Josh Barohn – bass (1988–1991, 2003–2004)
  • Chris Richards – bass (1991–1998)




Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales
US Heat.
US Ind.
Effigy of the Forgotten
  • Released: 22 October 1991
  • Label: Roadrunner Records
  • Formats: CD, CS, LP, download[29]
Breeding the Spawn
  • Released: 18 May 1993
  • Label: Roadrunner Records
  • Formats: CD, CS, LP, download[30]
Pierced from Within
  • Released: 23 May 1995
  • Label: Roadrunner Records
  • Formats: CD, CS, LP, download[31]
Souls to Deny
  • Released: 27 April 2004
  • Label: Relapse Records
  • Formats: CD, LP, download[32]
  • Released: 19 September 2006
  • Label: Relapse Records
  • Formats: CD, LP, download[33]
29 29
Blood Oath
  • Released: 3 July 2009
  • Label: Nuclear Blast
  • Formats: CD, LP, download[34]
135 2
Pinnacle of Bedlam
  • Released: 15 February 2013
  • Label: Nuclear Blast
  • Formats: CD, CD+DVD, CS, LP, download[36]
152 2 25 58 197 119
...Of the Dark Light
  • Released: 9 June 2017
  • Label: Nuclear Blast
  • Formats: CD, CD+DVD, CS, LP, download
80 167
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Live albums[edit]

Title Album details Notes
Close of a Chapter: Live in Québec City
  • Released: 2005
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: CD, download[38]
  • re-released by Relapse Records on 27 October 2009[39]

Extended plays[edit]

Title Album details
Human Waste
  • Released: 1 May 1991
  • Label: Relapse Records
  • Formats: CD, CS, LP, download[40]
Despise the Sun
  • Released: 30 April 1998
  • Label: Vulture Records
  • Formats: CD, LP, download[41]

Compilation albums[edit]

Title Album details
The Best of Suffocation
  • Released: 29 January 2008
  • Label: Roadrunner Records
  • Formats: CD, download[42]


Title Album details
  • Released: July 1990
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: CS

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Directed Album
2004 "Surgery of Impalement" Adam Wingard[43] Souls to Deny
2005 "Synthetically Revived" Adam Wingard[44] Human Waste
2006 "Abomination Reborn" Rick Carmona[45] Suffocation
2009 "Cataclysmic Purification" David Brodsky[46] Blood Oath
2013 "As Grace Descends" Tommy Jones[47] Pinnacle of Bedlam


  1. ^ a b DiVita, Joe (15 February 2017). "10 Best Death Metal Bands". Loudwire.
  2. ^ a b c d Stewart-Panko, Kevin (May 2009). "The Memory Remains: The Making of Suffocation's Effigy of the Forgotten". Decibel Magazine.
  3. ^ a b c John Bush, Suffocation, AllMusic.
  4. ^ a b c d e Suffocation history at official Suffocation Myspace.
  5. ^ a b Leslie Mathew, Pierced from Within, AllMusic.
  6. ^ Suffocation: New Audio Interview with Frank Mullen Posted Online – Feb. 7, 2007 Archived 6 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine,
  7. ^ Suffocation Frontman Talks New Album – Mar. 30, 2009[permanent dead link],
  8. ^ Suffocation's 'Blood Oath' Lands on Billboard Chart – July 22, 2009 Archived 25 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine,
  9. ^ Stewart-Panko, Kevin (February 2010). "Suffocation; Close of a Chapter—Live in Québec City". Decibel Magazine.
  10. ^ Scott Alisoglu, The Close of a Chapter: Live in Quebec City Archived 23 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine,
  11. ^ Suffocation: 'Legacy of Violence' DVD Preview Available – Jan. 8, 2010 Archived 6 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine,
  12. ^ Suffocation Announces Mexico/South America Tour with Napalm Death – Oct. 26, 2009 Archived 30 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine,
  13. ^ Suffocation Confirms Split With Drummer Mike Smith, Taps Dave Culross As Permanent Replacement .
  14. ^ Suffocation: New Album Details Revealed – Sep. 20, 2012,
  15. ^ Kennelty, Greg (16 January 2015). "SUFFOCATION Demoing A New Record – Metal Injection". Metal Injection. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  16. ^ "SOULFLY To Tour U.S. With SUFFOCATION, BATTLECROSS". 2 March 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Frank Mullen to Do "One Last Tour" with Suffocation This Year Before Retiring for Good". MetalSucks. 13 March 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  18. ^ a b Eduardo Rivadavia, Effigy of the Forgotten, AllMusic.
  19. ^ a b Lee, Cosmo (September 2009). "Suffocation reclaim their rightful place as kings of death metal". Decibel. One of Suffocation's trademarks, breakdowns, has spawned an entire metal subgenre: deathcore
  20. ^ Eduardo Rivadavia, Breeding the Spawn, AllMusic.
  21. ^ William York, Souls to Deny, AllMusic.
  22. ^ Greg Prato, Suffocation, AllMusic.
  23. ^ Alex Henderson, Blood Oath, AllMusic.
  24. ^ Keith Bergman, Suffocation Suffocation (Relapse)[permanent dead link],
  25. ^ a b c "Suffocation – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  26. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts". Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  27. ^ "Ultratop Belgian Charts". 16 March 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  28. ^ "Ultratop Belgian Charts". Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  29. ^ "iTunes – Music – Effigy of the Forgotten by Suffocation". 7 October 1991. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  30. ^ "iTunes – Music – Breeding the Spawn by Suffocation". 24 May 1993. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  31. ^ "iTunes – Music – Pierced from Within by Suffocation". 22 May 1995. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  32. ^ "iTunes – Music – Souls to Deny by Suffocation". 27 April 2004. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  33. ^ "iTunes – Music – Suffocation by Suffocation". 19 September 2006. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  34. ^ "iTunes – Music – Blood Oath (Exclusive Bonus Version) by Suffocation". 14 July 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  35. ^ "Metal By Numbers 8/12: The Chart Gets (ass)Jacked". 12 August 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  36. ^ "iTunes – Music – Pinnacle of Bedlam by Suffocation". 19 February 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  37. ^ "Metal By Numbers 5/1: Rob Zombie Rats Out the Charts". 1 May 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  38. ^ "iTunes – Music – The Close of a Chapter: Live by Suffocation". 27 October 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  39. ^ "Suffocation Announces Mexico/South America Tour With Napalm Death". 26 October 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  40. ^ "iTunes – Music – Human Waste (Reissue) by Suffocation". 1 May 1991. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  41. ^ "iTunes – Music – Despise The Sun – EP by Suffocation". 30 April 2002. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  42. ^ "iTunes – Music – The Best of Suffocation by Suffocation". 8 January 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  43. ^ "Suffocation | Surgery of Impalement | Music Video". Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  44. ^ "Suffocation | Synthetically Revived | Music Video". Retrieved 14 April 2016.
  45. ^ "Suffocation: 'Abomination Reborn' Video Posted Online". 27 November 2006. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  46. ^ "Suffocation: 'Cataclysmic Purification' Video Released". 13 November 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  47. ^ "Suffocation: 'As Grace Descends' Video Released". 22 February 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2015.


A.^ Since the release of Pinnacle of Bedlam in 2013 until his retirement from the band in 2018, Frank Mullen announced that he would be retiring from full-time touring with the band due to his new job. He has since been replaced by various live vocal stand-ins, including Bill Robinson, John Gallagher, Ricky Myers, and Kevin Muller.[1]

External links[edit]

Media related to Suffocation (band) at Wikimedia Commons