The nu-metal is strong on Suicide Silence’s latest self-titled release. That means the purists aren’t going to be happy. The rampant use of melody and crystal-clear production are going to drive them insane. If you’re one of these people, I can confirm that it is, at least, still down-tuned all to hell.
Right from the opening of lead single “Doris” there is a marked shift towards a cleaner, more accessible sound with a distorted blues metal riff reminiscent of Motley Crue. Coming from a band which, along with its late former vocalist Mitch Lucker, was for all intents and purposes the flag-bearer for the late 2000s deathcore movement, the new sound is definitely a little jarring. Current frontman Eddie Hermida seems to be purposely avoiding a direct Lucker imitation. This is fine, but his strategy seems to instead be to channel as many nu-metal vocalists as possible, and much of the music follows suit. Gone for the most part are the frenetic speed riffs and machine gun drumming from the No Time to Bleed era. They’ve been replaced with a number of clean passages and chug-alongs that all sound eerily similar to early Korn or Slipknot. Hell, “Silence” could be plopped right in the middle of Iowa and casual listeners probably wouldn’t bat an eyelash.
Despite all this, there are still gems to be found on this record. As much as it sounds more like the Deftones than the Deftones, “Dying in a Red Room” really is a pretty awesome song. It’s unnervingly creepy, especially as it falls apart towards the end and the guitars sound like houseflies circling a corpse. “Conformity,” though it probably sounds too much like radio rock for any fan of the band to abide, is an appropriately naked tongue-in-cheek slow burner, although the hook of “conformity saves us all, conformity is the secret” might be a little too on the nose given much of the material here.
A self-titled record generally serves as a mission statement of sorts, but here Suicide Silence sounds less sure of its own identity than ever before. They’re still capable of crafting a tasty groove, and they’re definitely still several cuts above many of their peers in this very specific niche, but the spark that made The Cleansing and No Time to Bleed real genre-defining classics is mostly missing. Maybe it’s growing pains, and maybe it’s all part and parcel of trying to deal with the still very recent grief of a lost friend. Whatever the deciding factors, here’s hoping that on their next outing they loosen the death-grip on the sounds of their influences and spread their own wings once more.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Lia Davis