Trying to brave the storm - A review of Suicide Silence's ''Suicide Silence''
Suicide Silence's self-titled fifth studio record is already the most controversial record of the year. The band shifted away from its famous deathcore roots and released an album somewhere between alternative metal inspired by KoRn, melodic death metal in the key of modern In Flames and experimental rock reminding of Deftones. The backlash against this release was abominable as the album sold two thirds less than the previous output, critics were almost unanimously negative and fans harshly criticized the record and the band on several social media platforms. The negative comments went so far that the band members felt the need to fight back and justify the experimental record by criticizing large parts of their own fan base. In a certain way, both sides are wrong to react in such a nasty way. Fans have to realize that they cannot decide or influence what a band should do or not since the artists have to do what feels right to them no matter what and disappointed fans should simply voice their disapproval by not buying said record or not attending the band's concerts instead of spreading hatred on the internet and mocking the band members and the few chosen ones that genuinely like the new album. On the other side, the band members' reactions were overtly sensitive and showed a worrying lack of self-confidence. If you have to defend your new album repeatedly with sarcastic comments, it doesn't really prove you right and shows that you can't deal with criticism efficiently. All those negative incidents show everything that is wrong with social media these days where anyone can voice anything behind the shadows of anonymity. There isn't anything positive about cowardly shitstorms provoking exaggerated reactions. On the other side, the whole discussion still made me curious and that's why I ultimately listened to an album I probably wouldn't have checked out otherwise.
As always, the truth lies somewhere in between the extremes. Suicide Silence isn't the abomination haters are trying to make us believe and it isn't a brave new direction either as the band seems to promote. To be honest, this album is quite an oddball but somehow an authentic and entertaining one.
From an objective point of view, there are many things that are wrong with this record. The production is muddy and sounds like a demo recorded in a garage. The distorted guitar sounds are sometimes nerve-firing. The bass guitar is often inaudible. The drum sound is quite tinny. The new clean vocals are often out of tone, the death growls remind me of a dying pig in the better moments and the higher screams are highly emotional but sound completely uncontrolled from a technical point of view. The whiny lyrics aren't my cup of tea either. The song structures are awkward. Whenever a solid riff kicks in, the band avorts any type of dynamism with unnecessary breakdowns or unrelated smooth interludes. Sometimes a song seems to be finished but the band suddenly adds thirty seconds of distorted riffs and whiny screams for no valid reason. That's why several songs feel like unfinished demos and still sound somewhat directionless. From time to time, discussions between the band members can be heard at the end of some songs to evoke a certain live in studio feeling but since this is only done with a few select songs, these passages feel oddly out of place.
Despite all these negative elements, I have always prefered emotional authenticity over technical ecstasy and that's why I ultimately like some parts of this unpredictable album. I also respect the band for having the guts for trying to explore new soundscapes even though other bands have already explored very similar styles. I must admit that I like the fragile clean vocals in the uncompromising ''Doris'' and the oppressive atmosphere of the surprisingly catchy ''Silence''. Other songs need a lot of time to open up like the incoherent ''Listen'' that sacrifices any hint at a coherent structure for intense emotionality or the unusual album closer ''Don't Be Careful, You Might Hurt Yourself'' that experiments with almost drone-like noise sounds before ending with an irritatingly joyful whistling. After a few spins, this uncompromising emotionality somehow grew on me. I wouldn't say that the record made me feel empathic but I ended up being strangely fascinated by this deranged offering. It certainly has a strong entertaining value and the emotionality is gripping throughout the nine songs and a running time of forty-four minutes. To keep it short, this album definitely has a soul and its guiding line is its nonconformity, as strange as it may sound.
Would I buy such an album? Yes, I would because it's entertaining and facsinating and because I feel the band needs some support after much unjustified hatred coming from mostly selfish keyboard warriors. Would I regularly listen to this release? No, I wouldn't because it's fascinating from time to time and has even grown on me but it's still too inaccessible after all to deserve regular spins. Would I recommend this release to those who are reading my review? No, I wouldn't but I would simply suggest to give this record a chance by listening to it in its entirety on separate occasions before making up your mind about a final judgement. In the end, this record is comparable to Metallica's St. Anger and Morbid Angel's Illud Divinum Insanus that were equally experimental and received similar negative reactions. I don't know what's wrong with me but I somehow like all three albums for what they are.
Final rating: 7/10« My perfect alarm clockConcerts in Ottawa in 2017: Wild Side, Iron Reagan and Power Trip at The Brass Monkey »
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