Brutal. Uncompromising. Amazing.
In my opinion it takes a few special ingredients to make a great death metal album. Firstly, it's got to have enough variety (albeit subtle sometimes) to keep listeners entertained from start to finish. Secondly, the production has to be sharp enough to hear most of what's going on. After that, instrumental proficiency and adequate control of the tempo, build and mood are a must. Fortunately, Californian quintet Suicide Silence has followed the above recipe in spades, serving listeners up a sickening slab of brutally proficient death metal in the form of their debut album: The Cleansing.
After the disturbing intro (Revelations) there's not much you can do to prepare for the flat out, bludgeoning assault that is Unanswered - full of hammering blast beats, buzz saw guitars, viscously guttural screams (thanks to the talents of front man Mitch Lucker) and clocking in a little shy of two minutes; the track is an instant death metal classic. Next up, the aptly titled Hands of a Killer slowly builds its way into a mid-paced neck snapping rumble (courtesy of skins man Alex Lopez and Bassist Mark Heylmun) before giving rise to the sheer intensity and uncompromising energy of The Price of Beauty.
The Fallen offers little reprieve, aurally assaulting anything in earshot with it's measured pace and subtle lead melodies (dished out by axemen Chris Garza and Mike Bodkins) that create a mood very similar to the one found on Bloodbath's masterful Resurrection Through Carnage. While the first half of The Cleansing is absolutely fantastic, in my opinion it's the second half that really shines.
With tracks like: Bludgeoned To Death with its ridiculously heavy riffery, Girl Of Glass (complete with early era Carcass-esque rhythms) or the ravenously infectious Eyes Sewn Shut it's certainly hard to pick favourites.
The quality of this album of has much to owe to the obvious skill of the band themselves, each member well and truly playing their part - so much so that it remains difficult to put one musician's performance over another - which is ultimately how things should be. A band should (ideally) be the product of the sum of its parts, not just a stage for those with more skill to shine brighter than the rest.
At the end of it all, If you like your death metal uncompromising, blisteringly brutal, and tight as, do yourself a favour and pick up this gem of a release - just like an icy cold beer on a stinking hot day, it won't disappoint.
(Century Media Records/Stomp Distribution)