It’s really nice to be rigorous in life and to demand high quality in every sector or activity that you do or love (or both). But the most important is to never destroy “the essence”, as to never let the substance get away, never forget that what matters is that what you get in your hands is something that pleases you, not something that fulfills your standards just for the sake of it.

Pierced from Within is Suffocation’s third studio album, coming after an instant classic from the first day that was released, Effigy of the Forgotten (1991) and one that almost destroy their reputation Breeding the Spawn (1993). Back in 1993, the majority of receptions from fans and critics weren´t that positive for BTS, mainly due to its poor production. So “Breeding the Spawn” raised some serious problems for the band and probably was the main reason why drummer Mike Smith left Suffocation shortly after the release of it. Unfortunately it was the same situation for “Pierced from Within”. Once again the receptions were rather negative in the beginning, with fans and the Press making some noise about the weak production. Even if the lo-fi production wasn’t wittingly chosen, but mostly was a “bad” result as the judgmental claimed (or a departure statement from the studio’s signature sound) coming from the famous Morrisound Studios in Tampa, Florida, still it wasn’t such a determine factor for the final result, in fact the production was definitely much better than in their previous effort and actually a totally killer one. Please notice here that Roadrunner Records refused in the first place to pay for recordings in Morrisound Studios with producer Scott Burns, which was the band´s primary choice and turned to be the album’s producer after all! Other fans and critics were nagging for the two re-recordings (Synthetically Revived” is a re-recording of the song of the same title from the Human Waste EP and “Breeding the Spawn” is a re-recording of the title track from the band’s previous album) and some because the album was too long (for them) as it is 45 minutes and 31 seconds long and it is still the band’s longest album to date. Bullshit! Pierced from Within is probably the best studio album that Suffocation released ever!

Takahashi’s original painting

Technically speaking Suffocation here are walking in the highest peaks of the tallest mountains of the Earth and whoever argues about it, probably have never heard this album not even once in its entirety. No they are not walking; they are dancing like Indians holding in hands the scalps of their doubters. The riffs are huge, over-technical and exaggerated. But work fine in their complicated patterns that use different scales with addition of power chords, textures and a plethora of accents with the use of palm mutes and breakdowns. The bass is much more audible while not too high in the mix and the vocals are much clearer and comprehensible than in it were in their precedent album. Now the vocals are not only extremely brutal growling, as it was also on “Breeding the Spawn”, but you can easily listen to words and phrases that stuck into your mind, making the album even more effective. Frank Mullen’s performance was a blast, while the new back then drummer Doug Bohn proved capable of wearing Mike Smith’s shoes.

In 1995 Death Metal’s commercial peak was already two years past. Major labels weren’t searching for new bands, while neither was expecting something more from the bands that have signed by that time. Still many great albums were created in this year as bands were still hungry for blood and experimentation or to push the genre’s limits.  In 1995 many classic death metal albums were seen the light of day such as Morbid Angel’s Domination, Solstice’s Pray, Deicide’s Once Upon the Cross, Sinister’s Hate, Dismember’s Massive Killing Capacity, Unanimated’s Ancient God of Evil, Unleashed’s Victory, At The Gates’ Slaughter of the Soul, Death’s Symbolic and Six Feet Under’s Haunted. In this demanding and extremely challenging environment Suffocation proved to be brave enough to face present by giving us memories of the future, welcoming us to their church. A future that would be definitely different and probably too commonplace without the release of Pierced from Within and its impact on the Extreme Sound in general.

Highlights include the sick artwork cover from Hiro Takahashi, the opening title track, my favorite “Thrones of Blood”, “Torn Into Enthrallment”, “Depths Of Depravity”, “Suspended in Tribulation”, and finally the second re-recording “Breeding the Spawn” which closes emphatically the album.