Hymns from the Apocrypha is the long-awaited ninth album from Suffocation, a highly innovative and influential band from the early days of extreme metal that helped develop what we would later know as slam.
Hymns from the Apocrypha is the first album to feature their regular live fill-in vocalist, Ricky Myers following the retirement of original vocalist Frank Mullen. Frank’s shoes are near impossible to fill but Ricky gives it his all with some of the deepest and inhuman sounds you’re likely to find in the extreme metal landscape. Tracks like ‘Dim Veil of Obscurity’ showcase Ricky’s ability to manipulate his vocals into something absolutely monstrous and his presence is a highlight of the record.
Suffocation is a study in juxtaposition, their ability to mix extremely technical tongue twister riffing with slow chromatic caveman riffing is just as impressive now as it was when they first appeared on the scene. The disgusting sloppy breakdowns flow effortlessly between the wild flailing and that gives it a more general appeal in that there’s something for everyone.
The transition between ‘Dim Light of Obscurity’ to ‘Immortal Execration’ is one of the hardest gut punches I’ve heard outside of deathcore lately. The two tracks flow seamlessly into each other and demonstrate the raw power Suffocation’s newest lineup possesses. Be prepared to make the stank face.
There are a number of moments, particularly in the latter half of the album, that sound vaguely reminiscent of Morbid Angel but with a more slam bent. The slow grinding guitar work working in tandem with the relentless marathon of double bass work on tracks like ‘Delusions of Morality’ give a viciously evil tone and do wonders in adding variety to a genre that regularly struggles with monotony.
Suffocation are legends in extreme metal and they could have happily retired as legends after their first record knowing they’d helped create a dynasty of music that had terrified and excited millions. They’ve opted to create some of the best extreme metal of all time and Hymns from the Apocrypha is sure to be amongst the highlights of their career.
Best wishes to Frank Mullen, forever and always a legend.
Hymns of the Apocrypha is available November 3rd 2023 via Nuclear Blast.