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Album Reviews : Suffocation – Blood Oath

By on September 8, 2009

Suffocation - Blood OathWhen I first heard the new Suffocation release ‘Blood Oath’ I got the distinct feeling the album resembling a sound and style to that of Morbid Angel‘s classic, ‘Formulas Fatal to the Flesh’.

This isn’t a deliberate attempt by the band but comes off as an influence with a somewhat familiar vocal style to that of Steve Tucker (ex-Morbid Angel, ex-Ceremony) done by Suffocation frontman, Frank Mullen.

Mullen has a tendency to deliver his lyrics more clearly then most death metal vocalists with his trademark vocal style. This style landed him as one of the many influential in the growing death metal scene of the early 90’s.

Frank Mullan’s vocal style makes the listening experience that little bit more enjoyable and understandable as most Suffocation releases are chaotic enough without having the trouble to understand what is being sung.

The album is very straight forward in its approach, yet very chaotic. This isn’t a complete surprise since the album was recorded within a few months of this year and has given the album a very stripped back approach in its delivery.

It offers a more of an “old school” feel to the entirety of the album. Offering the bands traditional brutal double kicks, relentless blast beats, low tuned basslines and mind melting melodic guitar picking and sweeps; and of course the brutal vocal stylizing of Frank Mullan, respectively. In doing so,  its made the album more enjoyable for me as I’m an avid fan of old school death metal.

To be honest I haven’t seen this done in awhile and its a breath of fresh air. Most other death metal bands tend to release albums with an abundance of vocal effects and instrumental trickery which drown out the entire experience of the album which leave nothing more then a bitter after taste in your mouth and you questioning why you spent your hard earned cash on a complete piece of pro-tools garbage.

The opening track ‘Blood Oath’ punches things into gear with a nice melodic overture of guitars and adds a nice plethora of drumming brutally with long time accompaniment and drummer of Suffocation, Mike Smith. Mike Smith is just phenomenal on the kit.

Not surprising as he, along with Suffocation are considered the fundamental founders of brutal death metal in America (…but I’m sure many would question that remark). Some metal fans may even question the somewhat repetitiveness of Mike Smith‘s drumming throughout the album as Mike tends to use more of a hard hitting approach rather relying on dynamics or sophistication. These dynamic traits are still present on the album but tend to weigh more towards brute force rather than technicality.

Guitarist Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais add a nice variation of riffing. Piling on multiple layers of hard hitting riffs, with amazing variations of sweeps and guitar dueling.

The tracks ‘Images Of Purgatory’, ‘Cataclysmic Purification’ and ‘Undeserving’ are a prime example of this commonly used trait throughout Suffocation‘s material. The track ‘Undeserving’ is one of my favorites on the album at the moment which combined both slow and fast variations in its attack while Terrance Hobbs adds a nice melodic touch to the song,  along with the entire album with his trademark atmospheric solos.

Its hard to come across any major flaws on the album. Many may question the albums simple production value but I personally find it adds a touch of character and class to entire delivery of the album. Its a worth while purchase for any avid fan of old school or straight forward brutal death metal in an American vain.

The album carries an abundance of influences. Not only with the likes of Morbid Angel but it also carries deep influences from Cannibal Corpse and Death. Giving the album a good variation of technicality and melodic brutality.

This album is just fantastic from start to finish. It’s hard to come by a decent death metal album these days especially one which you can enjoy from start to finish and continue to do so for many times after the first listen. 8.5/10

Band: Suffocation
Album: Blood Oath
Year: 2009
Genre: Death Metal
Origin: New York, USA
Label: Nuclear Blast
Australian Distribution: Riot! Entertainment – Click here to purchase


1. Blood Oath
2. Dismal Dream
3. Pray for Forgiveness
4. Images of Purgatory
5. Cataclysmic Purification
6. Mental Hemorrhage
7. Come Hell or High Priest
8. Undeserving <- Reviewer’s Choice
9. Provoking the Disturbed
10. Marital Decimation


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.