Suffocation - Blood Oath
Nuclear Blast
Brutal Death Metal
10 songs (41:08)
Release year: 2009
Suffocation, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

As the denizens of Extreme Metal get older, so does the genre; it’s hard to believe that the scruffy young people looking out at you from the back of your copy of Breeding The Spawn are now nearly forty years old! Yet taking Suffocation as an example, the band have never dropped the ball when it comes to their brutal art, making a line of kickass albums and providing a career-best with 2006’s Suffocation, showing all the clones exactly how you make killer Death Metal. It’s a pity that the band haven’t received their due rewards and indeed made a killing from Death Metal, despite the fact that every single Deathcore band on earth rips them off shamelessly, quite apart from the excellence of their sound, the surprising catchiness of the likes of Abomination Reborn – seriously, if you want an example of Brutal Death perfection then go and listen to that song on the band’s MySpace or YouTube or wherever, even if you clicked on this review by accident whilst looking for the new Fairyland album. It has it all; brutality, stellar technical musicianship, a killer solo... So forgive me if my expectations for Suffocation’s sixth full-length are high.

To be honest, Suffocation circa 2009 are pretty much the same as the last time you checked, the changes and progression being minor. All the hallmarks of their sound are there – Frank ‘I’m going to beat the shit out of ya’ Mullen’s growls, the guitar wizardry of Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais, Guy Boyer’s serpentine just-audible bass, and of course, Mike Smith’s octopus-like battery, one of the most underrated Death Metal drummers around. I’m not going to do the stereotypical Suffocation review, which this site thankfully has managed to avoid in the past; making a big deal out of Hobbs and Smith being black and patronisingly applauding. It does mark Suffocation out from the sea of whiteness that Death Metal generally is, but it wouldn’t mean a thing if we dwelt in some parallel universe and the band were rubbish, and it doesn’t ultimately mean much here either, in our current existence where Suffocation are thankfully excellent.

By the way, did I mention that Suffocation are excellent? From the opening Morbid Angel-esque barrage of the title track, which develops into an interestingly atmospheric dirge, all the way through to the frantic finale of the rerecorded Marital Decimation, the band are on fire, doing their thing with style and verve. Any fears that they’d sell out on us with a big sound-change after, you know, signing to Nuclear Blast, are absolutely gone, no doubt about it. No-one could listen to the technical perfection of the likes of Dismal Dream and Pray For Forgiveness and do much apart from headbang helplessly – the few criticisms I can offer are that when placed up next to the glorious Suffocation, Blood Oath can sometimes feel like the offcuttings from that album, yet this feeling fades with time. Also, the songs are simply too damn short. What happened to six-minute monsters like Suspended In Tribulation and Immortally Condemned? Most of the tracks here are between three and four minutes long, with a single five-minuter to placate those of us capable of rocking out for more than a couple of minutes. Granted, Provoking The Disturbed is an excellent track, gang shouts and ambient-fuelled breakdown a nice surprise, but in a modern world where you have to try really hard to make your heavy Death Metal stand out from the next band’s, it’d be nice if Suffocation could push the genre a little more.

Some may well find Blood Oath a bit repetitive, which I disagree with, frankly – it’s one flavour of ice cream, fine, but Suffocation do great things with it. Besides, any real experimentation at this stage in the band’s career is going to be highly unwelcome with their fanbase; the reason we love the NYDM legends is because of their consistency, their refusal to bow before the winds of change. Cryptopsy proved that adding a shapely female to the line-up and playing Deathcore is the last thing that anyone wants, and whilst I’m sure that Suffocation were never tempted, they must have watched with quiet amusement as the Canadians wrecked their good name. Well, Blood Oath is a vow taken with the Death Metal gods, and I suspect that Suffocation will be keeping it for the rest of their career. This is a solid album that fans will have no choice but to love.

Killing Songs :
Blood Oath, Pray For Forgiveness, Cataclysmic Purification, Provoking The Disturbed
Goat quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Suffocation that we have reviewed:
Suffocation - ...of the Dark Light reviewed by Goat and quoted 65 / 100
Suffocation - Pinnacle Of Bedlam reviewed by Goat and quoted 81 / 100
Suffocation - Effigy Of The Forgotten reviewed by Kyle and quoted CLASSIC
Suffocation - Suffocation reviewed by Dylan and quoted 82 / 100
Suffocation - Human Waste reviewed by Crims and quoted 92 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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