Suicide Silence’s Sonic Overhaul
The American metallers’ frontman Eddie Hermida on rejigging their sound and why it’s important to make music that affects people
As far as deathcore goes, its trendiness has waned ever since it broke out around 2006, and it’s always the forerunners who know when it’s overdone. Suicide Silence’s vocalist Eddie Hermida says over the phone, “You hit the high point. Why would you ever try to do that same thing again?”
The Californian band came into the spotlight for introducing the style that came to be known as deathcore on 2007’s The Cleansing and championed it for three more well-received albums, even overcoming the death of their vocalist Mitch Lucker in 2012, recruiting Hermida and releasing You Can’t Stop Me in 2014. Hermida says, “The band was already moving away from traditional deathcore sounds. They wrote one of the best traditional deathcore records, people loved it, and that’s it.”
Even if Lucker was alive and growling, Hermida says Suicide Silence was “destined to make” the decision to include clean vocals on 70 percent of their upcoming selftitled fifth album, due on Nuclear Blast on February 24th. Their deathcore peers Whitechapel, too, tried their hand at clean vocals on their 2016 album Mark of the Blade, but Hermida is quick to dismiss it. “I’m sorry, they’re my friends, but if that’s an experiment, then they failed horribly. They kept it safe, they did a very safe song that everybody likes but that’s not really memorable.”
Suicide Silence’s main goal on their new album is to be memorable, and when their lead single “Doris” released last month, it got downvoted like hell. Fans were pissed that they’d ditched thick riffs for noisier guitar portions and much rawer, visceral vocals. Says Hermida, “It challenges your thoughts of what you believe deathcore is, and that’s going to always get a polarized reaction by fans. Those are all reactions we wanted. We want people to feel extreme. If people are ‘whatever’ about the record, we’ve failed.”
The nine-track Suicide Silence features the band at their most experimental up until now. Hermida cites influences such as Mr. Bungle and singer-composer Mike Patton, saying, “Even if you hate it, it’s going to be something that affects you. That’s way more important than doing something safe.” There are influences also of death metal, grindcore and thrash metal. He adds, “You have songs that are 100 percent singing and songs that have no singing at all. They’re all really long songs, but they don’t feel long. Every song is different from the other. They all have one similarity and there is a very Suicide Silence sound and a Ross Robinson sound out of everything.”
He’s talking about producer and the limit- pusher that’s often cited as the godfather of nu-metal. Robinson has worked to produce the most seminal records by the likes of Korn, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot. But Hermida notes that Robinson isn’t the taskmaster he’s often made out to be. “The best part about Ross is that he’s really in tune with himself. He wakes up every day as if it’s his first day on earth. If you can really fall into that and forget who you think you are and be in the moment and listen to music, you can get the best take,” says Hermida. Over 60 days (and the vocalist admits they spent a lot of money on the record), Robinson made Suicide Silence understand why they were making music, and “question where the fuck you came from.” Hermida adds, “People don’t want to remember where they came from. I came from being made fun of because I had a different name. Holy shit, that hurts. So yeah, it’s really difficult but I don’t do music to have it easy in life. I do music because it’s supposed to embody what life can be.”
This might just be the message that people need to hear Suicide Silence deliver on stage. The change in their sound might also mean they inadvertently get invited to perform at more, and diverse festivals. But until then, they’ve set up a release tour, where they’ll play alongside emerging artist Plague Vendor and metalhead-turned-electronic music producer Cameron Argon. “He’s going to be spinning his own stuff and our record and we’re going to be lounging with the fans, hanging out and lettings them ask questions and having them say whatever the fuck they want to say,” Hermida says.
Suicide Silence performs at Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio on May 21st, 2017. Details here.