Easily my favorite album of 2013 thus far, Pinnacle of Bedlam stands as the band's best since Pierced From Within. Really. All the factors that made Suffocation the spiritual forefathers of such greats as Dying Fetus, Internal Bleeding, and pretty much every Slam Death band that ever existed are all here: intense brutality, imaginative slams, terrific guitar playing, multi-textured double bass drum approaches. Interestingly, the songs themselves are technical more in terms of guitarist Terrance Hobbs' innately idiosyncratic riff writing than anything glaringly notey; to elaborate, both the technicality of the riffs and often non-linear songwriting seem to be a byproduct of Mr. Hobbs' quirky personality showing through. It's a far more interesting and moving approach than the typically impersonal, beeping blaze of the vast majority of "Progressive Death Metal" (hello and goodbye Necrophagist and ilk). This uniqueness really makes the album (and Suffocation as a band) really stand out, not to mention Brutal Death Metal's most influential vocalist Frank Mullen delivering the hideous goods as usual...if not better than he has since the mid 90s. One of the things I love best about Suffocation's 90s output was how the albums seems to unfold themselves more and more with each listen. Pinnacle of Bedlam marks a return to that type of sound...you could get just as much out of this album on headphones as on your 5.1 set up. All these factors, combined with absolutely magnificent performances on the parts of all players, really good (if perhaps a nitpickably bit over digitized) production, and just plain killer music makes this one a hard to beat entry into the album of the years sweeps.
Extreme Metal is one of the sole places where I can actually appreciate and even love constant speed and oversatured guitar-tones. Brazilian legends Krisiun's album (and song) Black Force Domain is all about completely unrestrained speed, there are mostly just pauses and repetitive a tempo (not always on time) blasting throughout; only Moyses Kolesne anchors things some with his meth-freek Blackmore/Malmsteen style. Yes, there's phrasing in the solos here, it's just that the intentionally (yet somehow worthily) awful production can at first hinder the ears from picking it up. Andre will resort at times to simply blowing out a bunch of chaotic notes out in grand Slayer-by-way-of-Morbid-Angel fashion. But hey, just like the two bands mentioned, Krisiun's music is chaotic enough for the leads to act as complementary, not necessarily detractive (and never-you-mind the sniffs of the erroneously self-labelled "neo-classicists" and/or the powder puff power metal dorks).
Something about this band...perhaps it's how the jungles of Brazil conjure up intense, oppressively humid, peculiarly dark atmospheres; landscapes riddled with unimaginably-large snakes and spiders.
This album is their best, the rest in their repertoire are (like Obituary and latter day Deicide) just variations. In all fairness when it comes to Brutal Death Metal, that's akin to a compliment.