"June 7, 2009"

Suffocation - June 7, 2009

Fillmore at the TLA, Philadelphia, PA
June 7, 2009

It’s not called the Summer Slaughter Tour for nothing. The ten band indoor fest is meant to annihilate the audience with some of the most extreme metal around. No band on the bill is as influential, or as brutal, as the mighty Suffocation. After a full day packed with tech-death, slam, and deathcore acts, the kings of unfiltered New York death metal stepped up to the plate to show the kiddies how to swing.

As soon as Suffocation blasted into their first song, it was immediately apparent that these guys knew their way around the block. Guitarists Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais proved they’re true pros, trading off filthy chugging and ripping solos; they ruled the stage without having to resort to the goofball posturing and cringe-inducing theatrics on display by many of the new jack bands on the bill. Drummer Mike Smith was precise and savage, firing off salvo after salvo of his patented Suffo blasts. But the star, unquestionably, was singer Frank Mullen. The slightly batshit vocalist has everything you can possibly want in a frontman; endless energy, commanding presence, and the most genuinely entertaining between-song banter you’re likely to hear. Oh, and his growls sound just as vicious live as they do on record.

The entire setlist was filled with songs from the soon-to-be-released “Blood Oath” and death metal touchstone “Effigy of the Forgotten,” the lone exception coming in the form of “Catatonia,” from the “Human Waste” EP. The highlight of the night was the band’s performance of “Infecting the Crypts,” whereupon General Mullen ordered a massive circle pit, to which troops happily obliged. This prompted the following from Mullen: “That was awesome guys, it’s stuff like that sends shivers down your spine. Like right before you cut someone open.” I could almost believe he’s serious, too.

It says a lot that a band can truly stand out amid almost nine hours of blast beats, death growls, and face-flaying guitar. But that’s exactly what Suffocation did. By the time they started playing, most of the attendees had been beaten, bruised and, yes, slaughtered. Suffocation, though, reanimated the corpses and slayed them all over again.