Suffocation fused the predominant rhythmic styles of early death metal and grindcore, with complex song structures to start a new subgenre of music, considered brutal death metal by some. Suffocation is placed amongst peers such as Immolation, Incantation, and Morpheus (Descends) as being part of a genetic fragment of death metal known as "New York Death Metal", or "NYDM" for short.
The band is also known for having two African American musicians (drummer Mike Smith and guitarist Terrance Hobbs) which is rare in the underground metal scene. The band was formed in 1990 and since then released a couple of highly-regarded releases on Roadrunner Records, as well as their last EP Despise The Sun on a smaller label.
Of note is also their debut EP Human Waste, which was the first official release on Relapse Records in 1991. In death metal history, Suffocation stands unique for fusing the technical with the percussive, brutal "older" styles of death metal. Suffocation integrated death metal with the muffled strumming and downstroke rhythms of speed metal while introducing more complex rhythms, a variety of influences, and bizarre, mocking lead guitar.