Review: Suffocation “Human Waste” [Relapse Records]

Review: Suffocation “Human Waste” [Relapse Records]

- in Reviews
Score 91%
The great annihilator
91 %
User Rating : 4.5 (2 votes)

One thing that I love about cover artwork is its ability to represent what kind of album you’re dealing with and of course plenty of death metal albums from its heyday were full of iconic artworks. Now take a quick look at the one of Human Waste and look at that thing. Doesn’t that make you want to check this out if you haven’t already?

By 1991 plenty of death metal bands turned death metal into a more technical and sophisticated direction and while I like some outputs of plenty of the bigger names, I can see why some death metal fans became disappointed by the outputs of some bands. Pestilence became too Americanized and pretentious, Death headed towards something that wasn’t exactly the norm and Atheist released their most progressive album so far. Granted, it makes perfect sense to me that some death metal fans were scratching their heads at this time and wonder where all the vigorous aggression of some bands went.

In Suffocation’s case, the combination of relentless brutality and technical skill made Human Waste so lethal. This would by no means be as technical as the band’s follow up records, yet I feel that this EP was already one of the more sophisticated efforts of its time. Sure, there’s some thrash-inspired trickery (though often supported by a good amount of blastbeats) evident here, but the mid-tempo segments have more in common with, say, Martin van Drunen-era Pestilence due to their clinical touches than any other band. Just hear how “Catatonia” demolishes onward like a bulldozer before that riff at 0:30 sound like something you’d expect out of Malleus Maleficarum. I love that album, so you can bet I love this one too – that’s how things work, right? Even that blistering riff at 3:00 sounds like vaguely like the best Death-esque riff Chuck Schuldiner never wrote. Think of one of the most blistering riffs of Human injected with an enormous amount of testosterone and you’re not far off. Of course riffs have to go somewhere, but you can bet that Suffocation had a serious thing for effective song-craft. “Infecting the Crypts” goes straight for the kill and that riff at 1:45 makes a contester for one of my favorite death metal riffs of all time; as if you’re on rollercoaster that takes you through a god damn slaughterhouse before you come crashing down on your own grave. The break is intense, but it all leads to that hyper-speed ending where the blood-thirsty guitars match with the mayhem of those blastbeats. “Synthetically Revived” sounds like it was clearly inspired by “Out of the Body” (Pestilence again) – halfway through it turns into an even more threatening offering by the time that riff at 1:55 appears; as if Consuming Impulse was played by a group of rabies-infected musicians and of course it turns into another tour de force of calculated bloodshed from this point.

You also couldn’t ask for a more fitting production as far as I’m concerned. Frank Mullen gurgles through these compositions as if you’re listening to the misanthropic hatred of that demonic beast on the cover artwork itself. Noisy dive bombs represent the end of times, thanks to that chainsaw of a guitar tone (quite a big difference compared to the face crushing tone the band would equip themselves with later) and the drum sound allows Mike Smith to create havoc in the best way possible without interrupting anyone else through an unbalanced mix or whatever. Human Waste is clearly fantastic, but my only point of criticism literally shows up at the end of it. Indeed, “Jesus Wept” isn’t quite as hook-y as the tracks that came beforehand and while it still sees Suffocation breaking barriers, the majority of the damage was already inflicted by the first four tracks. Of course, even this album closer is still more threatening than what most death metal bands had come up with. Human Waste represents a milestone of brutality and isn’t made for the weak – you simply won’t find any better death metal EP out there.

Release date: May 1st, 1991

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