Suffocation: Breeding the spawn
10/01/08 || The Duff
I’ve been listening to “Effigy of the Forgotten” and “Pierced From Within” for years now, but have only just recently blossomed into the fully-fledged Suffocation fan that I am today. I’ve always avoided “Breeding the Spawn” because of all the horror stories attached to it, but in the end my lust for that old-school Suffo sound got the better of me and I decided to hunt down (very easily, I might add, considering I was reading it being no longer in circulation or whatever the fuck – let’s just go with “out of print”). I guess I can see where the commotion on this album’s failures has stemmed from, but at the same time I would argue that this is an essential purchase that has a bit of the best from both of the aforementioned classics while still bringing something very much worthwhile to the table, and would appear to have been just as influential to the death metal scene, if only understandably overlooked by those not wanting to give a shit due to a botched production job.
9. Stellar songwriting. Complexity, tastefulness, an improvement over “Effigy of the Forgotten” in the arrangements, and although the recipe was close to being identical, the band had evolved and integrated fresh ideas into its sound. Masterful stuff that would be taken up to its apex on the subsequent release, but nonetheless remains equally impressive, especially when taking into account the bandmembers’ respective young ages (I think about their earliest twenties by this point). The closing riff has got to be one of the best endings to an album I’ve heard, and for once (yeah, at the very end), Bagin did right by the band by giving it a fade-out. The rest is all sweet, although a little scrappy with shit editing and mastering and production and blablabla. In short, possibly Suffocation’s best material is to be found on “Breeding the Spawn”, as on “Effigy of the Forgotten” things may be too rough around the edges, and on “Pierced From Within” things too streamlined – on “Breeding the Spawn”, the balance between youthful gusto and disciplined finesse has been wrought to fullest effect.
2. A terrible job by Paul Bagin, who apparently professionalized in jazz productions; can’t say he’s worked on any death metal albums since, which is a great thing – on “Breeding the Spawn”, he has managed to sacrifice some of the sub-genre’s finest material to incompetence and a serious lack of know-how. The first time I heard the break-down on “Breeding the Spawn” (the title-track I had originally heard masterfully recorded on “Pierced From Within”) I was without words – powerless doesn’t come close, and I’m certain Terrance Hobbs still wakes up in a cold sweat over such a thing to this day. Apparently, the band wanted to recruit Scott Burns again, but it was signed to Road Runner, and I needn’t say more on the matter. Fucken Road Runner…
The levels even fluctuate, as if the guy were experimenting WITH THE FINAL MIX!! The one positive to have been achieved overall is that Chris Richards’ explorative bass sections shine through, and when the guitars cut out, his skills become revealed as some of death metal’s most impressive and audacious ever flaunted. There is a charm to the production here, but it just takes the listener aback, as well as some time to adjust. Then, of course, there’s always the thought of “But what the fuck could it have been?”, and then we’re back to cursing fucken Road Runner. I sure do hope the Suffoguys (heh… neat) release a good couple of albums after their new, self-titled effort, as they’ve guaranteed a re-recorded “Breeding the Spawn” track on every new album they write – I would die a happy man having heard “Marital Decimation” and “Anomalistic Offerings” the way they were meant to be heard… either that or Carmen Luvana’s vaginal lips firmly wrapped about my noggin; I’ll take one or the other.
9. Doug Cerrito and Terrance Hobbs I think was always the best combination to have for the guitars, as much as Guy Marchais is at present doing wonders for the band. On “Breeding the Spawn”, you get the ferocity of “Effigy of the Forgotten”, but also the more complex riffing and arrangements of “Pierced From Within” but without the frightening degree of confidence that would adorn their 2005 release. I’ve often been quite the detractor of Suffocation solos, and I reckon this to be because of the guy who introduced me to their music not being the biggest fan of the leadwork; to be frank (you can be the rest of the band, hohoho HAHAHA), the phrasing is awesome, it’s just that Doug and Terrance didn’t amend their clueless taste in tone for some time, and it makes some of the solos quite grating. Then again, it could just be down to the production, so all together now, “Fucken Road Runner…”.
5. Of all the performances to be burdened with the responsibility of carrying a shitty production, Frank Mullen’s is the only one where I sit down and think, “Fuck! This is ridiculous. You’re such an atrocious singer. What are you doing in this band where a terrible sound doesn’t take away the degree of virtuosity being displayed? I thought you were cool; the kind of guy who wouldn’t wear a leather jacket and who would brace the cold, despite his fellow-brethren chuckling at his expense; someone who could overcome the adversity brought on by Paul Bag(g)in(s), a hobbit who had clearly traveled too far from the safe haven provided by The Shire to conduct business with a shifty record label. What the fuck, Frank? You have no talent. I can’t believe you were so inspirational to so many. What is this?” So yeah, Frank sounds terrible, considering he’s one of death metal’s elite. Hope that interior monologue written on paper helped clarify my thoughts on his performance here.
8. Chris Richards is a phenomenal bass player, and I think “Breeding the Spawn” may well, due to the unfortunate treble-rich production, reveal some of the most predominant bass-lines I’ve ever heard on a tech death metal album. Of course, Suffocation were also meant to be exceptionally brutal, and well, the bass doesn’t exactly punch through where required. For this reason, I’m going to give it an eight on technical merit alone, but it should have been worth a point more if only mixed at a level where it would have been more ootalbrey.
8. Giving an eight to Mike Smith is painful, but I can’t do much else. The production, the production, the production, but what the fuck? Everyone’s performance suffers, and Mike’s is no different. You can tell the guy is seriously talented, but the drums sound horrendous, and so an eight it is. To green-light a product that leads to Mike Smith getting anything less than a perfect score is an absolute travesty that, when combined with the label-caused rift between Max and Igor Cavalera (they were at the top of their game with “Roots” – why else would harmonious, brotherly love take such a sour turn?) and the signing of the abomination that is Coal Chamber, makes Road Runner the most despicable of labels in my eyes.
6. Well, Frank decided to move away from the “slightly ambiguous, deeply philosophical” lyrical content of “Effigy of the Forgotten” on “Breeding the Spawn”, and focus more on Cannibal Corpse-style filth. There is no other word more fitting for this type of diseased lyrical creativity, an affront to the love of Jesus Christ. Accept the love of Jesus and cast away such impure thoughts of burying your face into the uterus of your ex-wife’s (presumably, as she’s dead) mutilated corpse. Oh, but wait, was that a really awesome riff that just passed you by? Oh, and is Frank Mullen the epitome of vocal greatness? Well then munch away, my good friend, and don’t forget the pubes, vagina and anus on your way down.
8. I think “Pierced From Within” and “Souls to Deny” both have pretty good cover art, “Suffocation” and “Despise the Sun” are both very sparse, and “Effigy of the Forgotten” is plain fucken bizarre, so “Breeding the Spawn” doesn’t really boast much of an accolade in taking first prize in the Suffocation discography. Still cool (no pun intended…), even though I have no clue as to what those contorted igloos should stand for. The twisted ills of a barren society? Probably.
9. I love the Suffocation logo; I had a hoodie with it scrawled across in fluorescent green, and I very stupidly lost my mind and threw it out. On “Breeding the Spawn”, the band kept it in red (I know you don’t need an in-depth description, being the smart cookies that you are – just look at the cover), but blew it up thrice the size and placed it slap bang centre as if it were everybody’s business. This is where it belongs, thank you and goodnight.
6. The guys had grown by two full years since “Effigy of the Forgotten”, and such an amount of time did wonders to their style. The entire band decided to be color coordinated for this one, except black isn’t really a color so… I dunno. Poor old Frank wasn’t awarded a leather jacket for his extremely metal pose, either, making me wonder whether Road Runner had budgetary restraints. He doesn’t seem too bothered. Just a little cold.
Overall and ending rant
8. Possibly Suffocation’s greatest moment, “Breeding the Spawn” has a lot to live up to when considering all the band’s works, but then I do reckon, as much as “Effigy of the Forgotten” may be the definitive album, and “Pierced From Within” the absolute masterpiece, “Breeding the Spawn” contains the best songs of any Suffocation effort, and so deserves a ten on songwriting alone (it won’t get it though, because of the production that sounds and, oddly enough, tastes like ass).
I’ve seen some claim that “Breeding…” comprises the best tracks, and well, I used to put such worship down to wanting to be hardcore to the max, as the production has been horrifically rendered; it’s only in having given this some time due to my worship of “Effigy…” and “Pierced…” that its magic really shone through, despite not being able to make out the guitars on frequent occasions, and I could cherish this just as much as the heavyweights.
Others say that this is a Suffocation album for the fans wanting to complete their collections, which I consider to be absolute bullshit; on the other hand, though, I can see how someone having approached the two aforementioned classics could listen to this and simply give up after two sittings – the production is that abhorrent. Luckily, if you do give this the time it deserves (not in a busy street, as you won’t hear anything), you’ll find the same standard to which Suffocation adhere when writing all of their material, and something just as worthy and influential as “Effigy…” and “Pierced…”; simply curse Road Runner and their management everytime you whack it on.