Suffocation's formula was extreme old-school Death Metal, plain and simple. All of the basic trademarks of the genre were there, including hyper speed blast beats, growly vocals, and intense riffing. Suffocation was formed in 1988 on Long Island, New York. In 1990 the standing line-up of Frank Mullen (vocals), Doug Cerrito (guitar), Mike Smith (drums), Josh Barohn (bass) and Terrance Hobbs (guitar) came together. The quintet was mainly influenced by fellow American death metal bands as well as the British band Napalm Death and Brazilian Sepultura. After releasing their debut demo, Reincremation, they released a set of Hardcore Death Metal albums during the decade, including Human Waste (1991), Effigy Of The Forgotten (1991), Breeding The Spawn (1992; the album where Chris Richards took over on bass); after, and Smith left the band and was replaced by Doug Bohn), Live Death (1994; where the drum stool was taken over by Doug Bohn), and Pierced From Within (1995).
While Pierced From Within saw the act at their height with word tours and their best quality production to date, their past effort, Effigy Of The Forgotten, was an important release for the band for it was here that the band took the rhythmic relentlessness of hardcore beats, put them into speed metal structures and overlaid off-time counterpoints. Effigy of the Forgotten took Suffocation's intent to a new plane, taking the multiple languages of music and unifying them in an evocative, thundering chorus of death metal and laid down what would be the modern Suffocation.
The band was to return now on on micro-indie 'Vulture Records' with the EP Despise The Sun (1998). Just as the band were getting ready for a new round of world conquests internal conflicts forced the act to split after Erik Rutal (ex-Morbid Angel) teamed up with Doug Ceritto to form Hate Eternal and release their debut album.
A small label proved to not be enough for a band of their former size so 'Relapse' stepped up to the plate to re-release Despise The Sun in 2002.
In early 2002, rumors of a Suffocation 'reunion' began to surface and the act confirmed their intentions soon afterwards and with a line-up of Mike Smith (drums), Terrance Hobbs (guitar), Guy Marchais (guitar), Frank Mullen (vocals), and Derek Boyer (bass), the band resumed writing and rehearsals and announced that they were back to stay and ready to deliver once again.
Immediately upon the announcement, Suffocation headlined the sold-out 2003 installments of the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival, Maryland Deathfest and Milwaukee Metalfest. In June, 2003, the band unveiled a brand new song entitled Deceit. The as-then-unsigned band's video for Deceit made its world-premier on Fuse's Uranium program, and, as a testament to their universally-recognized impact on the genre, Suffocation was profiled on both Uranium and MTV2's Headbangers Ball without the influence of label backing. Once again returning to the 'Relapse' label they would release Souls To Deny (2006).
Suffocation also released their self-titled album, Suffocation, in 2006.
In 2008, the band signed to the German 'Nuclear Blast Records' and released their album Blood Oath in 2009. Also in 2009, Relapse released the live album entitled Close of a ChapterLive in Québec City, that was previously self-released by the band in 2005.
In February, 2012, Smith left the band again, to be replaced by Dave Culross.
In 2012, the band was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and released Pinnacle of Bedlam in February 2013.
Since after the release of Pinnacle of Bedlam in 2013, Lead vocalist Frank Mullen announced that he will retire from full-time touring with the band due to his new job.