When analyzing art, it is important to keep both the artist’s experience in creating the art and the experience of the consumer absorbing the art in mind. Often times, an artist’s vision can be obscured by our view point and we can lose sight of what was meant to be gained from the experience. On the other side, regardless of what an artist’s intent may be, the consumer has every right to like or dislike something based on their own personal preference. There’s even the possibility that you can completely understand where the creator of art is coming from and appreciate their intent and artistic integrity, but think that the art itself isn’t something remotely enjoyable. In this middle ground of understanding and distaste for what is understood, we find the new self-titled Suicide Silence album nestled quite comfortably.
If you’re a fan of the band or just some random passerby peering into deathcore’s shop window, you’ve probably heard the opening track of this album. “Doris” is an exercise in how people can say a song does absolutely nothing for them while also seeing how many people who like it can attempt to break down every single individual band member’s performance and discuss what makes it a good song to them. For this review, we’re going with it doing absolutely nothing. Honestly, that’s this whole album in one sentence. Sitting through this record is far beyond a chore and if you do it, you’d be doing everyone else a favor by telling them that unless they’re truly and incurably curious, it is not worth their time.
In a recent interview with the band, vocalist Eddie Hermida talked about the band straying away from writing crazy things and exploring more ethereal sounds. On this album, the ethereal sounds really don’t amount to anything interesting or important. Any sense of atmosphere or the ethereal is cut down by arrangements that meander without really going anywhere at all, in-studio sound bites that yank you from any sense of immersion in the music and an intense feeling that this album was meant to be taken way more seriously than the content it presents allows you to. There’s no need to discuss individual songs as they all go the same way: They start with a semi-interesting guitar part, they completely abandon it and use the most bland riffs possible while Eddie just goes all over the place vocally until the song ends leaving you feel underwhelmed. Oh yeah, sometimes there’s a breakdown or a whistling solo accompanied by mouth harp (yes, really) and guitar distortion. There is nothing worse than joining everyone else bashing a group’s hard work, but it seems that there is no other recourse. It even would seem this was the group’s intent, where they sought for listeners to have some sort of reaction to the music that they thought would lead to the listener being uncomfortable with what was being played. Not sure if they made the music extremely hard to listen to because of that or if it was merely a symptom of that mentality.
Going into this record, there was hope that something genuinely interesting and inspiring would come from a band straying so far off the path that they’ve walked for years. That ultimately didn’t happen for a lot of listeners, but it did happen for the band. In this interview the group discuss how they stopped caring about what people thought which is what allowed them to make this album. The group wanted to do something out of the box that challenged them as musicians, which was assisted by legendary producer Ross Robinson who has brought us legendary albums from Slipknot, Korn and At The Drive In. Hearing Eddie talk about how recording his vocal parts, which seem to be the most criticized part of their new sound, were incredibly therapeutic for him not just as an artist but as a person is something you’d be hard pressed to crucify him for.
In their most recent interview, Eddie even talks about how making art to be a part of an industry isn’t why he started playing music and that’s the reason why he was attracted to metal in the first place. He also discusses one of the standout lyrics from the last song of the album “Don’t Be Careful You Might Hurt Yourself”, those lyrics being “Somehow it’s safe to fail.” So the question is, should Suicide Silence be praised for making something they truly wanted to make and being true to themselves or punished for making music that is borderline unacceptable and almost always grating?
In short, the answer is both. To elaborate, the band should absolutely be celebrated for their willingness to stick to their artistic vision and step outside of their comfort zone while taking their listeners with them. This album is a triumph for them because it sees them overcoming any fear of judgement or inability to step outside the bounds of what is readily accepted. Nobody should be shamed for freeing themselves from their creative shackles and pushing themselves to do something they truly stand behind instead of pandering to an audience. This is how some of the best albums were made. However, this album is not full of music that deserves to be lauded or praised. It comes off as amateur, underwritten and not fit to be sold to any sort of audience, much less your fans who trust you to have at least some of their interests at heart. This is an album that realistically should have been made in private and used as a stepping stone to work towards something that could be considered well made, but since the group spent time and effort on it, they also felt the need to send it stumbling into the light as it’s eyes burn from the brightness of the sun. It’s a bit like releasing tapes of your primal scream therapy sessions. While the experience may have been moving and revelatory for you, what does it offer the rest of us?
So, while understanding the artist’s intent to push the listener and themselves and acknowledging that it’s an admirable attempt, the music they did it with was not well written or deserving of any sort of praise. Hopefully Suicide Silence can take the inspiration and newfound sense of artistic freedom they’ve acquired and make a followup record that’s a bit easier on the ears.
Sidenote: The 360 degree videos and interviews are a horrible idea. Please stop the production of these unnecessary 360 degree videos.
Suicide Silence will be available on 2/24 via Nuclear Blast, and can be pre-ordered here.