Suffocation, one of the bands which shaped technical death metal, have just released (June 9th) their eighth studio album ‘… Of The Dark Light’ via Nuclear Blast. To make this album happen they had by their side the longtime engineer Joe Cincotta, and once again Chris “Zeuss” Harris who handled the mixing and mastering. The band is also heading on tour, first in the US and then in Europe (“Beyond The Dark Light European Tour”) visiting 12 countries.

The new album Of the Dark Light was released on June 9th via Nuclear Blast. It’s been four years since Suffocation’s last album Pinnacle Of Bedlam. You have said that this will be the most brutal record of the band. What should the fans expect from this release?

DEREK: It’s a brutal record for sure. Fans can expect a fast, intense, brutal record with this one. We’re happy with the overall package of the album.

You also include some back-up vocals from Kevin Muller (The Merciless Concept). I would say this sounds quite innovative for the band and the genre. My mind goes to clean vocals. How do the back-up vocals work for the album?

DEREK: It was a great idea having Kevin jump in on the record, as he is the guy who’ll be doing the live vocals when Frank can’t be there. Kevin performs all over the new album; he sounds a lot like Frank so he is a great fit for the band!

I guess that while you were working on the new album Guy Marchais left the band and was replaced by Charlie Errigo. Did his departure influence the writing of the new album?

DEREK: Guy was going through some personal stuff when he decided to leave the band. Charlie was a friend of ours who happened to be a great fit so we brought him into the fold. He’s killing it!!!! Guy’s departure did not influence the writing of the new album.

Suffocation have been through a lot of line-up changes. However the band has managed to sustain its original musical identity. Would you say that it is actually a two-men-band (Frank Mullen and Terrance Hobbs)?

DEREK: Suffocation is band of musicians; it’s unfortunate that some musicians can’t keep working together, whether it’s personal differences, outside goals, family, or whatever… Suffocation always gets great musicians (every era) and currently we have one of the best lineups to date, the chemistry and abilities of the players of our current lineup is top notch!!!! NOT A 2 MAN BAND! 5 players period, that’s what makes up Suffocation.

Tell us a few words about the concept of the album and the cover artwork, which differs compared to the previous old-school artworks.

DEREK: The transcendence theme from the lyrical concept made its way to the cover. We had a few ideas that we discussed with the artist Colin Marks and our ideas came to life. Where the last cover was not discussed with the artist, the artist just presented us a few variations and we picked one.

Suffocation is one of the pioneers of brutal/technical death metal. For sure you have influenced a lot of bands. In the course of your musical career, have you been also receiving influences from other bands?

DEREK: We don’t really take from other bands…. I mean I guess there’s a part that we’re like “you know the Death part” or “the Decrepit Birth part”, but we don’t just sit around and say let’s write like “some” other bands.

Metal and its genres evolve, and new sub-genres emerge. Are there new bands you admire or see that they can make a difference?

DEREK: I can’t really say there are many new bands that we admire. I can say I’m impressed with the popularity of the up and coming bands, for sure. I do think that the new bands are making a difference in the scene, they’re keeping metal alive (whether they know it or not).

You are heading on European tour this August and there are also a lot of performances in the US. For the live shows Rick Myers has the vocal duties. Is there any chance Frank Mullen to be on stage in any of these upcoming shows?

DEREK: Ricky is not doing the live work in Frank’s place anymore that will be Kevin Muller‘s position now. We’re out on tour right now with Morbid Angel in the US and Kevin is doing the vocals. Frank was on stage with us in NYC a few nights ago, but unfortunately he will not be out with us in Europe.


Suffocation are undergoing their third decade. Which three words can describe your history, and how do you see your future?

DEREK: FAST, INTENSE, BRUTAL. I think our future is bright. The new players are KILLER!!!! We’re doing great on this tour, and we’ll crush the upcoming tours too!!!

Thank you very much for your time! We are looking forward for the new album! Close this interview as you will.

DEREK: Thank you for time and interest in Suffocation! Hope to see you all at the shows!!!! BE WELL!

Mary Kalaitzidou