Suicide Silence – The Black Crown (2011)

Posted: July 15, 2011 in Music

Deathcore is very hit or miss for me. There are so many bands in the scene these days, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who and what’s what. While it is definitely not my strongest area of attention or expertise, there have been a few solid releases this year that we’ve reviewed. New efforts from Whitechapel and Here Comes The Kraken have gotten their deserved ink, and with heavy-hitters Suicide Silence unleashing The Black Crown July 12th, I figured it was ink-worthy as well.

Before we go any further, I have to admit not being a huge fan of these guys. I know they have built a strong following amongst the scene kids over the last handful of years, and I respect the fact that they tour their asses off – but I could just never get into them. It just sounded all too familiar, and for my money, there were better bands out there doing the same thing just a little better.

But one thing I have noticed over their career was that each release was better than the last, so I wasn’t going to let my complacent attitude deter me from at least listening to The Black Crown. Keeping an open mind is crucial to any reviewer’s credibility, so with that in mind, we gave this baby a spin.

Immediately, it was noticeable that the production was vastly improved. That alone was a surprise, as the band’s first two releases, The Cleansing (2007) and No Time To Bleed (2009) were produced by legendary names John Travis and Machine respectively. This time around, the band put Steve Evetts at the helm. Evetts might not be the “it” producer today, but his work with such bands as Dillinger Escape Plan, Sick Of It All, Symphony X, Hatebreed and countless others has been groundbreaking. The work done here might actually be his best yet, and the fact that the band has never sounded better on disc is not a coincidence.

The band succeeds here in, again, improving their overall sound over their last effort. The Black Crown is filled with the typical blast beats and growls and screams, but I noticed something this time around that either wasn’t there on previously releases or I didn’t care enough to notice. The new twist – at least for me – is that this band is experimenting with some technical aspects on this album that definitely separate them from the herd.

It’s not overbearing, and the band hasn’t changed styles or anything severe like that – but it is definitely there. And I like it. It’s enormously difficult to deal with the changes in time signatures and shifts in tempo that technical metal presents – and I give the band credit for expanding a little here and there.

As far as the overall experience here, Suicide Silence has obviously been practicing. Musically, they are as strong as ever, and if you have the penchant for chugga-chugga riffs and insane breakdowns, you won’t be disappointed. But keep your ears open throughout, as there are some softer, hidden layers throughout that are as unique as they are entertaining.

A couple of guest vocal appearances add a little something extra to this release. Johnathon Davis of Korn steps in, as strange as it sounds, on “Witness the Addiction,” and the unequalled frontman of Suffocation, Frank Mullen, kills it on “Smashed.”

But since we’re talking about vocals, it must be stated that Mitch Lucker needs to get better when it comes to writing them. Deathcore lyrics are, admittedly, not gravely important, but if you’re screaming stuff that is actually understandable, it needs to pack a little more punch. Granted, the band hasn’t been around long enough to draw upon too many serious experiences, but I still think there is a lot of room for improvement here. It doesn’t really steal too much away from this album’s end result, but it was at least worth mentioning. The band as a whole has continued to improve everywhere else, so why not here as well?

Lyrics aside, this album proved to me that Suicide Silence have become a force to be reckoned with. The Black Crown is easily their strongest, most enigmatic release to date, and the band is obviously on the rise. Was I surprised at the album’s strength? To a certain extent – yes. The time has come, though, for deathcore bands to step up to the plate and deliver, or be mired in the scene’s mediocrity – and if nothing else, Suicide Silence took that step out of the circle.

Catch the band on the side stage of this year’s Mayhem Festival, and if you bleed deathcore, pick up the album. It will be worth your while.

7/10

Tracklist:
01 – Slaves To Substance
02 – O.C.D
03 – Human Violence
04 – You Only Live Once
05 – Fuck Everything
06 – March To The Black Crown
07 – Witness The Addiction
08 – Cross-Eyed Catastrophe
09 – Smashed
10 – The Only Thing That Sets Us Apart
11 – Cancerous Skies

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Crown-Suicide-Silence/dp/B0052WNHCY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1310777407&sr=8-2

MySpace: Link | Wiki: Link

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