Saturday, August 1, 2009

You're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

Amongst all the chaos that Suffocation has wrought over the years (Blood Oath 2009), I wanted to concentrate on Mike Smith’s work for this entry, and how he changed the blast-beat. If you are unfamiliar with the history of the blast-beat, this isn't the time. I got work to do.

Any great antagonist never disappears, remaining daunting at every corner and cavity. The same goes for Jaws of the deep, Satan in the flesh, and Mr. Smith’s snare drum. Production techniques over the decades since their LP debut Effigy of the Forgotten have changed significantly, but his presence in the sound hasn’t.

Smith alternates between the two bass drums instead of speeding up on one; the later is considered the desired one because it drives the band harder. When Smith strikes the snare though, he changes this interpretation, by creating a downward-shatter-point, not a forward beat. Plenty of drummers in the extreme metal scene can play faster, but none can single handedly dominate like this. Each strike is so powerful that the snare doesn’t even get the chance to expand entirely before the next blow, creating a blur of intense notes that cave in on each other. The same consequence allows him permeate into other areas of the mix, distorting into the guitar section, while his kick and hi-hat flank their sides.

A lot of younger bands think being the fastest thing around is the only way to get noticed, they should take some more notes from Suffocation. This band has thrown on a hardhat for decades and put in enough work to own a place in metal history. Mike Smith just happens to be the catalyst with the cleaver.

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