Brutal Tunes. A Look at Suffocation’s “Effigy of the Forgotten”

1991 was an epic year of releases for Death Metal. The genre was exploding with talent that aimed to prove critics wrong. It was going to prove that musicianship existed in the music. Death Metal did not all sound the same. It was not all chaotic noise and nonsense. It was raw, aggressive and at times angry.

One of Death Metal’s many endearing qualities for me personally has always been about how heavy the weight of the music sounds to the ears. How heavy it is and how technical it can get depending on the improvisation skills and the directions the musicians take with compositions. New York legends Suffocation are among the many acts who in my view, have consistently delivered quality metal that stands all of the true tests of time. Effigy of the Forgotten remains a standout album thirty years after it’s release. This album is one of many Death Metal artworks recorded at the legendary Morrisound Recording, with Scott Burns at the board.

Suffocation vocalist Frank Mullen and lead guitarist Terrence Hobbs should belong in the top five lists of best musicians in the death metal genre. As a vocalist, Mullen’s voice is recognizable. He’s as effective live as he is in studio. Now retired, Mullen called it a career while still being able to perform as if he was just starting out. An absolute technician in his trade. Speaking of technicians, Hobbs’s guitar work is far above what I would call the standard death metal lead style. He is not someone who just records solos and parts for the purpose of filling in spaces. Rather, Hobbs has a great sense of melodic rhythm. Doug Cerrito on rhythm guitar caps a solid foundational section with bassist Josh Barohn and drummer Mike Smith. Cerrito is one of many guitarists in death metal’s storied history who could be compared to Freddie Green as far as solid approach and consistency.

Effigy featured a then relatively unknown vocalist in George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher. Now the long-running vocalist in Cannibal Corpse, Fisher appears on two of Effigy’s tracks, “Mass Obliteration” and “Reincarnation”.

Three decades after this album found it’s way into mail orders and on to record store shelves, Effigy of the Forgotten takes listeners into a chapter of heavy history that is cast in unbreakable steel.



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