Writing about this album is a hard task. It would be easy to fall into the rabbit hole of angry internet metal warriors commenting on several websites about the downfall of the formerly beloved deathcore institution which is Suicide Silence. As for me, I will start this review honestly right away: The Cleansing is surely one of the most iconic albums in this genre, but after that, no release by the band grabbed my attention; it was all too formulaic, too uninspired. After the tragic death of Mitch Lucker, the band recruited All Shall Perish fronter Eddie Hermida and released You Can’t Stop Me in 2014, which was also not all that interesting or compelling in my ears. Now, Suicide Silence are back with their self-titled new album, and the shitstorm is real.
Should I talk about the controversy which arose around the releases of “Doris” and “Silence”? I don’t think so. Blood, tears and hate have been shed about those two singles; the death of Suicide Silence, the failure of one of the biggest names in the scene was exhaustively heralded. All these phrases, garnished with a decidedly more empurpled tone, filled comment sections all around the blogosphere and caused an outrage. But sure, I didn’t want to talk about that. Let’s get back to business.
Suicide Silence was produced by epochal sound wizard Ross Robinson, who worked with bands like Slipknot, KoRn, Sepultura and many more. You can hear his influences in every second of the album, in every note, every drum hit, every phrase sung. In contrast to the massive, typically modern sound of the band’s previous few records, this one has a crisp, noisy, almost experimental sonic image, which was one of the first things that made it appealing to me. Yep, the cat is out of the bag. When I heard the first single, I was very intrigued. As a big fan of early Slipknot, early Deftones and Glassjaw, I was very excited to hear a new Suicide Silence album for the first time in what felt like forever. I’ve mentioned before that I was never a big fan of this band, but these songs got me interested.
And here we are, the main event, put up or shut up, the real deal. Let’s look beyond the whole PR machinery surrounding this album, beyond the controversy. Let’s look at the songs: are they really any good? If you hate the two singles which were released prior (and I’m talking about disliking the style of the songs, not the fact that the band changed their sound so drastically), you’ll have a hard time with Suicide Silence. But remember, hard times don’t necessarily entail only bad things. Maybe you’ll have to force yourself a little bit, but you could come to the conclusion that the songs are actually pretty cool.
The record starts with “Doris” and “Silence“, and both songs tell you much about the journey you’re about to embark on. It might seem weird at the beginning, but in the context of the whole record, these two are actually a good start into this experience. The weird and nu metal-informed approach, delivered especially in “Doris” with its rough tones and interesting stylistic choices (chiefly vocal-wise), sets the bar for what’s to come within the upcoming songs. “Silence” opens with a really thick and meaty groove, before melting into a surprisingly dark Deftones homage, and I chose the word ‘homage’ over ‘ripoff’ on purpose, but more on that later.
I could go through every song and try to describe them for you, the readers, but instead of doing that, let me highlight some of the most exceptional moments on this album. “Dying In A Red Room”, the fourth track on Suicide Silence, is simply my favorite song Suicide Silence have ever written. It’s again very Deftones–esque and could count as the record’s ‘ballad’, but it really embraces you with an awesome vocal performance. That’s the deal with Eddie Hermida. His vocal style is just perfect for this kind of music, and it shows in an impressive way how versatile he is as a singer, particularly compared to his work with All Shall Perish and on Suicide Silence‘s previous record.
The second half of “Hold Me Up Hold Me Down” is as close as you can get to old SuSi on this nine-track affair. Super-duper meaty, it’s a three minutes long crescendo of heaviness, cumulating into desperate screams and boisterous guitar layers. “Zero” and “Conformity” are both really similar in their way of arrangement, starting with calm, insidious sections before erupting into explosive guitar grooves.
Despite my initial appreciation, there are some major points of criticism regarding Suicide Silence, but they’re all a matter of perspective. It’s absolutely understandable that so many of the band’s fans asked for a renaming, facing the dominant changes in terms of musical style and sound. It’s also understandable that the fans felt snubbed about how drastically the said changes are executed, starting with the production and ending with the huge amount of clean vocals. You can also screw my preferred term ‘homage’ and throw in some terms which fit your perspective better, like ‘ripoff’ or ‘parody’. And finally, you could criticize the album’s sometimes blurry production, which appears to be slightly off from time to time. You either love or hate the vocals. That’s it.
We should talk about a final conclusion. I could have dug deeper into this record, every detail of every song, but instead I decide to give you a brief and honest overview on what you can expect from what is probably the most controversial release in 2017’s metal scene. Some poeple will love it, even more will hate it, but I really hope you will try to take an unbiased listen and decide after that. I really enjoyed this record, despite the fact that it contains some mediocre songs and repetitive ideas, because it’s an interesting, bumpy ride nevertheless.
Notable tracks: “Dying In A Dead Room”, “Hold Me Up Hold Me Down”
FFO: Deftones, Slipknot, Lamb Of God, Korn