Suicide Silence – Become The Hunter (Album Review)

California based Extreme Metal titans Suicide Silence is slated to return with Become The Hunter on February 14th, 2020, thanks to Nuclear Blast. Get ready for a Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre!

The California Deathcore outfit formed in 2002, and delivered their massive debut full-length, The Cleansing, in 2007. With great things happening for the band, they would go on to release two more albums—2009’s No Time to Bleed and 2011’s The Black Crown—before an unforeseeable tragedy struck with the loss of Vocalist Mitch Lucker. While other bands might have folded under the weight of their pain, the remaining members of Suicide Silence—Guitarists Mark Heylmun and Chris Garza, Bassist Dan Kenny, and Drummer Alex Lopez—opted to soldier on in honor of their brother. Thus, with the addition of Eddie Hermida (ex-All Shall Perish), they would go on to triumphantly deliver an additional two LPs, 2014’s You Can’t Stop Me and 2017’s Suicide Silence, all as they continued to rack up mileage across the globe.

Now, for 2020, the boys are back and more brutal than ever. Forget the “clean” vocals that were introduced last time around, and prepare yourself for the eviscerating Become The Hunter. Produced by Steve Evetts (Sepultura, The Dillinger Escape Plan), mixed by Josh Wilbur (Lamb of God, Trivium), and mastered by Ted Jensen (Pantera, Slipknot), the 11-song collection marks the band’s sixth full-length release overall and their third with Hermida.

Released in advance, a somber mood permeates Become The Hunter’s explosive opener, “Meltdown.” Blast beats and gritty guitars waft through the instrumental, which is a good foretelling of what’s to come: savage Metal that maintains a merciless pace and ferocious approach throughout its run-time. Take, for example, the album’s first proper track, “Two Steps,” a monstrous stomp. Here, Hermida’s demonic growls travel over the top of frenetic guitars and slaughtering blast beats.

This is maintained across the bulk of the LP, so be prepared for sheer brutality. Though they do, occasionally mix things up, as with the slight notes of Hardcore embedded in the verses of “Feel Alive,” a track that delivers insanely frantic choruses and one fiery yet melodic guitar solo.  Similarly, there’s the incendiary stomper “Love Me To Death,” and its guitar groove coupled with Hermida’s impish howls that make the track a stand-out and obvious choice for a single/video.

For those looking for only the heaviest of the heavy, you’re apt to revel in the sinister “In Hiding,” jack-hammering “Death’s Anxiety,” certifiable insanity of “Disaster Valley,” and the grand finale barrage of the album’s namesake, “Become The Hunter.” Meanwhile, tracks like “The Scythe” initially break from the mold, layering their influences into an intriguing amalgamation of brutal yet melancholically melodic moments, only to revert back to the standard.

Although, Become The Hunter does see some experimentation, as well. “Skin Tight” breaks from the formula, presenting more haunting melodies throughout its sonics. This somber mood, however, never reaches into the vocals, which are appropriately eerie but somewhat counter to the track’s more, shall we say, delicate-leaning composition. The end result feels like two divergent theories meshed into one: the funereal, doomy feels brilliantly crafted and those aggressive howls now somewhat out of place.

It’s not their only foray into different territory. Besides having a fun title, “Serene Obscene” opens to acoustic guitars and a worldly feel before detonating into chugging guitars stomps. However, when the vocals kick in, they manage to maintain their approach without entirely reverting back to the blast beats and death howls. In this, it shows the band’s effort to experiment and step outside of their comfort zone—and is, therefore, another clear highlight of the collection.

Last time around, on 2017’s aforementioned Suicide Silence, the band experimented with their sound to the point of creating an album that lacked cohesion. This time around they’ve fixed that issue and crafted something that flows beautifully, but decidedly lacks in diversity. Please don’t misunderstand—we love heavy!—but Become The Hunter’s endless brutality only serves to degrade the band’s aim. In fact, it is the phenomenal guitar work of Heylmun and Garza that soars above everything else on this album, elevating the incendiary performance by interjecting carefully crafted doses of melody and impeccable musicianship.

Suicide Silence has some intriguing ideas on Become The Hunter, ones that show a band who are not afraid to shift gears and who can deliver a truly slaughtering performance put to disc. Unfortunately, there are moments where the attack feels more like a contest in punishing Metal than a sincere shift in songwriting. So, if you love heavy for heavy’s sake, by all means this is the album for you. If you were hoping for a more diverse sound profile, well, they’re getting there, but they’re not there just yet. For this, Cryptic Rock give Become The Hunter 3.5 of 5 stars.

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