I always get excited when I see Ross Robinson’s name attached to a new project. Robinson’s production methods and recording style helped to fashion the sound of “nu-metal,” a genre that shaped my and many others’ interest in metal music. Robinson is credited with helping jumpstart the careers of Korn, Slipknot and, for better or worse, Limp Bizkit. I always admired the raw quality in the albums he’s worked on, and the honesty he’s able to wring out of the musicians he works with.
So when I heard that California deathcore band Suicide Silence would be working with Robinson, I was again excited. Fans of the band are well aware of the influence early nu-metal records from Korn and the Deftones had at the beginning of their career. It seemed like a match in music heaven, disciples of this era of aggressive music recording working with the wise sensei partially responsible for the genre’s inception.
Unfortunately, Suicide Silence is a mess.
Beginning with opening track and first single “Doris,” the record demonstrates clearly that the band shifted away from their traditional trem-picked, blast-beaten deathcore sound in favor of a more bass-driven, chugging riff style reminiscent of their elders Korn. Despite the harsh internet backlash for “Doris,” I don’t find much about it too offensive. It’s one of the better tracks on the record. It’s heavy, with a hint of Deftones-like melody in the clean singing on the chorus. It’s by no stretch perfect, though.
There’s not a complete song on the record that knocks it out if the park. Bits and pieces of each song are gritty, heavy and emotional, while others come off as corny, forced or even uninspired.
For example, vocalist Eddie Hermida delivers some of his finest guttural and high screamed vocals on the breakdown section of “Hold Me Up, Hold Me Down.” However, that ending section drags on for almost two minutes and is introduced with a riff so buried in effects that it takes the listener right out of the song. On tracks where there’s good song structure and catchy melody, oddly delivered vocal lines pierce your ear like on “Doris” and “Conformity.” I can’t say enough how much of a disappointment “Conformity” was; it builds from an soft acoustic and clean-sung intro into a soulful solo section, but the vocal delivery is truly rough to listen to. And the moments where all hell feels like it’s about to bust from your headphones, like the heavy moments on “Listen” and “Don’t Be Careful, You Might Get Hurt,” end far too abruptly, in favor of transitioning into another slow-and-low riff or even just the end of the song.
I get what the band tried to do here, and it’s a shame they couldn’t pull it off. It would’ve been nice to see a more styled melding of their deathcore roots and Robinson’s emotion-driven nu-metal production influence. It didn’t quite happen here though, and while it made for an interesting and at times enjoyable experiment, it’s not one that’s worth your attention past a few listens.