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Suicide Silence: 'Suicide Silence'
Released 24th February 2017 (Nuclear Blast)

21st February 2017

Luke Loki Milne
Words: Luke Milne

suicide silence

It must be a weird time to be a band member of Suicide Silence right now. With the American deathcore band due to release their self-titled fifth studio album later this week, it's fair to say that the band (and their as yet unreleased album) have been tossed around something of a media shitstorm in recent months. I'd be fairly impressed if you've managed to completely avoid the buzz surrounding their upcoming release, but in case you have, here's a refresher for you.

Around September of 2012, Suicide Silence left the arms of Century Media having released one of the label's best selling debut albums up to that point, along with two follow-up albums that both reached Top Ten positions in the Hard Rock Charts. Opting to jump into bed with Nuclear Blast under a new deal, CEO Markus Staiger cited at the time that Suicide Silence were "one of the most brutal bands on Earth".

Sadly, lead vocalist and founding member Mitch Lucker would see only a few short moments of the band's progression under Nuclear Blast, passing away on November 1st of the same year due to a motorcycle accident. It would be another two years before Suicide Silence would release 'You Can't Stop Me', the comeback album which featured vocals from newly-appointed frontman Hernan 'Eddie' Hermida. In terms of chart position, their 2014 release marked the bands greatest achievement to date, hitting the Top Five of the Rock and Hard Rock charts upon release.

Fast forward to December 2016 and Suicide Silence announce their next release, marking that their upcoming studio album would feature 70% clean vocals, representing a statement of identity from Hermida. Fans cautiously questioned the band's decision to move to clean vocals and were met with the release of two lead singles, 'Doris' in January of this year and 'Silence' at the start of this month.

Here's where it gets a little sticky...

You see, around the same time, Disney's very own pocket rock band Nickelback shocked music fans with the release of their riff-tastic single 'Feed The Machine'. Even though Chad Kroeger et al. have absolutely SOD ALL involvement with the deathcore scene, media outlets lunged into a click-hungry frenzy. Shunting the two bands side-by-side, comparative articles emerged screaming to the heavens that Nickelback had become heavier than Suicide Silence, whose two lead singles showcased a much more subdued style than previous material.

This, by the way, is utter horse shit. Granted, Nickelback's new track moves through much heavier territory than their usual affairs, but sizing them up against Suicide Silence is like comparing a handjob from your missus to a blowjob from her sister – they're both very different, enjoyable experiences... and you'll probably try to avoid admitting that you (really, really) liked one of them.

By the by, fans reacted in a way that the band may not have hoped. In an attempt to boycott the album's release, a small pocket of fans have petitioned to Nuclear Blast to have the album's launch halted entirely. We're talking really small here, with the petition netting less than 5,000 supporters when last I checked and it's fairly certain this won't make a dent on the label's decision to release the album, and the whole affair screams 'kid throwing toys out of pram', but it still demonstrates the backlash that's surrounded the band's upcoming release.

Hermida hasn't really helped to smooth things over with fans, either. On the subject of the band's change in artistic direction, he's previously commented that the band have "stopped giving a fuck", and labelled the elitist Metal community as "patch-wearing fucking weirdos". He's most recently lashed out at Thy Art Is Murder for writing "the same song[s] they wrote on their last record". This prompted a response from the Australian act, and we've most recently been witnessing a tennis match bitch fight between two bands who should probably know better.

Even if it is just a press stunt, it's been kind of irritating to watch something so petty unfolding over social media and clogging up my usually calm and entertaining feed of cat videos.

Fuck it, let's just cut to the wire. This latest release from Suicide Silence has been whipping up an absolute hurricane of attention. Regardless of positives or negatives, it seems everyone's talking about it and as such I felt compelled to grab a copy of the album to see for myself whether or not the damning, negative and frankly sensationalist journalism I've seen over the past weeks and months would be proven weightless; something I find often to be the case.

Truth be told, Suicide Silence's fifth studio album will most likely cause some initial discomfort to long-standing, hardcore fans of the signature sound they've developed over the past fifteen years. Hermida wasn't kidding when he said that the album would feature 70% clean vocals, and it definitely feels like a change in direction for the band, though perhaps one not quite as shocking once the dust has settled.

It may not be a typical romp through the known soundscape of Suicide Silence, but I'd actually side with Hermida on his recent poke at bands that churn out the same material time and time again. Let's face it, with the differing vocal attributes of Hermida over Lucker, it should come as no surprise that the band have opted to tweak their style, and what's presented in Suicide Silence's self-titled release isn't bad by any stretch.

There's a different kind of enjoyment to be found in the album's nine tracks, each which sit above the four to five minute mark and showcase a varying palette of emotion and colour. In many cases, the decision to lean towards a clean vocal presence on tracks conjures up a dark, unsettling tension that breathes life into the more subdued tracks like 'Silence' and 'Listen'.

Though undeniably toned down in scale, the aggression in Suicide Silence's latest release seems to ebb and flow through the album's course, with the calmer waters of 'Dying In A Red Room' and 'Conformity' nestled between decidedly more agitated offerings to grant listeners a chilling, dreamlike reprieve. Don't be fooled, however, as the album's midpoint soars with the arrival of the grinding, comparatively hulking sound of 'Hold Me Up Hold Me Down', and again with the closing track 'Don't Be Careful You Might Hurt Yourself', which shares this playpen of hard, chunky vigour.

Though I found enjoyment in their latest album, it's clear that it reaches for a different audience, and whether this release marks a complete swerve in direction for the American act remains to be seen. What's clear is that this release may cause unrest among die-hard fans that are stuck in their ways and reluctant to branch out from the norm. As fictional speccy weirdo Garth Algar so eloquently put it in the 1992 classic 'Wayne's World', we fear change. For long-standing fans of Suicide Silence, that's pretty much going to be the overarching theme of this album.

And yet, I'd urge you to set aside your preconceptions of Suicide Silence as you've known them, grab a few beers and/or other vices (ahem...) and sit this one from start to finish with a fresh mindset. This is no easy task, but once you do you'll be treated to a full-bodied musical experience, one swelling with grit, tension and a plethora of emotion. It's an experience that may pull existing fans away from their comfort zone and challenge them with something new, and I'd imagine that this is entirely what Hermida meant when he called the album "a statement".

It's a bold, dangerous statement, to be sure, and whether or not it will pay off remains to be seen, but it does feel as though the band are moving forward from Lucker's passing and marching on into new territory. Suicide Silence's eponymous fifth studio release is not what you might expect, this much is true, and it launches the band into somewhat unfamiliar ground, but if Van Gogh had painted in the same style over and over again, he'd probably have gone fucking mental and chopped his ear off to give to a prosti...

Oh wait, that actually happened.

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Check out more of Luke Milne right here and listen to previous editions of The Sunday Slam With Luke Milne right here.


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