Suppressive Fire - Bedlam Album Cover ResizeWell folks, here we are. 2016. The New Year’s hangovers have subsided, the Christmas turkey has been completely devoured, and we’ve all finished asserting that our own lists are better than everyone else’s [we’ve even finished running statistical models which show how my taste is better than yours – AMG]. Metal reliably soldiers on, and getting back into writing about it is like coming back home after a vacation. Everything’s just where it was left, and the sobering realization that it’s time to get back to work, school, and/or parenting again has fully dawned. As I drain the last of the holiday rum into my cup, metal (in this case Suppressive Fire’s first full-length Bedlam) blares through my headphones and a blank document stares me in the face in its blinding white majesty, just like the beginning of last year. It feels good to be home.

The Raleigh-based power trio of Suppressive Fire plays a brand of fun and slightly blackened thrash that skips the pizza entirely. Culling mainly from the “devil metal” of Nunslaughter, Nocturnal Breed’s Fields of Rot, and producer Joel Grind’s main outfit Toxic Holocaust, this is a modern take on thrash, infused with more extreme elements but still being rooted in the ethos of the harsher end of the classics spectrum. In different terms, Bedlam has a great deal in common with Pleasure to Kill but not so much with Ride the Lightning or Among the Living. The vocals of bassist Aaron Schmidt are good and harsh, sounding a lot like Grind’s work on Conjure and Command, itself in particular a large inspiration for the music here overall.

Suppressive Fire fares best when playing quick, taut, and riffy thrashers. “Ironsights” is one such tune, and merges Aura Noir with Toxic Holocaust to create a hooky track that’s a lot of fun without veering into pizza territory. “Nazi Face Melter” sounds like it was an outtake from Conjure and Command that really should’ve made the cut, and the crassly entertaining lyrics detail over the top vigilante violence. “Coup D’état” evokes Exodus and Slayer via Suicidal Angels in riffs and adds in a nifty bass lead before an effective Hammett-inspired solo. There’s enough intensity to get the blood pumping, and the measured use of blast beats makes them effective when they pop up. Opener “Ceasefire” is simple, catchy, and energetic fun that reminded me of later Goatwhore‘s better tunes, and while it would likely sound better in a live setting it’s good on record too. I could go on, but it should suffice to say that there’s at least an EP’s worth of quality stuff on Bedlam.

Unfortunately, Suppressive Fire don’t always put their best foot forward. When they move well past the four minute mark as on “Thy Flesh Consumed” and “Pyrophoric Blood” things get a little dicey. There aren’t enough interesting developments within the extended songs like Blood Tsunami did on Grand Feast for Vultures, making them come across as gratuitous in length and lessening their impact significantly. The title track’s verse riff is good but the clean intro is anticlimactic and fails to build any dramatic tension, and it doesn’t do enough with its five and a half minutes to really keep your attention for that long. On the bright side, Grind’s production is good and sounds like Erik Rutan produced Nunslaughter with a particularly snappy snare drum.

Suppressive Fire - Bedlam Band Pic

The inescapable feeling of Suppressive Fire not spending enough time redlining their speedometers keeps coming back, and I can’t seem to shake it off. While even black metal frequently gets away with it slowing it down for extended periods of time, Bedlam doesn’t have “Freezing Moon” or “Inno A Satana” type breaks. Instead, it opts to spend chunks of time between midpaced and almost fast; a notably lively jog, if you will. While blast beats pepper the record, something like Reign in Blood still sounds faster. Unlike that record, we don’t see red and get a nice punch to the gut again and again. Instead, we get a decent amount of quality headbanging fodder that’s tailor made for a fun time with friends and beers when Municipal Waste is just too obnoxiously tryhard to cut it. It’s good, but not top-shelf stuff; the “guests we kinda like” whiskey in audio form.

All told, Bedlam isn’t a bad way to start 2016’s reviewing. It isn’t a great way either. Given the generally low quality of releases in January though, Suppressive Fire might stand out more this month. With that in mind, I don’t think I’ll be coming back to Bedlam all too often throughout 2016. The album is professional, shows great potential, and has a few gnarly rippers. Not bad for their first rodeo, but the sultry calling of their influences and better contemporaries will drown out the voice which tells you to keep this in constant rotation.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: suppressivefire.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/suppressivefire
Releases Worldwide: January 16th, 2016

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  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Dammit! So much great name-dropping and only so-so? Nevertheless, I will have to give it a listen.

    Great review as always, good sir.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Cheers! And yeah, it’s one of those records that’s fine but could’ve been so much better.

      • [not a Dr]

        As it is, it’s extremely OK.
        I won’t complain if it happens to be playing, but it won’t be my suggestion (or my money) that will get it into the cd player.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    All those guys on the cover to fight one little pig? That must be one bad-ass boar.

    • Perhaps it’s one of those War Pigs that Ozzy was on about.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        One or more of those guys needs to be a general now.

    • Kronos

      I think that’s a par olafsson cover.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Yep. He’s good.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      That pig does look pretty ripped…

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Nothing to really say about the band, but love the review. I love how these bands insist that ‘black and white should take away from the fact that our photo shoot took place on the veranda’.

    It is so damn metal

    • Kronos

      Also the “Cannibal” shirt shows good taste in tech death.

    • madhare

      At least it’s a veranda in ruins. What can you do if you don’t have castle ruins in your backyard? The European bands definitely got it easy!

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        I laughed way too hard at this

  • Wow, the start to this year is kind of a brutal stretch. We really are snobs!

    • You wot m8?

      Don’t forget, we’re also officially elitists now.

    • André Snyde Lopes

      This is why we come ‘here’ and not elsewhere, after all.

    • mtlman1990

      Its ok. We have Textures ,Ihsahn, Obscura, Gojira, Dream Theater, Borknager, Abbath, Omnium Gatherum, Circus Maximus, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Moonsorrow to look forward to.

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        Just ordered some stuff from Season of Mist and apparently there is new Gorguts too!

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Is that the half hour single song thingy? Should be interesting, hopefully better than Colored Sands.

          • AlphaBetaFoxface

            I’d assume so, I have no idea what is being released, but there is something new coming this year. Did you enjoy Colored Sands? I thought it was brilliant, personally.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            I’m of the opinion that it’s the worst record in a remarkable career. It’s decent though, and definitely has some quality material. For whatever reason it sounded like Gorguts got influenced by the bands/scene they influenced themselves, which was weird but made sense considering the new blood. From Wisdom to Hate was much better IMO because it was their old sound filtered through Obscura, and they meandered less on FWtH than on CS.

          • AlphaBetaFoxface

            Your opinion is wrong

            #compellingargument2k16

            On a more serious note, I see where you are coming from, but personally, it’s tied with Erosion of Insanity and only falls behind Obscura. I wasn’t as big a fan of From Wisdom as I felt it like it deviated the least from the norm when compared to the band’s entire discography. I still love the record, but CS showed they are capable of creating a different sound while retaining their core values. And even if CS sounds influenced by modern contemporaries, it still stands as one of the best records of its kind from the past few years.

            Imo anyway haha

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Gorguts is interesting, because I think each one of their records is somebody’s favourite Gorguts record. If anything it speaks to a high quality discography. CS isn’t bad by any means, but I’ve found Mongrain’s playing style to fit better than Hufnagel’s. The guy has an uncanny ability to fit perfectly into an incredibly unique band, as he did it with Voivod too. Watching the first four songs of CS played live was incredible though, really made me appreciate it a little more. For me FWtH was about the one place they could go after Obscura, and leaning more towards punishing death metal was a great choice to my ears. IMO in this case too, of course!

          • AlphaBetaFoxface

            I completely agree with your first statement. And I see your perspective. Either way, FWtH is still one of my favourite records of all time, alongside the band’s entire discography. Luc is a god amongst men!

          • El_Cuervo

            “better than Colored Sands”.

            We’re gonna have a problem here DiM.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            You’ve lost so much confidence in Gorguts that you think they’re going to make a record worse than their worst record?! It’s good and all, but every other Gorguts record is better.

          • El_Cuervo

            bruuuuuhhhhhh.

            That is all.

          • If we’re listing worst Gorguts albums around here, Obscura takes the prize. It was ground-breaking for sure, but not by any means a good album

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            I’ve found it’s a great album, but not all of the songs are great on their own. “Clouded” is just ludicrous to put on outside of listening to Obscura, but in context it makes a bizarre sort of sense and really works. It’s one of those records where listening to it outside of itself kind of ruins it IMO. That’s one reason why I enjoy it as much as I do, if that makes any sense.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        For some reason I thought Textures broke up, guess I was off-base there. That new Ihsahn will be interesting, seems he’s dropping the more noisy experimental stuff from Das Seelenbrechen. Abbath will be fun, the posted stuff is entertaining as Hell so far.

      • And yet we have so few of those promos. :p

  • Reese Burns

    Oh come on! I’ve gone through all the year end lists already, and I’m ready for something more! I need more good music! 2.5 bands won’t cut it, damnit!

  • El_Cuervo

    “low quality of releases in January”. You’re in the wrong place bro. You obviously ain’t heard Wildernessking, Lycus and Avantasia.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Shit, here’s an edit: “mediocre quality of releases in January, save for the record with God’s Gift to Music: Jorn Lande.”

      • El_Cuervo

        Thanks for the qualification (y)

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Looks like we have to wait until the 25th for the “official” release of Mystical Future.

      • El_Cuervo

        Worthy record. At the minute it’s my fave for January.

  • Guillotine of Papal Crowns

    I can´t stop noticing that the guy in the right is the metal equivalent of Andy Dwyer/Starlord… That and the darts. Fucking triple 20.