Hymns From The Apocrypha
Review by Michael on November 18, 2023.
I never was too much into brutal death metal but Suffocation found a very special place in my heart since their debut Effigy Of The Forgotten. So I followed their way throughout all the years and never got too disappointed with their albums. After Frank Mullen left the band in 2018 I was pretty scared that this would be the end of Suffocation but with Ricky Myers the guys not only found a worthy replacement but also somebody who isn't totally unknown in the death metal underground.
So now it is time for Myers debut in Suffocation and he really does such a great vocal performance on Hymns From The Apocrypha that doesn't let miss Frank Mullen. He sounds almost like him and the aggressiveness and energy in his vocal lines is quite similar to him. So he meshes really perfectly into the band. Apart from this most interesting question about the vocals, not too much new and innovative happened on their 9th full-length album. The focus lies on a very technical aspect and sometimes they sound a little bit more playful than on the previous albums ('Seraphim Enslavement' is a very good example of it with some really blasting solo and some thrilling melodies in the song). The guitars sound really crunchy and the drums are blasting as hell. Another really catchy and pretty outstanding song because of its high technicality and groovyness is 'Delusions Of Mortality'. First it grinds you down with some fat heavy blasts, then like a roller, it slowly rolls backwards to steamroll the listener and finally with a thunderous attack the song increases speed again.
Where on the previous releases sometimes some more chaotic elements were to be found I have the feeling that the guys started to work a little bit more structured and tried to incorporate some “lighter” elements into the songs just like they started to do on Pinnacle Of Bedlam and …Of Dark Light in some parts already. The guitar work is much more comprehensible and they don't try to appear as brutal as possible during the whole album. Although the term “progressive” is pretty much exaggerated if you think about progressive metal like Dream Theater and such. Nevertheless they catch my attention with some really elaborated melodies and some surprising catchy parts in their songs. 'Dim Veil Of Obscurity' shows these two levels of their songwriting. First of all it is really brutal death metal that totally hits you in your face but if you leave this point of view, you find a lot of more accessible riffs and hooks that want to get explored. And with the title track they finally got a song which might be a worthy follow-up to my all-time fave by Suffocation, namely the first song from their debut album Effigy Of The Forgotten called 'Liege Of Inveracity'. This track completely blew me away back then because of the unbelievable tempo changes and breaks and so does 'Hymns From The Apocrypha'. This song is a little bit like a battered boxer. Sometimes it creeps slowly but steady and then all of a sudden it strikes back with full force and knocks you out.
Coming back to the vocal performance by Myers, if you listen to the re-recording of 'Ignorant Deprivation' where Frank Mullen has a guest appearance I would say it was the best decision to engage him and not to stay with Mullen because his vocals sound very weak in comparison. For me Hymns From The Apocrypha is the best Suffocation album in many many years and I am looking forward to seeing these guys in January on tour.
Rating: 9 out of 10 Hymns356