[Album Review] Suicide Silence Returns to Deathcore's Forefront with 'Become the Hunter'
Updated: Mar 29
To call Suicide Silence’s 2017 self-titled album divisive may be an understatement. While nu metal certainly influenced the deathcore movement, chiefly in the more widespread use of extended-range seven- and eight-string guitars, the band strayed away from their typical M.O. to the derision of its fanbase. Something to the tune of over 5,000 fans even petitioned against the album’s release, after the widely negative reaction to its lead single “Doris.”
I, like many fans, was jarred by this sudden shift in the band’s core sound, and I’m an unabashed, unironic fan of nu metal, even two decades after its peak. When word broke of Suicide Silence’s first new music since their abject failure, I was hesitant at first. By the time “Feel Alive” came out, I was sold, as the band went back to their deathcore roots, with a spine-busting tone and the kind of viscera that we’ve come to know and love from the arguable torchbearers of the subgenre. The trend continues on the new Become the Hunter, the band’s sixth overall studio album, and their third with vocalist Eddie Hermida.
The instrumental track “Meltdown” opens the affair, building into a blast-beat filled middle section and a chugging, djenty last section. It then gives way to the brutal “Two Steps,” with its flavors of death metal, hardcore punk, and black metal. The start-stop feel of the whole song is nice tension-building, and the breakdown is a mother. The visions of walls of death in the pit conjure themselves.
“Feel Alive” is hulking and dangerous, even with a distinct lack of blast beats. The calculated approach by drummer Alex Lopez has great effect on the track overall, as the machine gun double kick drives the rhythm section along. “Love Me to Death” goes back to SS basics, with loads of double kick patterns and a fun breakdown. The guitar solo is downright dizzying, and in a genre that usually doesn’t utilize solos or lead breaks, it’s a refreshing change of pace.
The classic machine gun double kicks drive the verse of “In Hiding,” with its tremolo picking and overlapping guitar melody. A healthy blast beat break and chugging chorus firmly remind the listener to whom they’re listening, and an ending breakdown caps off this brutish, swift track before “Death’s Anxiety” comes in swinging. Some of the passages in this track would make Gene Hoglan smile, with the double kick work standing out against the Fear Factory-esque riffing in the pre-chorus.
“Skin Tight” has a slow burn, even though hearing an alt-metal flavored intro with death growls is an odd listen. Even with the odd styles clash, it’s a fun song that snowballs into full madness by the time the breakdown and bridge hit. “The Scythe” continues the four on the floor groove from the previous track, with more machine gun kicks and slower, sludgier insanity. The clean-picked melody underneath the guitar solo is another thing one wouldn’t usually expect in death metal, much less its core cousin, but that doesn’t make it unwelcome.
Chalk another “they did that?” moment up for the acoustic, sitar-like intro to “Serene Obscene,” before its crushing palm-muted hook snaps the listener back to reality. The song is a focused blast, rather than an opening of the floodgates, and the riffing showcases the dual guitar attack of Chris Garza and Mark Heylmun, a gruesome twosome if ever there were. “Disaster Valley” is circle pit heaven from the jump, with a guitar solo that feels vaguely Tom Morello. The title track calls upon SPITE vocalist Darius Tehrani to lend his mid-screaming ways to another throwback, essential SS-sounding track. The closing breakdown puts a lid on the record proper, as a chorus of the damned adds hellish atmosphere.
With Become the Hunter, the band remembered just who they are, and it shows. A number of songs sound like they could have come from classic, Mitch Lucker-era Suicide Silence, and the breakdowns are as crushing and doom-bringing as ever. If Suicide Silence is the face of deathcore, it is scarred and worn, but still grinning in the face of the Devil himself.