Home > Music > Suffocation – Pierced From Within (1995)

Suffocation – Pierced From Within (1995)

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Because of their style (which isn’t exactly known for dynamic range, but more for monophonic thudding), Suffocation runs the risk of being dry and grating, like a poorly written technical manual. Luckily for us, they aren’t, as Pierced From Within is a pretty good primer on how to make the rhythm heavy sort of death metal they actually pioneered. Morbid Angel this ain’t – Suffocation employs little of the fluid, guitar-rhythm flavored style my choice of comparison offers you, and probably “thinks” closer to a band like Immolation, at least from a songwriting perspective. Back when this band started releasing content in the 1990s, their approach inspired a lot of bands to downtune further, growl deeper, and so forth. Pierced From Within, being their 3rd album, represents a couple years of refinement (as well as a move away from some of the overt technicality of its predecessor).

Death metal by definition is fairly percussive, but Suffocation relies even more heavily on differentiating rhythm, tempo, and implied texture as a songwriting technique. Melody and polyphony are de-emphasized substantially, although they occasionally get to play significant roles, like in “Thrones of Blood”. There’s a ton of guitar/drumwork interplay, too – each guitar riff has its own unique drum riff as accompaniment. While the time signatures here never get particularly complex, Pierced From Within keeps much of its variety within its rhythm. Because of this (as well as coherent, well written lyrics about the usual death metal subjects), we’ve got a very expressive, nuanced album on our hands, at least by the standards of death metal. Suffocation relies heavily on dense compositions here; while song lengths aren’t particularly long, the amount of unique riffs per minute stays consistently high. In my book, that’s always a good thing, and it’s especially important when you’re performing in Suffocation’s specific substyle. Nothing here is as out there as, for instance, the works of Timeghoul, but Suffocation does at least enjoy a mastery and production advantage due to their greater commercial success. Pierced From Within retains the intensity of the band’s debut (Effigy of the Forgotten) while simultaneously sounding clearer; it is therefore more intelligible. Perhaps it’s overly obvious to say this, but given the depth of the content on display, a coherent production comes in handy.

This was a relatively early discovery for me within the realms of metal – in fact, I believe I first came upon it before I started this blog! Unlike much of what I was listening to back in those days, however, I reliably return to this album for its compositional prowess. It is the sort of album I would recommend to any death metal neophyte, albeit with the caveat that since it specializes in the percussive aspects of the genre, merely listening to it will not provide a full perspective.

Highlights: “Thrones of Blood”, “Suspended in Tribulation”, “Synthetically Revived”

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