Suffocation‘s Hymns From The Apocrypha is their first album since 2017’s …Of Dark Light and first ever without legendary vocalist and founding member Frank Mullen. When Mullen announced that he was going to retire it was going to be with a new person in place; that person was Disgorge’s Ricky Myers.
Hymns From The Apocrypha is the band’s ninth album overall and marks more than just a changing of the guard but with the band having been formed in 1988 this is now their fifth decade of existence too. How will the forefathers of brutal and technical death metal handle the transition?
If the self-titled opener is any indication, with aplomb. The track leaves no doubt that this is still a Suffocation album. Myers made a name for himself with Disgorge and isn’t content resting on his laurels fronting this legendary unit. Even though he isn’t Mullen, his harsh delivery works well within the framework of Terrance Hobbs’ and Charlie Errigo’s fretwork.
Eric Morotti’s crushing drums blast on “Perpetual Deception” and “Immortal Execration” adding technicality and raw power when the guitars need a proper accompaniment or as a break in the action. This is the case on the former track which features a well-placed stop and go section that would be appreciated by fans of the overtly heavy; silence plays a part in the heaviness too.
“Dim Veil of Obscurity” starts with one of Myers’ best growls on the entire album. Soaring solos duel for time, space and brutal time signatures making for a meteoric rise in speed before crashing down to earth for the remainder of the song. “Descendants” features dissonant riffing and cymbal work that help to announce the band’s arrival before launching headlong into a manic guitar and vocally driven attack. It’s a master class in balancing brutality with technical talent. Fat bass riffs allow for a transition between the first and second movement in the song. “Ignorant Deprivation” closes out the album with their longest track since the opener, allowing for the brutality to be bookended and making for an excellent coda to the combat.
Suffocation are legends for the genre they helped to pioneer back in the death metal hotbed of 1991. In 2023 things are very different for the scene and for the band. Hymns From the Apocrypha is the first album in the next era for this band that has seen a fair share of members leave and very few as important as Mullen’s throat shredding, one-of-a-kind vocal style.
With the dawn of the Ricky Myers era of Suffocation, you’d be hard pressed to see a band this experienced and heavy and having so much more left in the tank. This is the Suffocation album we all needed in our lives.
(released November 3, 2023 on Nuclear Blast)
Heavy Music HQ Rating:
Watch Suffocation – “Seraphim Enslavement” Video