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SUFFOCATION Crossroads

Suffocation
Suffocation

It’s been a few years since American death metal outfit, Suffocation, hit Australian shores. Now, with a new album under their belts, they are gearing up for a double headliner show with Decapitated. JESSICA WILLOUGHBY chatted to bass player, Derek Boyer, ahead of their show at the Rosemount Hotel on Sunday, May 10.

Suffocation is a band that knows how to adapt – no matter what curveballs life throws at them.

Whether it be conflicting band members, line-up changes or label demands – these death metallers know how to weather the proverbial ‘shitstorm’. Their latest effort, Pinnacle Of Bedlam, proves they can deliver a solid album through the chaos. Not only does this album keep all the Suffocation hallmarks intact, but it also showcases more dynamic and memorable riffage than other recent releases.

This all comes despite founding member and drummer Mike Smith leaving the band quite dramatically. Bassist, Derek Boyer, admits it has been a tricky period, with tensions high. “Some of us are okay with Mike and some of us aren’t,” Boyer explains. “He’s one of those guys that has a really strong opinion. In his mind, he knows what he thinks is best. It got down to the point that he was building a family and the rest of the guys wanted to continue performing. With him doing the family thing, it made a lot of sense that maybe he just doesn’t want to do this full-time anymore.

“It got to the point where more of us want to do it full-time than not. He’s a great drummer and a great guy. It was just one of those things where the timing of what we wanted to do wasn’t seeing eye-to-eye. That’s okay – everything happens for a reason. Mike moving on was the best thing for him and his family.”

Fellow founder, vocalist Frank Mullen, also chose to step back from full-time touring to meet his work commitments. This made fleshing the album out live an interesting process, with Mullen nominating suitable candidates to fill his role when he can’t hit the road.

“We took our first chance with a good friend of ours Bill (Robinson),” Boyer says. “As good of a job he did, he said he wasn’t a musician – he was just a surfer (laughs). We thought we’d try someone who was more musically inclined, so we had John Gallagher from Dying Fetus step up. He did great – a really guttural voice. The guy we’ve got currently (Rickey Myers) is probably the best out of all of them. He really dots all the I’s and crosses all the T’s. When Frank can do it, that’s awesome. But it ended up working out great for us.”

The last time Suffocation hit Australia, they were touring off the back of their previous album, Blood Oath (2009). While fans are due to hear the bulk of Pinnacles Of Bedlam live this time around, the band has already completed a majority of its yet-to-be-named follow-up. “A lot of time has passed since we last came to Australia,” Boyer tells X-Press.

“We’ve toured with the new record and, since then, we’ve written another one. We’ve got a lot of new material. We’ve been trying to stay busy and play the smart shows. We just want to play music for the people and that we enjoy. But there’s so much politics that happens between the labels, promoters and management. If we did it the way we wanted to, we’d be in Australia every other year.

“The new album’s not complete, but a lot of the musical and lyrical concepts are done. There’s a ton of really chaotic material on the table. I’d like to say we’ll get all the pre-production done this year. I think we can record it too. But you probably won’t see hear it ’til next year.”

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