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Suicide Silence - "The Black Crown" (CD)

Suicide Silence - "The Black Crown" CD cover image

"The Black Crown" track listing:

1. Slaves To Substance
2. O.C.D.
3. Human Violence
4. You Only Live Once
5. Fuck Everything
6. March To The Black Crown
7. Witness The Addiction
8. Cross-Eyed Catastrophe
9. Smashed
10. The Only Thing That Sets Us Apart
11. Cancerous Skies

Reviewed by on July 4, 2011

"All the familiar elements that make this band are present in spades."

It’s amazing what a difference ten years makes in the hazy realm of subgenres. Had Suicide Silence emerged before the turn of the millennium, it’s not difficult to imagine them leading a revolution of underground extreme music, like fellow L.A. outfit and proto-deathcore act Crematorium before them.

Instead, it’s 2011, and the past four years have seen Suicide Silence lumped in firmly with one of the most jarring and obnoxious musical trends metal has ever seen. Their widespread popularity at the hands of Century Media, unthinkable even a decade ago, is also their curse: many seasoned metalheads and genre purists have found their association with the breakdown-obsessed modern deathcore movement too much to stomach. They may have a lot of fans, but time and circumstance have yet to judge them as a diamond in the rough or part of a passing fad.

That’s a shame, because Suicide Silence’s third full-length release “The Black Crown” does much to set them apart from the pack. Fans know what to expect, and they won’t be let down. The group’s trademark snarling, percussive assault continues here on all cylinders, and barking frontman Mitch Lucker certainly hasn’t decided to take singing lessons. All the familiar elements that make this band are present in spades.

What really makes “The Black Crown” a worthy listen and elevates it above the dime-a-dozen dreck of today’s deathcore, though, is the apparent love and respect Suicide Silence has for its two pillars of musical influence: death metal and hardcore. Not metalcore… real hardcore, the tough stuff. Midtempo opener “Slaves To Substance” deftly combines and balances the two, giving them equal time and weight, and sets the tone and pattern for the tracks that follow. “O.C.D.” comes in swinging like a hardcore sledgehammer, but soon segues into a groovy hybrid of Malevolent Creation and Pantera – and back again. The downtuned thrash of “Human Violence” pushed up against the bouncy, riff-packed “You Only Live Once” serves as a booster vaccine against monotony and laziness, as the band continues to shift gears on nearly every subsequent track.

There are some fun surprises, too. While the guest growls of Suffocation’s Frank Mullen on “Smashed” are to be expected and don’t make much of a difference one way or the other, the sudden appearance of one Jonathan Davis on “Witness The Addiction” will turn some heads and raise some eyebrows. Davis’ performance proves an inspired and terrific addition, as his signature tortured wail effectively plays off Lucker’s harsh screams, bringing some more depth and breadth. His presence also playfully underlines the band’s admitted Korn influence – also apparent on “Fuck Everything” – that adds to the fearful intensity and gripping dread that permeated Korn’s early work and lives on in Suicide Silence.

As expected, “The Black Crown” is a panacea for neither the pure death metal nor straight-up hardcore of today, but it deserves to be recognized as the album that divorced Suicide Silence from the deathcore tag and established them as an extreme music institution in their own right. It evokes memories of yesteryear, when the underground term “deathcore” meant something dark, dangerous, and deadly.

Highs: Death metal and hardcore are both well represented without devolving into monotonous breakdowns; Jonathan Davis adds some exciting drama.

Lows: Suicide Silence's particular brand of extreme music is a bloody racket, and often headache-inducing.

Bottom line: Evokes memories of yesteryear, when the underground term "deathcore" meant something dark, dangerous, and deadly.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)