Pinnacle of Bedlam

Definition of PINNACLE  ;  the highest point of development or achievement

Definition of BEDLAM; A place or situation of noisy uproar and confusion.

So, basically the highest achievement in a noisy uproar and confusion?

Yup, Id say that about covers it.

Four albums into their comeback from a 6 year hiatus and some pretty legendary first few albums, New Yawk’s finest are back again, and like fellow long running legends Dying Fetus, their most recent effort might be one of their best, harkening back to their glory years.

It’s ironic that outside of Effigy of the Forgotten, Pierced from Within and the Despise the Sun EP are widely regarded as Suffocation’s best releases, as founder and drummer Mike Smith is on neither of those releases. The irony is that he is not  the drummer on Pinnacle of Bedlam either, as it sees Dave Culross (Despise the Sun) returns to the fray and sees the band firing on all cylinders yet again.  A very strange turn of events, but one that sees Suffocation deliver their best album since Pierced from Within so take the Mike Smith presence or lack there of as you will.

The rest of the line up is intact with Hobbs, Marchais, Boyer and Mullen all doing what they do best, noticeably Mullen, who seems a bit energized after a couple of slightly bored performances on the bands comeback trail. The result is an album that feels like Pierced from Within, much like Dying Fetus‘s Reign Supreme felt like their classic opus, Destroy the Opposition.

The production is back to the clean heft of the albums before Blood Oath‘s slightly murkier approach, and the song writing is classic Suffocation, with even a couple of new twists. It gets going right away with opener “Cycles of Suffering”, exploding from the speakers with no warning and features some of the most classic, utterly punishing  Suffocation grooves of the last 10 years. “Purgatorial Punishment” reigns things in a bit with twist lurch and blast before “Eminent Wrath”  and “As Grace Descends” unleash a sheer cacophony of classic  squealing, pummeling Suffocation, that will have fans salivating.

But the start of “Sullen Days” is where some fans might cry foul. Are you ready for this? An acoustic intro starts the track and closes it out . In between is a arguably the slowest track Suffocation have ever penned, but it sounds right and in place especially with the bursts of speed and savagery intertwined. Old Dog ? New tricks? my ass, Suffocation is able to finally add just a little wrinkle to their seminal sound and it works. The title track bitch slaps you back to your senses with a killer opening riff that might be one of the bands most dominantly memorable and definable  tracks since the 90s. “My Demise” is another standout, with the albums other great breakdown, for lack of a better word, before “Inversion”  and “Rapture of Revocation”. Both deliver  familiar blasts and lopes but there is an energy an vitality here that the band hasn’t had in a long time, guitarist Terrance Hobbs, like Mullen is writing and playing his ass  off like its his last hurrah (more on that in a bit).

Pinnacle of Bedlam ends as suddenly as it starts with closer “Beginning of Sorrow”, and as good as the album is, I can’t shake the feeling that this is Suffocation‘s swansong- the album itself, along with Mullen recent decision to no longer tour with the band, the acrimonious split with Smith,  everything just sounds (“Sullen Days”) and feels like a career ending end note that the band can ride off into the sunset with. I hope that’s not the case as the band seem to have had a second coming of sorts, but I think the band might be content to drop this on the legions of deathcore bands and say “this is how its meant to be done fuckers’ and then print a killer T-shirt that says ‘THE THRONE IS OURS BITCHES” on the back. Yeah, I’d buy that.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
February 11th, 2013


  1. Commented by: xiweinx

    I’m a long time Suffocation fan. I’ve witnessed great gigs from this band. But it seems now would be a great time to stop, at the pinnacle of their abilities.
    In my opinion, if they stop now, they would really be saying ‘The throne is ours, bitches’.

    Great review, by the way.

  2. Commented by: dspang

    The acoustic intro to Sullen Days is a nice addition. Torn Into Enthrallment on Pierced From Within started with an intro like that also.

  3. Commented by: Deepsend Records

    Best release since Despise the Sun. Best album since Pierced.

  4. Commented by: Luke_22

    Such a phenomenal album. I was hope for something special from Suffocation but was starting to think they were running low on fresh ideas after Blood Oath. I agree, best album since Pierced.

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