Classic Tech Death Album: 'Pierced From Within' By Suffocation

Classic Tech Death Album: ‘Pierced From Within’ By Suffocation

WHO: Arguably the single most important band in the development of modern Death Metal, Suffocation have influenced/inspired so many aspects of the genre taken for granted these days; death growling, slams, exploration of the blast beat, speed, intensity, the list goes on and on. Since 1990, Suffocation have simultaneously defined and revolutionized Death Metal with each release. However, many fans are split on the question of their very finest work. There is no such thing as a bad Suffocation album of course but deciding which of their downright mythological accomplishments is the most astounding takes time and lots of reflection. Having taken the time and reflected as much as I possibly could, I decided on ‘Pierced From Within’. Not only is it Suffocation’s finest release but it’s also Death Metal’s finest release. Yes, I wrote exactly what you think I just wrote; ‘Pierced From Within’ is the greatest Death Metal album of all time from the greatest Death Metal band of all time.

WHEN: On May 23rd, 1995, metal music received one of its crowning achievements from Roadrunner Records.

WHERE: Morrisound Recording in Tampa, Florida.

WHY IT’S A CLASSIC: I’m positive the last line of the ‘Who’ section certainly got your attention, which is why I shortened the ‘When’ and ‘Where’ sections so you can jump straight here and I can explain myself in greater detail. First things first, I’m sure there are some readers who are surprised that I consider Suffocation the greatest Death Metal band of all time. Is there really any other choice when you get right down to it? Cryptopsy would have been the closest second place if ‘None So Vile’ wasn’t the end of their dominance. Gorguts has been on hiatus so long I wonder if I’ll ever get to hear a snippet of their rumored latest LP. Demilich could have even beaten both if ‘Nespithe’ wasn’t their only release. Same goes for Lykathea Aflame and ‘Elvenefris’. The most important question to ask when thinking about a ‘greatest band’ or ‘greatest album’ is how much influence has that band/album had on the entire genre, does it stand the test of time and outside of their very best, how many dips in quality does their discography feature? Suffocation’s influence is undeniable to anyone who can rub two brain cells together, ‘Pierced From Within’ kicks the shit out of anything Death Metal released since 1995 (even in close fights) and there really isn’t a significant dip in quality at any point in their history. If your immediate reaction is to bring up ‘Breeding The Spawn’ or their self titled 2006 album I say a pox on your house and ears for parroting nonsense! Any and all reasons you could come up with for Suffocation NOT being the greatest Death Metal band of all time have surely been proven false. If there’s a brutal riff you really love, chances are Suffocation already wrote it. They are, for all intents and purposes, the Black Sabbath of Brutal Death Metal, with one of the best track records for quality any band has ever had.  ‘Pierced From Within’ works on every conceivable level because it functions on every conceivable level. Looking for mind blowing technical prowess? It scarcely manifests itself in the legendarily influential way Terrance Hobbs, Doug Bohn, Chris Richards and Doug Cerrito manifested it here these days. Looking for soul crushing brutality? You’ve found the Mecca. Every track on this album will destroy any previous expectations of anything and everything Death Metal. ‘Pierced From Within’ churns, gnashes and annihilates but it also envelops, astounds, fascinates and dazzles. At no point in all of the times I’ve listened to and replayed ‘Pierced From Within’ have I ever found fault in any of the compositions on display. This is Death Metal’s magnum opus and those who deny Suffocation’s rightful place at the top should check their premises.

HOW: As I briefly mentioned above, ‘Pierced From Within’s greatest success is the unification of every conceivable element a Death Metal fanatic could ever want without sacrificing the power of any last piece. Frank Mullen, who was one of the first to usher in the Death Growl as we know it today turns in one of the absolute best vocal performances Death Metal has ever seen; the juxtaposition of his masterful enunciation and bellowing pitch result in the best death growls short of the complete inhumanity of vocalists like Matti Way and Phlegeton. Terrance Hobbs has always been one of my  favorite guitarists and if you look nowhere else to understand why, look to ‘Pierced From Within’.  Every riff the man writes is genius and only serves to make me weak in the knees. Doug Cerrito and Chris Richards round off the stringed assault with savage secondary guitar and indomitable bass but the real underdog of the album is Doug Bohn on drums, filling in for Mike Smith. He proves himself more than worthy as a substitution, never missing a blast or fill and always staying on top of things.

Really, I could rave about this album forever (which is probably why this took so long to write) but I’ll end my piece with this; in every genre of music, there are always a select few bands/musicians/composers that not only define the genre as a whole but set the standard for said genre for years to come. Baroque Music has Bach, Jazz has Miles Davis and Death Metal has Suffocation. Since 1990, the band has done nothing but consistently amaze, continually innovate and leave even their most dedicated students/devotees in the dust. Here’s to many more years of being at the very top, destroying posers and delivering only the most exquisite gems of brutal, technical excellence.

Fuck yeah. \m/

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2 thoughts on “Classic Tech Death Album: ‘Pierced From Within’ By Suffocation”

  1. “I see the finer points of the album now, and I will probably listen to it again today, but I just can’t agree that its the best death metal album of all time! Or that Suffocation is the best death metal band of all time.”

    That’s fine. One of the unspoken assumptions of citing something as ‘the best (x)’ (and really of reviewing in general) is the way an album/film et. al. strikes the person in question. For me, Suffocation and ‘Pierced From Within’ epitomize everything I love and can never get enough of in Death Metal. Aside from certain undeniable factors I think are crucial to the question of any ‘best’ (influence, consistency and how kind time has been) the ultimate decision is a subjective preference, like all taste. When I say ‘Any and all reasons you could come up with for Suffocation NOT being the greatest Death Metal band of all time have surely been proven false’ I speak from a position of having heard many ludicrous objections to Suffocation’s music as well as never being convinced that they AREN’T the best of the best.

    On the other hand, I’m glad that other people have different opinions. Variety is the spice of life and as enamored with Suffocation as I and most of my metalhead friends here in Seattle are, discussing my love for the band and this album is something I look forward to. It not only allows me to hone my arguments but hear perspectives I might not have otherwise heard.

    “I do agree that their catalog has stayed consistently good, and that their albums never dropped off in quality like some other bands. And they are extremely influential, undoubtedly. But the best death metal band of all time? That’s quite a big claim.”

    Any claim of which band/musician is ‘best’ in a given genre will *always* be a big claim. If instead of Suffocation I said ‘Death is the greatest Death Metal band of all time’ it would still be a massive claim because it cements one band above all other possible ‘bests’. So far on the site there have been two such claims. (‘Pierced From Within’ and ‘None So Vile’ respectively)I’m curious as to whether or not you have a Death Metal album you would place above the rest as a ‘best’ of the genre. I’ve always found other metalhead’s choices fascinating.

    “And, even though Demilich, Gorguts, Cryptopsy, and Lykathea Aflame each don’t have the depth of quality albums of Suffocation, couldn’t their single released beat out ‘Pierced from Within’?”

    They all come close, but for one reason or another ‘Pierced From Within’ still hasn’t been beat for me. Given all of the simply perfect moments on the album (2:18 – 3:01 on the title track, 3:16 – 3:46 on ‘Thrones Of Blood’, 1:15 – 2:25 on ‘Suspended In Tribulation as a few ‘for instances’) I doubt it’ll be beat in the years to come as well.

    “OK, enough negative. The album is really good, and I would think that you would be glad to hear that you sparked the interested of another fellow metalhead into Suffocation.”

    I am. I’m also glad I inspired the rest of your comment as well. The subject of ‘which Death Metal release is the very finest’ is one that can go for hours among many different people.

    “My favorite track from the album is ‘Brood of Hatred’. In fact, I think I am going to turn on Suffocation right NOW.”

    Been blasting it all morning myself. \m/

  2. I have always respected and recognized Suffocation, but never listened to them much. For a long time I have been wanting to get into them, so after reading your review, I decided to listen to “Pierced from Within” again. I see the finer points of the album now, and I will probably listen to it again today, but I just can’t agree that its the best death metal album of all time! Or that Suffocation is the best death metal band of all time. I do agree that their catalog has stayed consistently good, and that their albums never dropped off in quality like some other bands. And they are extremely influential, undoubtedly. But the best death metal band of all time? That’s quite a big claim. And, even though Demilich, Gorguts, Cryptopsy, and Lykathea Aflame each don’t have the depth of quality albums of Suffocation, couldn’t their single released beat out “Pierced from Within?”

    OK, enough negative. The album is really good, and I would think that you would be glad to hear that you sparked the interested of another fellow metalhead into Suffocation. My favorite track from the album is “Brood of Hatred.” In fact, I think I am going to turn on Suffocation right NOW.

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