Suffocation – “Effigy of the Forgotten”


The making of Suffocation’s “Effigy of the Forgotten”

released: 1991

label: Roadrunner


When five unassuming, working-class dudes from Nassau County (Long Island, NY) released their debut full-length in 1991, it initially didn’t seem destined to have the atomic bomb of impact that it would eventually ascertain with the passage of time. Suffocation’s Effigy of the Forgotten may have been quickly digested, understood and worshipped by the same folks who quickly digested, understood and worshipped early efforts by fellow death metal hack ‘n’ slashers Cannibal Corpse, Baphomet, Malevolent Creation, Morbid Angel and Deicide, but in reality, even though death metal was at its early ’90s popularity apex, there didn’t appear to be much love for the genre’s sonic extremity coming from those obsessed with other styles of metal. This was mostly due to do the growling vocals, and on Effigy of the Forgotten, Frank Mullen just happened to turn in one of the most bilious displays of death growling and throat-and-diaphragm abuse to date, offending the sensibilities, ears and genteel constitutions of fans of the era’s more popular thrash and crossover genres. The music Mullen, drummer Mike Smith, bassist Josh Barohn and guitarists Terrance Hobbs and Doug Cerrito created was at once ferocious and crushing, yet technical and rife with innovation when it came to drum patterns, how guitars were tuned and played, and how a thousand pounds of everything were seamlessly integrated into a cohesive package. Being another in a long line of albums recorded by producer Scott Burns at Tampa’s Morrisound Studios, Effigy of the Forgotten was a benchmark for extreme music, as it sacrificed neither virtuosity or brutality, becoming a signpost for thousands who were still contemplating how to incorporate scalar runs, rapid-fire palm-muting and hummingbird-wing-quick picking into riffs, while opening up rhythmic dimensions and scope of the blast beat. Effigy’s music was top-notch technical death metal dripping with blue-collar artistry, and even though the band was often pilloried for the vocals by those not-so-quick to the party, Suffocation stuck to their guns, contributing one of death metal’s most influential albums and the latest entry into our Hall.

—Kevin Stewart-Panko

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