Suicide Silence – The Black Crown

Categories: Reviews
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Published on: August 12, 2011

Without being a fan of Suicide Silence, or the “deathcore” scene, I knew exactly who they were because bands like this are impossible to ignore. I have not flipped through a music mag in the past two months without seeing vocalist Mitch Lucker’s neck tats, and I’d need at least four hands to count the number of SS shirts I spotted at Summer Slaughter. Although metal elitists (like myself) have prematurely sentenced this band to be viciously trolled, Suicide Silence, formed in 2002, haven’t earned such a widespread fan base for no reason. Pushing all bias aside, I was curious to hear just what it was that sold 14.000 copies of The Black Crown in its first week.

Right off the bat, I want to point out the obvious nu-metal element throughout The Black Crown. When I say “element,” I don’t mean this is a “nu-metal album” or “this is a nu-metal band.” I mean that there are things like tons of breakdowns, down-tuned guitars and extremely distorted vocals.  For example, Jonathan Davis of Korn appears as a guest vocalist on “Witness the Addiction.” This certainly does not help the anti nu-metal case. “Witness the Addiction” begins like a Suicide Silence song, but, as it progresses, could have come straight off Korn III. I’ll get this song out of the way now: skip over this. It doesn’t belong on The Black Crown. Although Davis provides some vocal variety, his presence and signature sound scream HI THIS IS NU-METAL.

The first track, “Slave to Substance,” is decently heavy, but not a promising beginning. It feels like an extended four-minute breakdown. The energy is there, but a more impressive opening would be crucial for any album to really kill it.

Although The Black Crown doesn’t feature any flooring guitar work, the riffs are decent and most importantly consistent. There are a few moments of melodic riffing, something The Black Crown severely lacks and needs more of. I also have to comment on the steady, machine-gun drumming, which doesn’t waver once throughout the album. This guy is good.

“You Only Live Once” and “Fuck Everything” seem like the hellraising anthems of this release, with rousing yet generic choruses (‘Fuck everything! Fuck everything!’). I foresee moshing and more moshing. Songs like this are cool because they’re actually fun, and a nice change of pace from the standard “I hate _____.”

The interlude, and sole reference to the album title, is “March to the Black Crown.” This is where Suicide Silence exhibits what I like to call the “Mork Gryning Effect.” This should have been seven minutes long, and I have to admit I really liked it. It shows off the musicality, variety and responsible use of synth that this band is capable of.

I was surprised to see Frank Mullen of Suffocation appear on “Smashed.” This was the only track that featured the bestial growling I had expected after hearing multiple times what a hardcore vocalist Lucker is. Unlike the addition of Davis, Mullen is a fitting choice; it’s clearly still a Suicide Silence song. “Smashed” also offers a pretty decent guitar solo, and solid, sludgy riffs. This song is legit.

One problem I have with this album is the lyrical content. I know, the words are indecipherable 90% of the time, and metal lyrics aren’t exactly expected to read like a Pynchon novel. But from what you can understand, Lucker could benefit from a thesaurus (‘put your fingers in the fucking air/and live your life without a care’). I also wasn’t impressed with his vocals, which were definitely elevated and gritty but not what I would call brutal. That lack of power knocked The Black Crown down a few notches.

This is a decent album for (I hate using this word) any deathcore fan. It’s a solid effort, but nothing to go crazy about. These guys seem like good musicians, if they pushed themselves a little harder and threw in more variety, and continued to mess around with more death metal elements, they have the potential to break through to a different audience. Hopefully “Witness the Addiction” is a one shot deal.

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