Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Suffocation- Blood Oath

I sold my copy of the last Suffocation album (s/t), not because it was horrible, but because the "vibe" was really awful. I'll cite some lyrics:

Stop talking to me...
My father once told me to shut up, shut up

Do I know you?...
Where do I belong?
Shut up, shut up you...

Whereas the better style of death metal lyrics is represented by these *other* Suffocation lyrics:

The structure collapses, spewing forth mutation.
Plague bathes the earth from infected skies.
Chaotic saturation into the pores of existence.
Breeding the spawn.
Effigy awake in its mummified region.

If I can be clever about this: what makes death metal lyrics tolerable is their abstractness, lacking the I & You of rock music--because all of this is being shouted at full volume. When someone is yelling "Shut up!" or "I want to kill you!", the effect is lost, and I am snapped back into the reality that "these are sounds I would avoid having shouted at me in real life."

Since Suffocation's singer has begun to enunciate better, the decline of their lyrics into unpleasant personal rage has become distracting to the listener (i.e. one does not have to consult the lyrics sheet); I also feel that this decline is typical of the not-being-with-it that afflicts older bands.

One assertion of this blog as a whole is that one can tell whether music is good or bad--there isn't some special degree required. You put on old Suffocation--it's amazing. You put on the new Suffocation--but instead of trying to hold it up to their old sound, to look for errors, to make sure that it is "consistent,"--ask, "Is it amazing?"

And the answer is obviously that it's not. Enjoying music shouldn't have to be work.

Given the template established by previous albums, and one's "training" in the art of listening to Suffocation, one obviously will have the appearance of satisfaction... and perhaps for those experiencing the band/style for the first time, this will be a revelation. But the first few times I put this on, I was staring my eyes out of my head asking whether it was good or not. And that just shouldn't be a question; it never was a question with their devastating earlier work.

On this album, Suffocation have bounced back from the woeful uncoolness of their last record, but at best they have achieved a confusion between what *appears* to be a proficient and rewarding album, and the actual *rewards* (neat parts!) of such a record. Only for those with no need of paying attention to metal, who will be satisfied with the trappings. Paradoxically here, paying attention means: knowing what pleasure (hardly the most "attentive" state) is, apart from the "up-close" of the coherent and professional texture one is presented with.

Score: 3 stars/5 (***)
Best songs: "Images of Purgatory," "Dismal Dream"

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