Friday, May 7; Sunshine Theater (all ages, 8 p.m.): Innovation has its downside. Just ask any of the three original members of death metal pioneers Suffocation. By the time the New York City band released their now classic EP, Despise the Sun, in 1998, the unique sound they had cultivated—a brutal mixture of speed metal, hardcore and classic metal—had in turn cultivated countless copycat bands. With the death metal scene becoming saturated by Suffocation sound-alikes and the genre itself seemingly nearing demise, the band that single-handedly created the New York death sound threw in the towel at the turn of the millennium.
Four years later, with the death metal scene revitalized and healthier than ever, Suffocation have made a triumphant return to the fold with Souls to Deny (Relapse). The year 2004 finds Suffocation operating with original members Terrance Hobbs (guitar), Frank Mullen (vocals) and Mike Smith (drums), along with guitarist Guy Marchais and bassist Derek Boyer, and sounding better than ever. Their trademark rhythmic complexity, ultra-melodic guitar work and guttural vocals remain intact, but there's a new sense of urgency in Suffocation's latest batch of songs that makes listening to the record a terrifyingly visceral experience. And, somewhat surprisingly, Suffocation have managed a return to the death metal scene without sounding the least bit dated. Once the shit, always the shit.