Why are Suicide Silence so maligned? It’s a question that puzzles. The fact that Encyclopaedia Metallum refuse to acknowledge them because they play deathcore is snobbery of the highest order. Yes, they’ve made mistakes. We can blame them for sowing the seeds of the nu metal revival on their 2011 album, The Black Crown. They even released a nu metal record in 2017, which would alienate their fanbase to the point of petitioning for it to be withdrawn. But these Californians are not interlopers. Their first two releases mixed grindcore, brutal death metal and hardcore. Late vocalist, Mitch Lucker (1984-2012), could outshine anyone in the extremity stakes. 2020’s Become the Hunter is heavier than the metaphysical concept of shame. So, why does it feel like their latest effort is yet another test of their integrity after their return to form three years ago?
If they fought for their career on Become the Hunter, they know this album is their chance to save it. Look around you: the band’s influence on modern deathcore is evident. Vocalist, Eddie Hermida, leaves no traces of his nu metal relapse on this record. Opener, ‘You Must Die’, sees red, but these are the red-flashing audio dashboards that cannot handle the decibel levels coming from the guitar amps. Pounding drums, malevolent scream vocals, and chugging guitars coordinate the attack in one violent bombardment. Imagine Pig Destroyer covering Slipknot with syncopated death metal riffs.
Hermida’s performance on ‘Capable of Violence (N.F.W.)’ is unhinged and unconcerned with what others think. He digs deep into his consciousness to find a visceral voice that can match the intensity of the music. We’d be celebrating with high fives if the next Sepultura or Soulfly record unleashed the same forces. It’s clear that all five band members share the same vision here to be as heavy as possible. That means no alter-ego ruminations, no contrasting dynamics, no melancholia. Just pure fucking deathcore as it ought to sound. Hermida’s ear-piercing screams will make you flinch.
Hostility levels reach annihilation point on ‘Fucked for Life’ and ‘The Third Death’. The former looks to Machine Head’s Burn My Eyes for inspiration but furnishes it with an extra armoury of frantic drum work and extreme metal phonation. Close your eyes and lead single ‘Alter of Self’ could be a modern hardcore band using the double-kick drum grooves of death metal. In hindsight, you can see now what Pantera wanted to achieve on The Great Southern Trendkill. ‘God be Damned’ shows that Suicide Silence understood this as well. You can mix blast beats and tremolo picking with syncopated grooves and chaotic solos.
Deathcore has come a long way since the early MySpace “scene” days of Carnifex, Whitechapel and Bring me the Horizon. Suicide Silence were always the heaviest of the bunch, and they want you to remember that. It’s no secret that they went back to their 2007 debut to reconfigure their sound on this record. ‘Be Deceived’ and ‘Dying Life’ could be on any of their first three albums, which might explain why they feel like fillers. But only a masochist would call the last third of this record a comfort zone. They make you work for the downward chug of the guitars rather than feed you with an overdose of them.
Perhaps the band’s only mistake is to approach this record as a back-to-basics recovery operation. But the scars of 2017 will take time to heal. They once felt jaded and unsure of their future. Now, Suicide Silence can breathe fire again. They’ll continue to divide the metal establishment, but we must ask why music as ferocious as this receives only a fraction of the praise it deserves.
Release Date: 10/03/2023
Record Label: Century Media
Standout tracks: You Must Die, Capable of Violence (N.F.W.), Alter of Self
Suggested Further Listening: Impending Doom – Hellbent EP (2022), Lamb of God – Omens (2022), Ingested – Ashes Lie Still (2022)