REVIEW: SUICIDE SILENCE – “Suicide Silence”
Metalheads are complicated, aren’t they? On the one hand, they are open to listening to a style of music that redefines convention and creeps most people out yet within that boundary, they have the most rigid, orthodox and conservative mindset when it comes to accepting the choices made by their favourite bands to try something different. Deathcore giants Suicide Silence are the latest victims. They have released their fifth album on 24th February via Nuclear Blast records amidst a strong backlash by old fans, even including a petition doing rounds to stop them from releasing it. However, as usually is the case, it has not dented the band members’ confidence and vocalist Eddie Hermida dismissed it merely as acts of seeking attention.
When I received the album for this review, I tried my best to listen to it with an open mind and erase any memories of their previous albums because it was crystal clear from the first two singles released by the band that this album will be very different from any of the stuff they have done before. The album opens up with “Doris” and follows it up with “Silence”. These tracks have been lambasted by fans to no ends and unless you were living under a rock, you would already be aware of the direction the band has taken on this record. If you accept this new direction the band takes, you would be quite happy with this record as the compositions more or less follow this same style throughout the album. If you hated these tracks and already made up your mind about this album, then I doubt you will be reading this review. However, if you are stuck in the middle, like me, who is curious about what could be on offer, read on.
Eddie Hermida’s vocals have been one of the most contentious subjects about this album. Therefore, let me start off with that before moving on to other aspects of this album. We all know Eddie Hermida can growl and we have witnessed it several times with his previous band All Shall Perish and also on the previous album of Suicide Silence ‘You Can’t Stop Me’. On this album, he attempts to transform into an angry psychotic personality alternating between angry screams and nervously clean vocals. At some points, he manages to pull it off but at others, this transition sticks like a pitchfork in a gear, completely jamming the flow of the song. Promising intros and groovy sections on the tracks fail to take off due to this transition. “Dont Be Careful You Might Hurt Yourself” is a classic example. It opens up in style and powers through with some of the trademark elements of Suicide Silence raising your hopes and restoring some faith in the album, but around the 1:30 minute mark, it is completely derailed by Eddie’s transition to clean vocals and from there, the track barely recovers from it, in fact, goes down to a weird territory with Eddie delivering the lyrics in a “spoken word” format. Similarly on “Listen”, Eddie’s switch to “spoken word” vocals makes the track lose its way and falter badly.
The Deftones and Nu-metal influence are very evident not only in the vocals but also the riffs and the overall feel of the tracks. I enjoyed it on tracks like “Hold Me Up Hold Me Down” and “Listen” where it provides interesting dynamics and tempo changes to the track but everywhere else, it sounded bland. The experimentation is not just restricted to the clean vocals and the Nu-metal characteristics as the band also conjures up two ballads in the form of “Dying In A Red Room” and “Conformity”. At this point of time, I am pretty sure, you will check your playlist twice to make sure it is indeed them. Unfortunately, both tracks do not work and on multiple spins, I found myself skipping them.
The album falters a bit on the production front too with several of the heavier moments being a bit diluted, snatching away the “heaviness” the band possessed in their previous avatars. I don’t mind the band incorporating softer and cleaner sections in its compositions, but in this case, it could definitely have been more ambient or atmospheric to engage the listener. There are several moments where you would feel your mind completely disengaged from the track.
To summarize, Suicide Silence take a brave decision of venturing a path which they have not taken before. However, this path itself has been traversed several times in the past and they end up recreating a stale replica of something that has been dead and gone several years ago. Having said that, I feel we shouldn’t write them off completely because who knows they may repair the chinks in their armour and come back stronger than ever in this new avatar. Some sparks do fly on this album but it fails to ignite.