To the outsider, Suffocation can sound like a run-of-the-mill death-metal group. But the Long Island quintet ranks among the most influential bands in the history of the genre — starting with its 1991 EP Human Waste and running through mid-'90s albums like Pierced From Within. Many other groups earned their stripes copying Suffocation's rule book, only without the songwriting, chops, or presence to totally pull it off. Despite countless imitators over the years, Suffocation's heavily percussive and dissonant sound is still instantly recognizable to fans. The band took some time off in the late '90s. Its 2004 comeback, Souls to Deny, was strong, and the group kept the momentum going with a tour and another CD in 2006. The vacation did the guys some good. Unlike tired scene veterans Deicide and Morbid Angel, Suffocation still has tons of inspired ideas. — Will York
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