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Monday, October 27, 2008

Album Review: Suicide Silence - The Cleansing

Now this is scary shit. Even the album artwork gives me the heebie-jeebies. But then it would, it being the work of the legendary Dave McKean, best-known for his graphic novels and Neil Gaiman collaborations. The band lurking menacingly within are Suicide Silence, a pummeling mixture of death metal, grindcore, hardcore and doom. Upon spinning the opening tracks of ‘The Cleansing’ I can’t help but notice the surgically precise, distorting time signatures and destructive breakdowns that drill slowly, persistently into your brain. The vocals are a mixture of tearing screech fighting for dominance over the heavy spadework of bass-grunting. It’s mindless, nigh-on incomprehensible and meltdown-inducing.

The promo blurb with the CD announces that on its release in the U.S. ‘The Cleansing’ made the Billboard Top 200 entering at 94. Vocalist Mitch Lucker reportedly responded with “It felt fucking amazing to have the Billboard news broken to us. It also felt great knowing that all of the non-stop touring and going fucking nuts every night on stage had such a positive effect on our first week sales”. That’s an impressive breakthrough for such a brutal band and bodes well for the band’s future.

As I write, I’m about half-way through the album now and each track has been indistinguishable from any other. But, wait. ‘No Pity For A Coward’ has a nicely balanced double-kick, guitar whine and bullet-bass concoction. Combined with the rhythmic vocal changes, a spot of arpeggio guitar lead and you actually come out the other side without feeling completely nauseated. Well, that’s a result. The screamo parts are starting to grind but I’m persevering.

The band have clearly set out to cherry-pick the most bruising, deafening sounds they can find from a variety of genres and the result is a cacophony of vitriol from beginning to end. Without doubt its one for the more discerning death metal fan to find fault with – I’m flailing, nay, suffocating here. It’s track eight - appropriately titled ’Bludgeoned To Death’ as it happens - and I’ve made my peace with the deep guttural growl and plan to team up with him and take out his insane, caterwauling friend who seems hell-bent on obliterating my ears. I decide I might use my desk-phone to beat him to death with. No, hold that thought, I’ll ram this portable heater down his throat instead.

The last track approaches and it’s ‘Green Monster’. Frenetic double-kicks slip in and out of the breakdowns and move on into some feisty spots of snare-bashing. The guitars feedback, then pistol into a grinding mash of bass and lead. All the while the vocals wallow before there’s a reverberating, watery thread of city sounds, garbled phone conversations and high-pitched guitar whine over bowed strings. The fade-out leaves me at peace. No! There’s a hidden track!

The lack of track variety leaves me with no choice, and this won’t be popular with their rapidly increasing fanbase, but to advise you to steer well clear of this one. There is the odd glimmer of respite as, at times, promising snippets of dark and thickly melodic guitar shine out above the misery. The band proudly shuns their genre’s predictable conventions but for me they would be better served incorporating a few of them into any future efforts, if only to break free from the remorseless attack of repetition that they seem to have found themselves wedged in.

Also online @ Subba-Cultcha = http://www.subba-cultcha.com/album-reviews/article.php?contentID=5363

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