Between 1990 and '98, Suffocation was a primary force in what is now called "brutal death metal," a movement spawned because "regular" death metal wasn't brutal enough.
That's a concept non-fans will have a hard time grasping, but here's why Suffocation is important: Beginning with its 1991 album Effigy of the Forgotten, released on Roadrunner, the group took death metal to new extremes in technical mastery. Suffocation's playing literally pushed back man's physical barriers. Part of a burgeoning death-metal scene in New York as well as a nationwide technical-metal movement along with Immolation, Gorguts, and main architects Morbid Angel, Suffocation was seen as unique in that two of its members, guitarist Terrance Hobbs and drummer Mike Smith, were African Americans. That's a rarity in metal circles even today.
After a hiatus between 1998 and '04, Suffocation restarted touring and recording. Its latest is a 2006 self-titled disc for the Relapse imprint.
Folks unfamiliar with Suffocation's sonic fury can expect unspeakably low (even by death-metal standards) Cookie Monster vocals, the chunky riffage of grindcore (minus any hardcore trappings), and swirling leads that burst from rhythm breaks like 60 rounds per second from a blazing M240. The band also does a positively enchanting cover of the "Top Gun Anthem."