Officially formed in 1989, French death-proggers SUPURATION (also known as S.U.P. and formerly ETSICROXE) may not boast an extensive catalog of full-length albums to match their tenure, but they do have a handful of EPs and they can be found on a load of compilations and split releases. The curious newcomer to SUPURATION/S.U.P. should be aware that there's another entity known as SUP, comprising of the same musicians, though playing in a thoroughly different style than what they're best known for.

Often classified as a metrical mash of CARCASS and VOIVOD, there's a certain validity to the claim, albeit there are more elements to listen up for in their work. As SUPURATION, they've been thematically obsessed with the gestation process within both figurative and literal wombs. Ironic when you have Ludovic Loez barking havoc the majority of the time as SUPURATION lyrically explores birthing and genesis, sometimes in a celebratory manner, often to the opposite extreme. With death metal playing a large part in their work, it rings apparent that future mating of mankind is but germination to these guys and their ugly proposal is that the umbilical should be severed from within. When you add one more letter to the word "suppuration," then you have, by definition, the formation of pus, so take that into consideration as well.

As veterans, SUPURATION's playing is very sharp, and you're not necessarily going to hear them dirty down and speed through their songs. While Fabrice Loez captures some of Denis "Piggy" D'Amour's cyberpunk echo-reverb techniques, it's more impression and interpretation instead of mimicry. Ditto for the bass work shared between Ludovic Loez and session player Frederic Fievez; at times, you'll hear shades of Jean-Yves "Blacky" Theriault's chunky blower bass sensations. Also, when Ludovic Loez isn't growling, he has an undeniable imprint of Denis "Snake" Belanger lurking upon his hypnotized, mid-range monotones.

On SUPURATION's latest album "CU3E", it's hard to avoid hearing the VOIVOD connection, particularly on the opening numbers "Sinergy Awakes" and "Introversion". It's all done in tribute to their esteemed Quebecois brethren and also as the groundwork to seek opportunities for expansion and departure. By the time "CU3E" commandeers itself towards a hefty loft on "The Flight", the resemblance to VOIVOD and death metal, for that matter, is diminished and instead, progressive textures are capitalized and carried into the crunchy yet rock-driven finale, "The Climax".

While "CU3E" is touch-and-go with more successes than flops, their singular riff patterns keeps SUPURATION from being classifiable tech hounds, while the omnipresent death ralphing is sure to drive away many prog metal freaks acclimated to more a tuneful cadence on the mike. What SUPURATION dishes up on "CU3E" is challenging, yet these are largely fluid songs, congruent with Theirry Berger's forceful rolls, stamps and industrial-esque ride cymbal clangs. "Sinergy Awakes" is an engaging opener, while the hammering drive of "The Disenthrall" is one of the album's other high points. More in the vein of genuine death metal with sinister riffs on the verses and a crushing double hammer, "The Disenthrall" trundles like a train with a repeated clean mantra of "Gone? Gone? Strong?. Wrong?" swirling beneath the main groove in the key of Denis Belanger.

"The Delegation" is "CU3E"'s second moment of full-on thrust, coming off like a mesh of AMON AMARTH's galloping thunder and static resonances of VOIVOD as the song changes pace with a tempered sequence of progression before taking off once again. In-between are songs that yield a lot of variation and moods, often with commitment ("Datadance" and "Introversion", for example) and sometimes with aloof wandering, such as "The Incongruents".

What SUPURATION offers is pretty nifty in spirit with a tone-downed (though sometimes brutal) simulation of one of metal's most influential sovereigns. Rather than fully shadow VOIVOD, at least SUPURATION are explorative enough musicians to tinker rather than shoplift. "Consummation" starts out like exactly what past reviewers have called them, a CARCASS-VOIVOD hybrid, but as the song settles in the second half, there are echoes of "Ride the Lightning"-era METALLICA coming into play.

Chances are you're going to go running for "Dimension Hatross" after hearing "CU3E", but that hardly seems like an insult in this case.

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