I WAS GETTING INKED at a friend's house in Florida many years ago. His stepdaughter had a gaggle of punk kids over. One of these, a wiry miscreant in a coonskin hat, informed me he was on acid. I plopped his ass in front of the stereo and put Suffocation's Pierced from Within on the deck. About 40 seconds into the first track the kid went nuts, grabbed a fencepost from a pile outside and began demolishing my friend's Ford.

That's a true story.

That's the kind of music it is. Soul-crushing, brain-flattening, tendon-ripping death metal. It's already inside you, inside every muscle fiber, stored in every gland, resident in every intestinal coil. Memory of the primal aggression rests in all cells; the barbarism inside needs only a catalyst upon which to precipitate. You can go to war, you can bring the war home, but all you need for a good dose of the ultra-violence is a stroll across the sonic landscape of Suffocation. Anchored by cornerstone guitarist Terrance Hobbs and returning drummer Mike Smith, the cacophonous grind is presided over by the bludgeoning lumber-mill howl of legend Frank Mullen. No other death metal band has come close to eclipsing the unmerciful brutality of this New York quintet. Driven by atrocious cadences with the weight of division-strength artillery, the psalms of death metal's reigning emperors are a direct corridor to the primeval self, the soundtrack to a sociopathic awakening. Like a shaped explosive charge, Suffocation blast through the protective layers and sear the emotional core, boiling the fluids of volition into frenzy.

You can deride this talk as schoolboy bluster, but as ugly as it is, the Grendel within is part of this balanced breakfast, an inexorable companion to the higher psychological functions. It resides in all of us, and it hungers. So, peaceful plebeians of Portland, bow your heads in thanks to Suffocation and their kin. Without their brand of catharsis we foot soldiers of earthly delights would be out splitting skulls to salve our savage devotion, instead of home listening to our stereos.