The Black Crown
A few new twists but little progression as a whole
California (Riverside) based deathcore/metal act Suicide Silence didn’t make much of a lasting impression on me with their debut offering The Cleansing (2007), with the band’s music coming across as nothing more than style over substance. With their follow-up release No Time to Bleed (2009), there were some minor improvements heard in the band’s attempts to diversify their sound, but apart from a couple of songs, the vast majority of the album seemed to suffer from the same faults that plagued their debut - their inability to write songs that truly stood out as anything memorable. Given the slight improvement in sound and direction I found between the band’s first two offerings, I had held out some hope that the five piece act would once again show some progression from No Time to Bleed to their latest release The Black Crown. But despite claims made by the band about the progression their sound has made over the last couple of years, Suicide Silence’s third album is pretty much business as usual for the U.S. act.
The opening track Slaves to Substance is certainly one of the album’s more interesting efforts, with the band trademark all out aggressive assault on the senses combined with elements of strong groove, a slower tempo and some rather cool atmospheric passages to break up the monotony of straight ahead deathcore/metalcore.
O.C.D. (which otherwise stands for obsessive-compulsive disorder, a condition Lucker is afflicted with) is noteworthy with its brief inclusion of clean vocals, while Human Violence benefits from a shredding solo. And then there’s You Only Live Once, which is undoubtedly one of the band’s catchiest efforts to date. All of these differing elements help give the songs enough variation from what you would typically expect from the band, which earn themselves a place amongst some of the band’s more solid and thought out efforts.
But as strong as the opening four tracks are, the band can’t seem to maintain the consistency, with the lyrically vacant Fuck Everything and the rather pointless interlude piece March to the Black Crown adding nothing to the album.
Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis does add a little something extra to Witness the Addiction with his clean singing through the choruses, but otherwise the song is fairly run of the mill for Suicide Silence. The same too can be said for Cross-Eyed Catastrophe, which would have been a fairly predictable offering had it not been for Eyes Set to Kill vocalist Alexia Rodriguez' atmospheric backing vocals.
Smashed, on the other hand, is a little more impressive, with Suffocation vocalist Frank Mullen putting in a towering performance and the music drifting more towards death metal rather than metalcore. But while the track does have its strong elements, it’s ultimately letdown with some rather cliché lyrics from Lucker.
Finishing up the album are The Only Thing That Sets Us Apart and Cancerous Skies, both of which are solid, and pretty much typical of Suicide Silence’s standard fare.
The Black Crown does show a little progression for Suicide Silence from their first couple of releases, but not enough to honestly call the album a huge departure from what you would expect from their past efforts.
Musically, the band is stretching their field a little, relying less on metalcore’s generic sounds, and embracing a little more of their collective deathcore influences. But in terms of lyrical content, and the memorability of their latest offerings, the band remains unchanged.
If you liked Suicide Silence’s first couple of albums, then you’ll enjoy The Black Crown to some extent. Others will merely pass this off as another variation of the same thing for a third time around.
(Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia)