Album Review: SUICIDE SILENCE Become the Hunter
It goes without saying that the past few years have been quite the gaping pothole in Suicide Silence’s post-Lucker timeline, so I feel obligated to briefly address the past to help contextualize what this new album stands for. In 2017, the band took an extreme stylistic shift for their self-titled album, parting ways with their deathcore foundation and investing in a Deftones, Slipknot, and Korn nü-metal worship-like record. From the introduction of clean vocals and messy Ross Robinson production to the loose ended song structures, the drastic change was not received well by the community. Despite a couple of catchy moments and some admiration for their attempt at trying something completely new, I stand behind the overwhelmingly negative reception and backlash Suicide Silence faced. On top of the garbage pile that was forming, the "tee-hee" meme that followed the "Doris" single, as well as suspicious sexual allegations against vocalist Eddie Hermida, fanned the flames.
With all that said, not even a perfect album could allow the metal community to fully welcome the band back with open arms. Yet, after listening to Become the Hunter, it's inspiring that Suicide Silence have pieced together a very solid and convincing redemption album. It may not win back all the fans that they lost, but they are absolutely back on the correct path with this latest material. As the band has for the most part returned to their deathcore identity, we also see a fitting production team backing the LP including producer Steve Evetts, who produced The Black Crown and You Can’t Stop Me as well as mixing done by Josh Wilbur (Lamb of God, Gojira) and mastering by Ted Jensen (Of Mice & Men, The Devil Wears Prada).
The first track, "Meltdown," acts as a fitting live show instrumental opener, overflowing in organ and choir-driven gothic dread to accompany the slamming deathcore riff. "Two Steps" then revs the engine to start the mosh pit. Within the three minute piece, Suicide Silence manage to check everything off the deathcore trope list with ease including unnerving down-tuned grooves, high screams, low growls, and an eerie bridge to breakdown. There is also a spazzy guitar solo and a short, but sweet memorable line “I’m two steps away, so why don’t you kill me” allowing the single to stand out and leave a lasting impression. After two songs, the band is clearly back on track.
“Feel Alive” is one hell of a headbanger and stylistically fits on par with You Can't Stop Me or even older Mitch Lucker releases and the hefty momentum carries over to the strong single “Love Me to Death,” which reveals some slightly new territory lead guitar-wise followed by a stretched vocal range on “In Hiding.” Moving forward in the tracklisting, Suicide Silence shows there still is an internal urge for the experimentation that we heard on Suicide Silence. Rest assured, this experimentation isn't anywhere near as severe as the self-titled, but rather notable progression.
Admittedly, some moments where Suicide Silence is caught inching outside of their wheelhouse are not so successful. For example, the atmospheric parts and raw vocal takes in “Skin Tight” and "The Scythe" are more distracting and subtractive from the initial energy and drive that the band had created in the first half of the album. Nonetheless, both songs pack in some high-octane riffs and licks to keep things from completely derailing. Furthermore, some risks that they take pay off quite well. The acoustic intro to "Serene Obscene" and melodic guitar solo in "Disaster Valley" are equally enjoyable and interesting.
Overall, this is a pretty successful recovery for Suicide Silence. They may have been temporarily cast into the deathcore shadows, but I'd claim it was for the better, forcing the band to reclaim their position in creating a far superior follow-up. Heck, Whitechapel went through a somewhat similar scenario, putting out the wishy-washy Mark of the Blade LP before redeeming themselves on the follow-up The Valley. All in all, I'm confident in labeling Become the Hunter as the beginning of Suicide Silence's comeback.
It is safe to say that the self-titled album was simply an ugly ex-girlfriend in the past and the band have learned from their mistakes by moving forward with some extremely commendable singles that will do well at filling up their live setlist and although the experimental tidbits can sometimes slip off the cliff, they prove to be far more tasteful and digestible in the end. I recommend those who lost faith in this band to reconsider and give Become the Hunter a full listen because it certainly allowed me to gain a new appreciation for the band as they rose from the ashes of their failure.