Home Gigs Gig Review : “Suffocation, London Islington Academy” 

Gig Review : “Suffocation, London Islington Academy” 

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Review by Sheri Bicheno for MPM

Back to the time when death metal was a modern notion, New York legends Suffocation are pioneers of the genre since their inception in 1988. 

A few years of hiatus stood between that time but boy did they come back with a bang!

With their mixes of elements of Death Metal, Hardcore and Technical Metal over the years, these guys are also one of the most diverse death metal bands that have spanned since that notion has lived through twists of subgenres through to today.

With the recent release of their 9th studio album Hymns from the Apocrypha in November 2023, a tour spanning 31 non stop days followed, taking with them Organectomy, Enterprise Earth and Sanguisugabogg, the London leg was just days ago!

Unfortunately train strikes/delays meant that I missed most of Organectomy however, when I got to the Islington O2 Academy, the crowd was already going mental and the guys hailing from New Zealand had swarms of bodies flying all over the place to their stunning breakneck atmosphere.

Nail Below Nail was in full swing and stomped a combination of sickening blastbeats and groove infused riffs through the crowd.

Matt Bolch and Sam McRobert fuse their riffs to deliver tech drenched and completely brutal tones that actually remind me a lot of the way our UK lads Ingested bulldoze through their audience. Organectomy have phenomenal skill here that balance out with vocalist Alex Paul’s churning gutturals. 

“Let’s see some muscle, people!” 

Alex certainly knows how to hype the crowd up. The stage drenches in red and here comes some pure FILTHY riffs of Severed from Humanity  thundering in with low and threatening basstones from Tyler Jordan. The drums are groove fuelled and command the pace and sheer brutality of the track. Levi Sheehan is the master behind the kit of Organectomy – and seamlessly ebbs and flows in and out of tempo changing blastbeats and double kicks. The energy here is insane with elements of Slam and death metal bludgeoning the audience. The bodysurfers have started and Alex after delivering a rainfall of absolutely facemelting vocals, reveals its his 30th birthday today!

Up next, I’ve seen Washington deathcore outfit Enterprise Earth once before in Birmingham and seeing them a second time round is a stark reconfirmation of how utterly killer these guys are.

Straight off the bat, the whole room (which has filled to the brim by this point) has created a huge mosh pit and the place is positively BOUNCING.

Fresh from releasing Death: An Anthology this month, we’re launched into newest single in its live setting Casket of Rust… a jawdropping deathcore twist of tech and groove notes. The suspense builds up from the beautiful and eerie strings of Gabe Mangold that spin into a riff fuelled harmony introducing the epic heights of this track. 

Brandon Zackey wields the kit with impressive speed and direction. About halfway through the track is a stunning beatdown that nestles in between some stop starting of blastbeats – and doesn’t come through predictable. He guides the pace of the song with coreshaking skill.

Travis Worland is without doubt one of the best modern deathcore vocalists of today’s underground music. His range flits between shrieks and wails in some suspense fuelled moments of the track but its his stunning gutturals that kick the ground from underneath you when you’re not expecting it. 

I love that his style isn’t confined and he uses different techniques to deliver the vocal brutality of Enterprise Earth. 

There are moments where his voice takes on a cleaner tone but this is fleeting and fits in so nicely against the contrast of his other techniques.

Enterprise Earth showcase in this track how diverse they can be within this genre… they have a moment where Dakota Johnson’s bass takes centrefold and offers up a jazzy tech infused passage into the track which on paper, is BONKERS. But it WORKS. 

Reanimate//Disintegrate is one of the most gorgeously tech / djent infused offerings of tonight’s Enterprise Earth set. This is carnage right here in the room. The pit is absolutely crazy, there’s a lady stood next to me in a cow onesie and I can see her jumping all over the venue amongst the silhouette of bodysurfers making their way down to the barriers. 

The dimensions here are stunning and where there’s complete brutality in the output, the energy amongst the band is a fusion of a tight production and stunning musicianship. 

Before the stage lights up for Ohio gorish death metallers Sansguisugabogg, chants of “BOGG! BOGG! BOGG!” from the room reverberate onto the stage. It’s that warm fuzzy feeling you get from seeing genuine excitement from music fans about to watch a band they’re about to get submerged into.

Face Ripped Off serves as a beginner of the set and from the start is fuelled by chugging bass notes and double kicks that fuse together to create the slabs of sludgy industrial death metal elements that these guys are known for.

In a live setting, there’s some likeness to early Cannibal Corpse in places instrumentally. The drums are totally raw and here, Cody Davidson serves up some tech and groove spiralled blastbeats but keeps the overall feel outside the realms of a polished tech sound, more of an old school feel to the drums which gives the band depth to emit their style.

Devin Swank’s gruff gutturals swing in time with the chunky guitar and bass riffs and bludgeons straight through you. The place is positively shaking at the moment.

…which the same can be said for Pissed. This track is one pure heavy bat to the face. It is chaos down the front with the bodysurfers all over the place – absolute carnage at the feet of the band. Cedrick Davis and Drew Arnold work exceptionally well together here on the strings. The huge curling riffs and chuggy, heavy bassnotes take the track to depths that are face melting. Probably one of the heaviest tracks of the evening, it’s got all the huge elements in it that you’d want from a killer death metal track.

The blastbeats are at breakneck speed and the velocity of sound is so low, you’ll feel you’re dragged along granite.

Devin brings out birthday boy Alex and they join on dual vocals for Dead As Shit.

The putrid gutturals and down-tuned thundering swampy riffs are stunning in its live setting and has the place turning into an underworld of filthy beats and bodies flying everywhere.

Killer set.

With the stage drenched in red, Suffocation come out to the stage with pure energy and full of killer atmosphere.

Pierced from Within see’s their riffmaster Terrance Hobbs weave his bullet speed bar riffs in and out of this track to give Eric Morotti some pace setting, bone crunching double kicks and blast beats. The continuation of tempo changes and twists through this track keep the heaviness at bludheoning optimum levels.

There’s a pause. 

“London… f*cking SCREAM” 

And right there vocalist Ricky Myers shows why he was the right person to step up to fill the shoes in Suffocation.

His vocals are diverse yet ALWAYS at the absolute peak of brutal heights. From growls to hellish gutturals, his range matches the depth of energy that comes from the riffs and drums and completely blew me away.

Terrance churns out shred induced riffs with Charlie Errigo at the other helm driving the under riffs and rhythms to the guitars to enhance the sound into a louder, harder and polished plethora of breakdowns and headbanging momentum.

Perpetual Deception” kicks off with speed bullet drumming by Morotti, with the same tempo changing and chugging bass from Derek Boyer – who – it should be noted, is absolute king on bass. His stances, intricate techniques and playing that bass soooo low on the floor completely takes the performance to another level.

A slow, chugging and slamming riff into blast and gutturals halfway through, is a sight to behold and commands an energy from the room that is absolutely feral.

Infecting The Crypts takes us back to some nostalgic moments of Suffocation – this is a raw and back to time offering that hasn’t lost its touch. This gives a good look into the earlier stages of Suffocation and how they have juiced their sound to sheer high levels with technical progression and raw brutality. 

Clarity Through Deprivation serves as a frenzied curtain call and drags us through the nitty gritty of Suffocation… the technical and stunning guitars and insanely quick, striking bassnotes all come together to bring the skills of Morotti to the forefront with his lead of double kicks and dimension changing blast beats. The shreds in this track lead us off into an almost melodic tone of Suffocation but not too much to lose the heaviness that this track brings down upon the crowd. 

Ricky is a killer frontman with his humble banter and welcoming attitude, his vocals have the ability to completely upheave the room and bring everything together to ensure maximum effect. His gutturals are completely second to none and tonight, he’s happy to share the stage with various members of the previous bands to wish Alex a happy birthday.

Tonight has proven that death metal is still very much alive and well… and the line up that Suffocation took with them couldn’t have been better.

Photography by Artur Tarczewski  

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