Written by Kep
Suppression – The Sorrow of Soul Through Flesh
Death metal from Chile
Releasing April 25 via Unspeakable Axe Records
From Unspeakable Axe Records, the label that brought us last year’s most unexpected killer death metal release—Malformity’s Monumental Ruin—comes another gem. Chilean four-piece Suppression has a similar career trajectory, too; they formed and recorded a demo a decade ago, back in 2012, and then the band took a bit of a backseat to its members’ other projects for several years. Things started to come together again with 2019’s Repugnant Remains EP and a 2020 demo and now have finally coalesced, after a couple of member swaps, in The Sorrow of Soul Through Flesh.
Long story short, you might not have heard Repugnant Remains or the demos. But you damn well better make sure that you listen to The Sorrow of Soul Through Flesh, because it’s fucking excellent. Suppression has a sound to kill for, a glorious blend of old school death metal brutality with technical precision and lurching Finndeath chunk that’s deliciously capped by fretless bass. They’ve got the songwriting chops to back it up, too.
So let’s get this out of the way off the top: the individual technical performances here are all impressive as hell. Daniel Poblete is a force on guitar, delivering punishing riff after punishing riff with thick, gritty tone and a keen ear for when to hand the reins to the bass. His solos are worth drooling over, too, a remarkable mix of techniques that keeps you on the edge of your seat listening every time he peels off above the band. The aforementioned fretless bass, in the talented hands of Pablo Cortes, is a delight and makes Suppression’s music feel special in the death metal scene. That slinky, muscular tone, sometimes providing support and others rising to the forefront to deliver bruising grooves or tightly writhing solos, really boosts the already-quality songwriting. Drummer Christopher Zapata and vocalist Alejandro Cruz measure up just fine, too, the former supplying plenty of technical versatility in his thumping rhythms and the latter fronting the texture with a classic hoarse death roar.
The Sorrow of Soul Through Flesh’s 10-song, 39-minute runtime is an ideal one, and provides plenty of opportunity for Suppression to showcase what they do best, which is wallop the listener with beefy riffs and songwriting wizardry that never gets boring because of their all-in approach. Make no mistake, this is straight-ahead death metal, but it’s like a death metal chameleon, using shades of all sorts of influences as a skin around its OSDM frame. There are passages of brawny bass-led twisting that bring Beyond Creation to mind, twitchy moments of tech-influenced lines that play with meters, angular chunk riffs that churn and pound a la Gorephilia, expansive instrumental moments that take their lead from tracks like Death’s “Cosmic Sea”, and a smattering of death/thrash grooves peppered around that kick up the energy from time to time.
There’s a lot to love in here, but I think my favorite is simply the shape of Suppression’s riffs. Any band can pummel incessantly, but the riffwriting in The Sorrow takes OSDM onto a roller coaster of fretboard-crawling movements. “Monochromatic Chambers” is one of my favorite tracks on the record: it’s straight-ahead pummeling at first, but then the guitars start to wind around in little ear-catching patterns that rise and fall. Later there’s a sequence of angular upward movements that jut out and lead to what might be the coolest riff on the album at 1:55, a stalking monster that refuses to sit still, introduced in the guitar and then joined by the bass in unison. That song also boasts one of the more interesting solos on the album, one that sails and wails above the rhythm section before jamming on the churning riff below.
And that’s far from the only track that stands out! There are moments in every song that made sure I’d be coming back for more listens. I gaped at the almost philosophical feel of the solo in opener “Lifelessness” and the grin-inducing way the back half of “Overfeeding Gaps” plays with the rhythmic emphasis of its riff. The pitching heaviness that starts “Unperpetual Misery” had me ready to jump in the pit, while its pensively quiet ending and the following slow build of instrumental track “Unwinding Harmonies” was a perfectly-placed rest. Zapata’s adaptable brilliance behind the kit is on full display in ripper “Lost Eyes”, the main riff of “Self-Eaten Alive” features a sweet one-bar-more-than-you-expect moment that had me restarting the song to hear it again, and closer “Extortion Behaviors” closes things right with a tornado of aggression and the bass slipping and sliding like a snake beneath. In fact, as far as I’m concerned instrumental interlude “Arrowheads”, performed on acoustic guitar and featuring some impressive classical technique, is the only weak moment on the album, and only because it feels unnecessary.
A quick word on the production: it rules and I wouldn’t change a damn thing. The mixing and mastering was handled by master-of-all-trades Colin Marston, and it’s exemplary of what modern death metal production should sound like. It’s thick and grimy but there’s remarkable clarity, and the way the fretless bass glides underneath and the guitar solos rise smoothly out of the muck is impeccable. A-fucking-plus.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Sorrow of Soul Through Flesh is a can’t-miss album for fans of death metal. The superb songwriting, with its memorable riffs and chameleon-like ability to incorporate influences without ever losing its OSDM base, is taken to even greater heights by talented musicians and fantastic production. Suppression has arrived, and this debut LP shows they’re absolutely worth taking note of. Expect to be hitting the repeat button early and often when this drops on April 25.