S/T by Suicide Silence
Genre: Alternative Metal
Favorite Tracks: “Dying in a Red Room,” “Run”
Reviewing Suicide Silence’s fifth album is a bit like reviewing 2016’s GHOSTBUSTERS. It started off as a simple piece of entertainment, but it quickly became a symbol of something far bigger and far more stupid, and people judged the whole piece immediately based on a few lackluster trailers or singles. None of this is an endorsement of quality on either of their parts, but the hate they have gotten is from a lot of people who have only tasted snippets of each course, rather than the whole meal.
If you aren’t familiar with the debacle behind SUICIDE SILENCE, you can read the full story here. In short, Suicide Silence were a competent if somewhat generic deathcore band that have made a sudden turn into nu-metal influence. There are a lot more clean vocals, less blast beat drums, and far more attempts at a sinister, Korn-esque mood. The end result shows flashes of consistency, but Suicide Silence still has little grasp on what makes for enthralling alt-metal, and the wildly divergent performances from the band indicate a lack of much needed cohesion.
SUICIDE SILENCE has trained at the Deftones school of alt metal. Such a school emphasizes the power of opposites; miserable, depressing lows paired with reverb-soaked guitar picks, timed drums, and distant, melancholic vocals, juxtaposed with the angry highs of chugging, compressed riffs over howling vocals. It’s a incredibly well-worn set of musical clothes that only the most charismatic model can effortlessly pull off, but Suicide Silence does nothing effortlessly on this record. Every contrasting passage feels so forced, and every quiet vocal makes the lead singer sound so uncomfortable and pained, and not in a way that feels intentional.
The only nightmare that this record produces is the image of the band laying out the compositions for it like a crazed movie conspirator, connecting pieces of paper with pins and pieces of strings. There’s an overabundance of glitchy effects and vocal filters, and songs just go quiet and get louder seemingly at a whim. At times they will cut out for apparent dramatic effect, but the only effect it produces is utter confusion. All of this could be overlooked if there was enough manic energy to transform these random, purposeless incidents into spontaneous, heat-of-the-moment choices, but the tempos are way too slow and the limp drumwork pales in comparison to the thunderous blast beats the band has used beforehand.
Many of the best moments on the record are when the band stays focused and either produces a return to their deathcore roots or a more consistent alt-metal track. Despite the unnecessary vocal filter on the chorus, “Run” is a surprisingly catchy tune that feels much smoother compositionally than anything else on the record, and “Dying in a Red Room” is the only song with effective ambience thanks to crackling bass and complex yet understated drum work. However, while lyricism didn’t matter when no one could make out what the words were on their previous work, the decision to have a majority of clean vocals means the lyrics are now under the microscope, and the results are not pretty.
This should have been a four or five song EP, because much of what is here feels unfinished, with Hermida not delivering the vocals the new songs required of him. The band does not feel comfortable with making such a huge transition, and not even the generally solid, robust guitar performances can save it. For a style and sound that needs to sound natural and fluid, that’s a major issue. It’s not as horrible as the initial backlash it has received, but it’s still likely to go down as an easily avoidable misstep in Suicide Silence’s career.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend