No pity for a coward.
'Become The Hunter,' Suicide Silence's sixth album, reeks of utter cowardice. After all of the hyperbolic talk, aggrandizing interviews, and PR hype-speak the American deathcore/death metal act did back in 2017 around their incredibly divisive and polarising self-titled LP, this new album is an almighty back-pedal. Three years ago, they were fired up about how their last effort was a "real" record recorded to tape as if that'd make up for not writing any good songs, shitting on their peers in Thy Art Is Murder, saying it was the album they were born to make, and self-labeling it despite not clearly sticking with its Korn and Deftones-remiss sound. This all makes this newest LP a gutless return to the style of 'The Black Crown' and 'You Can't Stop Me.' 'Become The Hunter' is a safe, cowardly album for Suicide Silence, with little to show for itself other than a sense of "been there, done that."
The 2:13 instrumental opener of 'Meltdown,' despite its very short length, is an uneventful snooze-fest; murky organs, atmospheric notes, and dark choral harmonics are both placed behind a wall of mindless double-kick patterns and boring metal chugs. Though I suppose it was very kind of Suicide Silence to pre-face this new album with an opening song that would (mostly) tell you all you needed to know about the sound and songwriting of 'Become The Hunter' without having to listen to the rest of it. Thanks, guys! It's obviously meant to be a big opening statement, one that the band can take to any of their annoyed fans who are desperately clamoring for yesteryear and go: "don't worry, everybody, we're back!" Yet it's almost insulting with how little artistic integrity it lacks.
'Two Steps' is a brisker, groovy death metal number, touched up with some chromatic guitar-shredding and a cool divebomb, with vocalist Eddie Hermida manically screeching "I'm two steps away... so why don't you kill me!" Eddie isn't singing or "tee-heeing" anymore - that meme was the only good thing to come out of their last album - and his demonic vocal performance across LP #6 is definitely one of the record's few saving graces. (Even though he was a bit of sex-pest.) Similarly to 'Two Steps,' we have 'In Hiding,' another heavily syncopated, bounce-focused death metal tune. Something that also defines the lyrically and musically repetitive nature of 'Love Me To Death' as well. As you can gather, that is the main bread-and-butter for this album; songs like the audible limp of 'Death's Anxiety' or the savage 'Disaster Valley' that don't progress the band or this album in any meaningful direction.
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'Skin Tight' is like a manic lovesong for serial killers. While the bar isn't set high, the slow drum beats, reverberant screams and detuned guitar chords that start 'Skin Tight' work in tandem to create a darker, more sinister atmosphere than anything else on this full-length. It captures the grotesque feel that the American quintet was clearly setting their sights on with the tone of 'Become The Hunter.' The gloominess heard on 'Skin Tight' nicely continues on in 'The Scythe,' as well as 'Serene Obscene,' which begins with resonate Middle-Eastern toned strings and a chilling acoustic guitar figure, before becoming a mid-tempo, piercing, death metal riff-fest. One that's not half bad, with meaty slams and low growls of "...penance and blood." This trio make up easily the most compelling portion of 'Become The Hunter,' revealing that deep down, Suicide Silence still wants to do different shit. It's sad they're now writing themselves back into a deathcore corner. While their 2017 LP was a disaster, at least it dared to change things up. 'Become The Hunter' may fair better, but not by a large margin.
'Become The Hunter' is better than Suicide Silence's self-titled record, but that's really not saying much at all. Just like the recent material from bands such as Amity Affliction or Machine Head, this new Suicide Silence album is a 180-shift soaked in safety; a return-to-roots styled record that will lazily bring back good-will from many disgruntled fans in a highly pandering manner, blindsiding heavy music writers into thinking that they're back on track, that it's somehow a new high-point for the group. Just watch as the pontification flows from fans and critics alike, saying that they're "listening to their fans" instead of, y'know, trying to grow as artists and as people and stick by what they say and believe in. If Suicide Silence hadn't dropped that accursed, out-of-time, pitchy demo-fest back in 2017, then 'Become The Hunter' wouldn't be as talked up or as praised as it's been so far. For at its mediocre core, it's just a dark, deathcore-aping, death-metal-centric album, featuring no songs that are as strong as the bands earlier works, other than some cool screams and the odd decent riff or groove section. While it's heavier, and while it sure sounds like older Suicide Silence, that doesn't make it good. Not by a long shot.
Love Me To Death
Become The Hunter
'Become The Hunter' is out Friday, February 14th: