A lot of people have been dreading this album. And that shouldn’t happen, not to a band like Suicide Silence. Remember, this is a band whose frontman, one of the most liked characters in the genre by band members and fans alike, lost his life, and yet still they managed to come out swinging on the other side, recruiting All Shall Perish vocalist Eddie Hermida to pick up from where Mitch Lucker left off and released You Can’t Stop Me in 2014, deathcore’s crowning jewel of that year and the album that showed that Suicide Silence were nowhere close to done. But three years later, every facet of their self-titled follow-up initially postitioned it to be outright disaster, especially the shockingly negative reaction to pre-release singles Doris and Silence which saw traditional deathcore shed away in favour of clunky Korn and Deftones worship and an album that was claimed to be “70% clean vocals”. And despite the ridiculous petition set up to prevent this album from even being released (seriously, if you want to see a prime example of just how entitled some music ‘fans’ are, look no further), Suicide Silence did look to have dropped the ball here.
Regardless, Suicide Silence’s self-titled album still requires a fair evaluation, and there’s definitely a couple of plus points that can be pulled fairly easily. The main thing is that the band deserve a lot of credit for such a hard shift out of their comfort zone, and having the mettle to try something different at all; there’s a lot of Deftones and Tool soaked in this album’s DNA, more than enough to wind up any overzealous deathcore fanboys who refuse to admit that anything without a breakdown is good. But lofty ambition only goes so far if you can’t do something with it, and even going into this album with an open mind, there’s precious little to work with. And most frustratingly of all, it’s in pretty much all the same areas that the early singles were getting shut down for that this album falls, particularly with the vocals being as contentious as they are. Yes, clean vocals are a lot more prominent this time around, and while Eddie Hermida isn’t terrible at pulling them off, he really is all over the place more than he should be. Forget the fragments of falsetto in Doris that have already been memed to oblivion, on tracks like Listen or The Zero where he tries to move between singing, screaming and talking, it feels lumpen in a way that this band should know how to avoid by now. There’s such a slapdash quality to these vocals, especially comparing how sloppy they can feel alongside the better moments, like the quieter, more pensive instances on Conformity, or Run which works well as a more conventional metal track.
But the real meat of the matter with Suicide Silence comes in the instrumentation, the area which displays even more dissonance and subsequently, more mixed results. That’s because this is hardly a ‘pick-up-and-go’ album – guitars mangle and contort themselves before dropping out mid-track and re-emerging as a completely different blast of noise. It’s a weird concoction, and painting the exterior with nu-metal touches makes the whole thing feel even more difficult to get to grips with. The clear Korn worship on Doris and Run are the most instantly palatable, but then there’s the bellydragging Deftones B-side of Silence that’s far more unwieldy, or the free-form guitar passages that round off Dying In A Red Room that are borderline unlistenable.
It’s a freakish, almost deranged album, but it’s also compelling for all the wrong reasons. For as much effort as Suicide Silence have gone to to distance this current incarnation from their former selves, and subsequently everything else, what’s left is a body of work that’s truly fascinating, and one that demands work from the listener to really get along with. But while the argument can be made that this is an intentionally obtuse, difficult album, that doesn’t excuse the fact that there are some notable amendments that need to be made here. It’s still messier than it should be, and the fact that that’s a noticeable factor in an album designed to be as leftfield as this, that’s definitely a problem. But considering the turn into truly uncharted territory this album takes, it’s not quite the car crash that many were expecting.
For fans of: Korn, Tool, Deftones
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Suicide Silence’ by Suicide Silence is out now on Nuclear Blast Records.