Suicide Silence’s Suicide Silence: The MetalSucks Review
The criticism we keep hearing lobbed against Suicide Silence, mostly by people who haven’t even heard the entire thing yet, is that it’s not a deathcore album, but, rather, a failed attempt at making mainstream radio rock. This assertion is, frankly, horse shit. Suicide Silence isn’t a deathcore album… but it’s DEFINITELY not a failed attempt at making something mainstream. Eddie Hermida’s singing isn’t soaked in auto-tune, and is, in fact, often barely on-key; the band frequently utilizes unusual song structures and foregoes traditional hooks; the only songs which might qualify as a ballad, “Dying in a Red Room” and “Conformity,” screw with expectations developed by more traditional work. The members of Suicide Silence would have to be deaf to consider this their Subliminal Verses or City of Evil.
Nine tracks in forty-five minutes with no breaks in-between songs, Suicide Silence is a weird art-metal album, more comparable to Metallica’s infamous failed experiments, St. Anger and Lulu, than it is to records where the bands were too-self-consciously attempting to leap to “the next level,” like Shadows Fall’s Threads of Life or Atreyu’s Lead Sails and a Paper Anchor. But unlike St. Anger or Lulu, Suicide Silence succeeds more often than it fails, and never stumbles into self-parody.
The album pairs the band for the first time with producer Ross Robinson, who brought his Iow–A game: Suicide Silence was recorded to analog tape, live in the studio, with no click tracks or samples, and so the whole thing feels (deliberately) crude and chaotic. The primary influences are various 90s alt, nu, and death metal artists — Korn, Cannibal Corpse, Deftones, and Mike Patton being the most obvious — but on tracks like “Listen” and “Run,” they all get blended together in sometimes bizarre and always interesting ways. Suicide Silence have never sounded this genuinely deranged. Admittedly, the album’s strongest song is its most unabashedly heavy one: “Hold Me Up, Hold Me Down” (which probably would have made a great first single if the band was looking to avoid controversy). But even that song would probably sound out of place on any other Suicide Silence release.
Robinson also brings out the best in the band members’ individual performances. Drummer Alex Lopez brings a greater sense of swing to the table than he ever has in the past, and Mark Heylmun’s solos on songs like “The Zero” and “Conformity” are relatively simple but undeniably powerful (think Zim Zum’s solo on Marilyn Manson’s “Fundamentally Loathsome”). The real standout here, though, is Hermida, who frequently seems to have recorded his vocals mid-nervous breakdown; he demonstrates far more range here than he ever has before, and takes some major risks, really laying himself bare for the listener. Maybe you dig what he does and maybe you don’t, but there’s no denying that it’s brave, and highly preferable to the homogenized, computerized shit that increasingly passes for metal vocals in the modern era.
“Tell me it’s okay to fail!” Hermida bellows on Suicide Silence‘s closing track, “Don’t Be Careful You Might Get Hurt.” I don’t think Suicide Silence have failed here, but I hope they’ve learned that it’s okay to experiment, maybe stumble a little, and piss off some fans. I’m not sure that Suicide Silence is a great record, but it’s certainly a good one, and it took balls to make it. You don’t have to like Suicide Silence, but you can’t dismiss it, and you must respect it.