CD Review: Suffocation – The Close of a Chapter (Live in Quebec)

Suffocation: The Close of a Chapter (Live in Quebec) 2005
Review: Lana Harris

Suffocation   ‘This is … Brutal!’ yells Frank Mullen at the end of The Close of a Chapter’s opening track, “Infecting the Crypts”. This is Suffocation. Birthed from the insomniac New York Underground, Suffocation clawed their way to the top of the death metal pit in the early nineties, with shadows of their unrelenting riffs and Mike Smith’s seminal blast beats cast across lesser black drum kits ever since. Suffocation captures the energy of a single moment of explosion and sticks it on endless repeat. And the lyrics are about killing people. Yeah, it’s brutal. But this isn’t a
dissection of the value of Suffocation’s music. That blood spattered throne has already been carved.

This is about The Close of a Chapter, Suffocation live in Quebec, a 3D experience squashed down into the purely sonic. Recorded in 2005, the set draws heavily from 2004’s Souls to Deny, but also rips the title tracks (and others) from earlier offerings Effigy of the Forgotten, Breeding the Spawn, Pierced from Within, and Despise the Sun. Concert recordings have been improving for a while now (we can thank mobile phone recording technology for putting that fork in record company pants) but are never really going to be able to convey the primal experience of the floor vibrating under your feet while blood drips from your ringing ears. Still, this is a decent shot – blast beats in residence, blistering to a crisp guitar solos, each instrument’s contribution roughly in balance, with vocals growling and snarling on top. The drums are flattened down to all one level, but are still well defined compared to other live CD’s I’ve heard. It captures amusing crowd chat, such as the invitation to make warring circle pits and that guy in the crowd who wants them to Just Shut Up and Play, but it’s kept short so the thrusting pace of the show is maintained, and on the whole, the recording has sucked the intensity right out of the ether, ready to unleash on your at home ear holes. This CD makes me want to be there.

The broad slash across the back catalogue makes The Close of a Chapter a fitting introduction to Suffocation. If you think music can never be too fast or heavy, get this album, get the new album Blood Oath, and then get yourself into the Hi-Fi bar early on November 7th, when Suffocation support Arch Enemy on their Australian tour.

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