Souls to Deny is Suffocation's first release since 1998's Despise the Sun EP, and their first full-length since 1995's Pierced From Within. Since they'd been on hiatus for a while, this is technically a "reunion album," but it doesn't feel like one. Interestingly, Suffocation haven't really changed their basic style much at all since those earlier releases, yet this album still sounds completely current in terms of the present-day death metal scene -- probably because so many bands continue to be influenced by Suffocation's early- to mid-'90s albums. However, even though the surface-level characteristics of the band's sound haven't changed, there is still plenty of ingenuity and sleight-of-hand happening below the surface. Standouts include opener "Deceit," the title track, "Immortally Condemned," and the amazing "Demise of the Clone," whose cyclical riffs give the odd impression of repeating while at the same time having no beginning or end. The song offers a concise summary of what makes this band so revered by death metal aficionados. There seems to be a sort of hidden logic at work in it, since it's hard for even an astute listener to figure out what's going on in terms of the song structure, yet it obviously all makes perfect sense to the band, who deliver this perplexing material with a natural, freely flowing sense of brutality. Many bands have attempted to copy Suffocation's sound, and most of them are extremely boring because they either don't grasp the subtleties or don't have the intuition that these guys obviously possess as songwriters and musicians. "Souls to Deny" is a reminder of what makes good death metal good, and a refreshing break from the uninspired landfill fodder that constitutes so much of the genre's output circa the early- to mid-'00s.
AllMusic Review by William York
feat: Keith DeVito