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Review: Suffocation - Hymns from the Apocrypha
Hymns from the Apocrypha

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2023
Duration: 41:22
Tracks: 9
Genre: Death Metal


Review online: January 9, 2024
Reviewed by: Micah.Ram
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.67/5 (73.33%) (6 Votes)

I'd be lying if I said I didn't get particularly excited upon learning of the new Suffocation album coming out near the end of 2023 a while back. And then I frequently listened to the two tracks they released early as album teasers, marveling at the songwriting and instrumental and vocal prowess. As a longtime fan of the band's work and a proud owner of all their albums, does this album, now that it has released, meet my expectations and level of excitement?

Well... it DID... And then I went and ruined it by going back and listening to the earlier releases again for references when preparing to review this album. You see, the earlier albums, especially the first three if you ask me, are extremely special and untouchable gems of death metal.

So what's missing? A lot of things, honestly. Frank Mullen's been out of the band for a few short years now and this is the first album without him on vocals. Ricky Myers took over on vocals since 2019. He's a fantastic vocalist and sounds awesome on this record, and to some degree his delivery feels familiar and comparable with Mullen's, but he also just sounds different, and in this he also ends up changing the feel a bit more than I would have liked. The guitar work is also very well done, but at times feels like it needs to take more risks, especially in the early middle of the album, minus "Seraphim Enslavement," which I found to be the most fun track on the album with tremendous guitar work and songwriting overall. The back end of the album, however, has some of the most engaging guitar work, including my favorite guitar solo of the album in "Embrace the Suffering," a hyper-speed affair that rises to a very memorable solo finish, one of my favorites in the history of the band in fact. The drumming is solid and familiar to Suffocation fans, although not particularly inventive. In some way, this connects well with the drumming on the debut and maybe even Breeding the Spawn in some way, as the drumming on those was not as dynamic as mid-career albums such as Blood Oath.

Frank Mullen did make an appearance on the album, which had me and likely many other fans of the band very excited. He performs on the album closer, "Ignorant Deprivation," which, interestingly enough, is also the album closer for the 1991 album, Breeding the Spawn. Interesting choice here, ending two albums with the same track. Well, it's a solid track either way and very cool to see what it sounds like with modern sound engineering and a re-recording effort. Frank's voice is noticeably weaker now. It is evident from this recording that Frank's exit was likely the right decision, but it does not change the fact that I and likely many others wish he was still taking charge of the vocal duties just to continue the familiar Suffocation sound alive longer, even with his fading vocal abilities.

So while I can certainly knock Hymns from the Apocrypha, I can also compliment it just as much. That's because what's here is still very solid and enjoyable. If you're new to Suffocation or haven't quite caught onto the flavor of the band, you'll likely enjoy it. However, if you really want to get a true sense of Suffocation's actual flavor, you should go and listen to the first three full-length albums, with 1995's Pierced from Within being my personal favorite. I will likely be listening to this one every now and then, especially given that Suffocation are easily a top-5 death metal band for me personally, but it doesn't quite scratch the itch like the earlier albums did.

See below for more reviews... ↓
More about Suffocation...
Review: Breeding the Spawn (reviewed by Lars Christiansen)
Review: Effigy of the Forgotten (reviewed by Lars Christiansen)
Review: Human Waste (reviewed by Tony Augsburg)
Review: Hymns from the Apocrypha (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Reincremated (reviewed by Tony Augsburg)
Review: Souls To Deny (reviewed by Chaossphere)
Review: Suffocation (reviewed by Sirliftsalot48)
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