Thursday, January 24, 2008

Great moments in art history: Suffocation

Anybody that knows me at all knows that Suffocation is without a doubt one of my favorite bands of all time. They are legends, responsible for countless innovations in death metal. But what a lot of people don't know is that they're also pioneers in the world of fine art and design.





Exhibit 1: Human Waste
I love this album. When it came out, the brutality was completely unmatched. But the cover... I've studied it every day for the past 18 years and I'm still not sure I understand it. It's like a Heironymous Bosch or Francis Bacon painting, full of nearly infinite amounts of symbolism and intricate detail. What exactly is happening? Why is this demon with antlers using a circular saw on a bloody arm bone? Where is all the blood coming from? Actually it's not really a saw, it's just a saw blade on a stick. I am hoping that if I meditate on it long enough, it will make sense one day.

Exhibit 2: Effigy of the Forgotten front cover
One of Dan Seagrave's finest moments. What an incredible piece of work. Who else could have depicted a killer robot rampaging through a sci-fi garbage dump in such a compelling way? There are some nice little details, too: the robot skull on the end of the arm on top of the killer robot, the dragon egg in the bottom center, and the screaming mouth over on the right. Nothing could better suit this blasting masterpiece.
Exhibit 3: Effigy of the Forgotten photo shoot
Suffocation isn't just a band, they're a carefully orchestrated image campaign. Every piece of clothing they wear, every hair, every move they make- it's all part of their tightly controlled brand. You can see some examples of this in the inlay photos for the Effigy of the Forgotten booklet: Josh is wearing a Ripping Corpse shirt to match Terrence's Ripping corpse hat; Mike Smith (far right) brings to mind a young Rick James; Terrence looks right off the runways of Milan with his trendy acid wash cargo jeans. But Frank's outfit (center) is what really sets it off.
I'm guessing they hired a hotshot management consultancy like McKinsey or something to advise them on the right moves for this shoot. I imagine that it went something like this: "Frank, here's the outfit we put together for you for the Effigy shoot. We went with royal blue sweat pants and a Trump Plaza t-shirt." "OK, cool. That will make me look really businesslike and balance out Mike's Atheist belly shirt."

11 comments:

  1. mike loves that atheist belly shirt. damn.metal has gone to hell in a handbasket because no one wears sweatpants anymore...and i dont mean what is passing as sweatpants these days...the ones without the elastic cuff at the bottom. those are for american eagle/abercrobmie and fitch types. i'm talking about real deal, heather greay, cuff at the ankle sweats. two members of suffocation appear to be wearing these for the shoot. sweatpants and a trump plaza shirt? damn! that's hot son!

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  2. yeah dude, i couldn't agree more. the cuffs are an important detail and a good way of spotting a poser.

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  3. the color of the sweats is as carefully orchestrated as any other detail. many people don't know this, but gray sweats are actually NYDM gang colors. laugh if you must, but just wait until Ross Dolan comes at you one night in a dark alley dressed in a feldgrau '70s velour track suit. shit your pants, what?

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  4. man, i would kill for an atheist belly shirt!

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  5. speaking of sweats,you know how glam rockers take pretty much anything and make it shorter,or "sweet",or whatever? i remember livin in socal around 92-93,the end of the glam era,and you saw all the ex-poodle heads rockin the cut off right above the knee sweat pants with a flannel thatd be open except maybe the last 2 buttons so it could hang offa their shoulder,with some docs.

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  6. Um, maybe the sawblade on the stick is the artist's interpretation of a medical pinwheel? Wiki it.

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  7. gad, they looked like such dbags! but, boy, could they rock! hey, sergeant, do you remember that video of suffocation i had from the buffalo fest in 92? 'twas brutal!

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  8. wait, shouldn't your post read "Josh is wearing a Ripping Corpse hat to match Doug's Ripping Corpse shirt" - aren't those the correct identities in the photo?

    And, yeah, Effigy beat me into submission on so many occasions.

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  9. What happened to theis Chris guy who played bass in Pierced From Within? Is he also into Real Estate or sth?
    You forgot to comment Barney Greenway sweatpants in the Live Corruption vhs. Grey with cuffs, as it has to be, hasn't it? And with the tshirt inside, protecting him from the english wet cold.

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  10. great album, but thank god someone noticed the blade on a stick...theres no way hes getting any juice to that thing, so i have guess he hacks with it. Ive always wondered. I used to think this was one of the trees that came to life, but the antlers totally throw that theory off.

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  11. Great info!I feel highly about it and adore learning more on this kind of topic.

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