Album Review: SUICIDE SILENCE Suicide Silence (and Stream It Yourself)
The new self-titled Suicide Silence (Nuclear Blast) marks the fifth full length from the deathcore giants. At the center of controversy, the first single “Doris” faced major criticism, mostly from the use of clean vocals. In the face of the social media backlash (even one fan starting a petition requesting the album to not be released), vocalist Eddie Hermida stood his ground. Hermida has stated that music needs to be able to take risks if it is to challenge its boundaries. With Hermida taking lead after the passing of Mitch Lucker, 2014’s You Can’t Stop Me kept to the same flow and sound of previous works. In this new rendition of the band there comes MAJOR changes from what fans have heard before.
If for a second you thought “Doris” and “Silence” were going to be the only different sounding songs on here, then you are in for a huge wake-up call. What is the most surprising factor about the whole package is how it embodies 90's nu metal. The similarities between such acts as Korn, Slipknot, and Deftones aren’t just there, they are glaring. These elements come through in all aspects of the band. This may be a huge turnoff for fans who were looking forward to classic deathcore. After listening to the first two singles I expected some changes of course, but I didn’t expect so much of the music to take on this vibe.
Through this new approach Suicide Silence comes off with an odd sense of identity. They take the nu metal sound and bring in bits of their own attitude and style through it. The similarities to older bands are glaring, surely to wear on listeners as the record moves forward. One positive of the new direction is the guitar work of Mark Heylmun and Chris Garza. Together they create hefty churning sections and dreamy inducing melodies that are at once catchy and heavy at times. Dan Kenny and Alex Lopez have brief moments to shine, but nothing that sticks out as unique.
Then there are the vocals, perhaps the most discussed component of this release. If you weren't crazy for "Doris" or "Silence", well…. you are more than likely not going to be a fan of everything else. There are times where Hermida's singing can sound nice and work with a song. However, whether it is through odd uses of inflection or tone, the clean vocals hurt the tracks in the end, in my opinion. They never fit the composition, and the music already feels disorganized. It feels as if they wanted to attempt an art house style with nu-metal, rolling different elements into a proper flow. But in the end, the new material is difficult to decipher.
In “Dying In A Red Room” Hermida takes on a Chino Moreno approach in singing. Instrumentals progress at a gentle tempo and light atmosphere, including a strong drum flow and fuzzy guitar tones. There are also plenty of classic screams and growls, such as in “Hold Me Up Hold Me Down”. For the most part there is some use of deathcore like vocals here, backed by an old school Korn rhythm, full of crunchy notes and groove. Moments like these make for the brief periods when clean vocals don't hurt the music. It’s when Hermida attempts spoken word segments that the music utterly loses all traction. In particular with “Listen”, there comes a brief section where the vocals go into spoken word and the instrumentals take on a distance. It throws the song off balance and stunts the flow. The song in particular demonstrates a range of sounds and structure, and chemically this comes off odd and not effective. There are cases where structure is really out there, and the experimental sense gets ruined due to choppiness and random directions. One of the biggest issues in Suicide Silence is organization. Music composition and each individual part of the band sound too awkward, and rarely are there memorable positive moments.
“Run” includes a brief electronic intro before swinging into high gear, using that strong churn we’ve heard in previous tracks. It helps that the instrumental pace is subtle, allowing the gentle vocals to come through clearer. “Conformity” is one of the standout titles for coming off as the most unique of the collection. Its approach is peaceful and really lets emotion settle in. “Don’t Be Careful You Might Hurt Yourself” is perhaps the most deathcore these guys get here. Ripping screams and instrumentals flying off in old school Suicide Silence fashion, this makes for a nice adrenaline rush. However, before the halfway mark, the song drops and loses that sick as hell speed.
This album is an extreme change for Suicide Silence. It sums up the idea of taking major risks when switching up a signature style. The fact the band barely sounds like deathcore may lose a lot of fans who wanted that. The fact they have taken on such a heavy 90's nu metal vibe may irk a lot of listeners as well. As artists who wanted to do their own thing though you have to hand it to them. As a work of music this simply doesn't come off that strong. Not only do the vocals take away from the impact of heaviness or emotion, but they (along with the instrumentals), go off in too many directions to follow. The nu metal sound is thrown into the listener's face, and impossible too ignore. All of this, combined with difficult balance and structure, make for a work that isn't just simply "too different", but tough to digest and fully enjoy. There are also the times when a certain song will stick out with intensity, or when one comes off with the perfect balance of heavy and catchy. These moments are not common enough however. In the end this could be a direction the guys sincerely stick with. Their determination to create the art they want is noble, and in time we can hope that the band builds upon this new direction, and bring Suicide Silence back with a powerful, emotional, and individually unique voice.