Suffocation: Frank Mullen (vocals); Doug Cerrito, Terrance Hobbs (guitar); Chris Richards (bass); Mike Smith (drums).
With its head-spinning compositional intricacies and city-block-leveling ferocity, Suffocation's first album, Effigy of the Forgotten, provided a veritable blueprint for '90s death metal; so it was pretty much a given that the resulting heightened expectations would pile the ruble left in its wake into a peak much too high for its successor to possibly surmount. Sure enough, 1993's Breeding the Spawn, was widely panned by pundits and fans for a variety of reasons, ranging from its short length to its perceived repetition of the predecessor's overall formula (hardly fair considering the continued complexity of each and every song), and, perhaps most accurately, its inexplicably muddy final mix, which critically lacked the same, bass-heavy qualities as Effigy. No doubt, the last definitely served to dampen the flesh-piercing capacity of otherwise razor sharp onslaughts such as "Beginning of Sorrow," "Anomalistic Offerings" and the title track, while rendering secondary tracks like "Marital Decimation" and "Ornaments of Decrepancy" into so much death metal mush. The band's performance itself certainly didn't lack for intensity, though, with guitarists Doug Cerrito and Terrance Hobbs going about their hyperactive business with as much blazing technique as ever before (even if some of it was lost in the general cacophony), drummer Mike Smith battening the hatches with his distinctive, manual blastbeat playing style, and resident Cookie Monster impersonator, Frank Mullen, raving unintelligibly but convincingly above it all -- as expected. When all is said and done, no one will debate the fact that Breeding the Spawn failed to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by Suffocation's preceding '90s metal boiler plate, but it hardly stinks up their legacy either, and is therefore still recommended to die-hard fans of the group. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia