SUPPRESSION – The Sorrow of Soul Through Flesh (2022)REVIEW

Santiago, Chile-based quartet Suppression formed in 2012 as an old school death metal band conjured between thrash metal obssessed fellowes including original Ripper bassist Pablo Cortés (Ancient Crypts) and guitarist Daniel Poblete who’d also featured in that same group alongside heavy metal bands Hemisferio and Insight, alongside one of the guitarists from ‘Raising the Corpse‘ and Putrid Yell‘s vocalist rounding out the line-up. They’d put together an appreciably brutal two song demo that same year and more-or-less disappeared as each member whipped out various works within each respective project they’d been aligned with, a supreme bout of collective activity between then and 2018. It was a side-project for all intensive purposes and it wasn’t until Ripper likely had some kind of disagreement on which direction to go next that Suppression was revived. Though you won’t find any entirely direct correlation between the incredible ‘Sensory Stagnation‘ EP from a few years back and this band’s work, the songcraft and technique from the duo of Cortés and Poblete do ultimately pull from a similarly tasteful wellspring of inspiration for this debut full-length ‘The Sorrow of Soul Through Flesh‘.

On this absurdly fine-tuned first set Suppression are meeting the high standards of ‘old school’ technical death metal right out the gates, invoking a time where innovative instrumentation was ascending within just a few small elite sects yet no compromise was to be had between equal forces of violence and progressive metal-level virtuosic instrumentation previously, a force previously limited to late 80’s tech-thrash mutations. They’ve grasped the exact spirit of 1992-level craft by way of groups like Sadus and Atheist, both of whom had chosen to remain violently aggressive versus the more beauteous and contemplative touches found on nearby records from the communion of Death and Cynic around that same time. This means ‘The Sorrow of Soul Through Flesh‘ sits shoulder-to-shoulder with the inventive mastery of Sadus‘ ‘A Vision of Misery‘ in spirit but raises the bar of aggression to a similar level of Monstrosity‘s under-appreciated debut ‘Imperial Doom‘ wherein technique is a major part of their riff-obsessed attack but the brutality of pure death metal is always informing movement. This modus was variously expanded by Italy’s Sadist to some (arguably more progressive-minded) degree on their debut ‘Above the Light‘ but the more spiritually related Chilean legendry of Torturer‘s classic ‘Oppressed by the Force‘ is the best general reference for the greater balance achieved. If you are scholar enough to know exactly what realm of beauteous aggression I am describing you’ve probably already bought this record outright in preview (alongside their impressive ‘Repugnant Remains‘ EP from 2019, see: review) since these standards are rare, that of veritable godheads for underground technical and progressive death (and death/thrash) metal of the late 80’s and early 90’s. But sure, I suppose the question to ask first is whether or not these folks carry it into the future and make it their own.

Invoking the very best of the past is admirable enough and the thrill of the Chilean quartet’s sound and style taken at face value is convincing enough for my own taste, a through and through headshot. Yet it is worth digging around this record for where Suppression stand out in less obviate ways since taking its actual pulse and giving some due attentive listening shows much more than classicism done right. If you’d smartly wheeled through ‘Repugnant Remains‘ and tracked down either of the 2012-written pieces already you’ll immediately note that these folks are much more blast-heavy than the wall of early 90’s comparisons I’d thrown at you earlier would suggest, not necessarily skulling the ear with the furor of Mortem (Peru) but drummer Cris Zapata (The Owner) doesn’t spend the album pulling punches, or uh, kicks and it is only for the sake of the understated and organic grinding of Colin Marston‘s final rendering that it isn’t a wall of murderous brutality throughout. The production values offer a coiling subterraneous representation of a very real headspace being marauded, a tunneling through synapse and impulse towards countless grand bursts of inspiring rhythmic torsion. Understating the clobber of the band and allowing some strong dynamic values at high volume allows for a polished sort of early Anata-meets-Pestilence sort of quality arising from the arrangements themselves as most of ‘The Sorrow of Soul Through Flesh‘ aims for a rotten, malicious sound fans of everything from Demilich to Skeletal Remains will appreciate.

Thrilling as those initial layers of ripping high-speed riffing and brutally punching rhythms are, Suppression are at their best when using their most finesse-fed talents to create a unique and spectacular atmospheric forms which transcend its core savagery in motion. “Lost Eyes” is one of my favorite examples of this in context of the full listen as it presents both extremes at their most harried and violent but “Monochromatic Chambers” (and opener “Lifelessness” for that matter) similarly land these filthiest surges of brilliance with the fretless bass guitar performances capably expanding and contracting the otherwise linear death-thrashed voicing of each piece. In this way we never get to the point of “pretty” death metal but certainly a progressivity of rhythm which should rightfully stun and stoke fans of this style to some great magnitude. With that said Suppression‘s guitarists never quite reach the point of no return into this hideous whorl of technical motion, nothing beyond the auld arcane death metal scope of practice to start and most of the record delivers pure thrashing death otherwise. “Self-Eaten Alive” for example has a sort of ‘Stillborn‘-era Malevolent Creation slap and chug to it that the purist whom doesn’t like prog-tech admonitions can still gleefully be slaughtered by. I’d nonetheless felt there is an somewhat over the top signature festering in these pieces that has incredible potential either by innovation or iteration in the future but for a debut this is already more than bold enough of a statement.

They’ve got riffs, rhythms that land with a freneticism that lends itself to plenty of repeat listens, and a mind-accosting sense of attack which feeds the brain intrigue on a second-by-second basis, enriching at the speed of synaptic junction created. ‘The Sorrow of Soul Through Flesh‘ is an entirely ideal debut statement, focused enough on killing that they’ve cratered my skull but crafted with plenty enough room to expand into and iterate upon in the future. Give me a few more leads, more varied pacing, and (if only in my mind) some measure of perfection will be transgressed. A very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (95/100)

Rating: 9.5 out of 10.
TITLE:The Sorrow of Soul Through Flesh
LABEL(S):Unspeakable Axe Records
RELEASE DATE:April 25th, 2022

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