I think we can all agree that 2017 was a very rough year for Suicide Silence. From an immense backlash to their self-titled record, seeing their lowest album sales to date, starting beef with other bands, retreating to their debut album for their current American tour, a truly ill-advised roadie merch bundle, and with recent sexual misconduct allegations against frontman Eddie Hermida; this year hasn’t been good for the popular metal group. However, often of the band’s own accord, Suicide Silence rarely did themselves any favours.
After a solid 2016, Suicide Silence entered 2017 with an arguably ambitious, wholly different-sounding record looming on the horizon. This year’s titular record was a less heavy, highly notable departure from their past deathcore sound; seeing them instead pursue a mixture of ’90s-sounding alternative and nu-metal a la Korn and Deftones, with the occasional heavier, deathcore influence showing through every now and then. It was a much rawer, “realer” record; both in sonics and aesthetic, all namely due to the band’s work with Ross Robinson and that dude’s style and process. With plenty of confident-sounding interviews and wide coverage coming from the likes of Alternative Press, Metal Sucks, Metal Injection, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, and Rock Sound about Suicide Silence’s new record, there was a lot of hype, excitement and nervousness building for this release. But then, as singles ‘Doris‘ and ‘Silence‘ were released and as Nuclear Blast Records sent out advance promo copies and the reviews started to come in, the story changed.
While many enjoyed and defended the band’s controversial fifth record – from the non-deathcore crowds and completely new fans to Overdrive Magazine scoring the record a perfect 10/10 and Cannibal Corpse’s George Fisher criticizing the backlash toward the album’s clean vocals – a quick search through Facebook comments, Twitter replies, to YouTube video like/dislike ratio’s and comment sections alike at the time showed that this record was getting panned and hard.
In my own harsh, lengthy review of the album back in February, I scored it a lowly 25/100, summarising it with “This is just fucking sad“, before saying:
“In today’s heavy music climate, especially those genres under the extreme banner such as deathcore, having ambition, taking bold stances and taking risks should be deeply encouraged. Music – heavy or not – and art itself won’t progress if we as artists and consumers of art don’t take risks in our ideas and our own work. However, by their very nature, risks are just that – risky – and they can backfire on you, even if you have vast ambitions and good intentions. And this is exactly where Suicide Silence finds themselves with their new and very different self-titled album; a complete and utter backfire“.
I still stand by my review of a subpar record that fell incredibly short of the mark now at the tail end of 2017, as time hasn’t helped that record at all.
Many other sites were also critical of the record, with Metal Hammer scoring it 2.5 stars out of 5, Metal Injection giving it a 6 out of 10, Distorted Sound Mag scoring it 6 out of ten saying “Suicide Silence is a mess of an album, but it is certainly a fascinating one” and Exclaim scoring it scathingly 1 star out of 10. It’s a record that received widely mixed opinions across the board, but there also weren’t that many reviewers or sites rushing out to praise this record to the high-heavens. All with very good reason, I’d argue.
And things just kept getting worse for the band, their newest album and their public image as the year went on.
When interviewing the band for the site’s rather awesome ‘Fact Or Fiction’ segments, Loudwire noted that Wikipedia article for their album was commonly vandalized and edited. Not surprising given the internet these days, but still funny and only adding to the circus of it all. Less funny and more cringey was *that* Suicide Silence and Thy Art Is Murder beef, where Eddie Hermida oddly started stirring the pot, calling the band and their vocalist CJ McMahon sellouts. Which was followed up by Thy Art not even saying anything and carrying on like the bigger men they are. Hermida also dismissed any and all critics to their new record as people who “were not paying attention” and that any detractors just didn’t get it, man. Even adding that this album isn’t a failure and that these “haters” just aren’t seeing this as the real continuation of the deathcore legacy that it apparently was and is…? Oh, Eddie.
Then drummer Alex Lopez also apparently went on an angry Facebook reply assault, insulting fans and listeners who didn’t agree with the record’s new direction, before said comments were all deleted. No surprises there, really, but not before screenshots were taken of his comments. Neither this instance or Hermida’s comments to the press about the negative reactions helped matters; it only fueled things further into the negatives. Same goes for the band destroying their instruments on-stage at various shows, which while as age-old for rock n’ roll as a Fender guitar, only gave people more ammunition.
Also, who could forget the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) “tee-hee” meme that was helped generated by Jared Dines? No one, that’s who! The YouTuber even joined the band on-stage earlier this month for ‘No Pity For A Coward‘ where he even “tee-hee’d” right before the song kicked in. Bless you, Jared Dines, bless you.
This meme won’t ever die.
Shit even got to the point were a Change.org petition called for Nuclear Blast to halt the album’s release, a petition that amassed 5,070 signatures from angry fans. First of all, that’s just going too far, isn’t it? Secondly, Change.org petitions don’t always make any lasting impact or any actual change. Thirdly, and as I mentioned in my review, we need the really bad records so that we can truly appreciate the really good ones. While that was an over the top situation, I still feel that this was all indicative of the public’s overall feelings towards this completely hopeless record.
The self-titled LP was also the band’s lowest selling record to date too. In the U.S. alone, the self-titled album sold around 4,650 copies – close to a 69% drop from the first week sales from ‘You Can’t Stop Me‘ (2014, 15,000 copies) and ‘The Black Crown‘ (2011 14,000 copies – around the same for 2009’s ‘No Time To Bleed‘). Hell, that Change.org petition got more signees than this album sold copies in America. Adding further insult to growing injury, and as Metal Injection pointed out, Born Of Osiris re-released their debut album, ‘The New Reign‘ – now dubbed ‘The Eternal Reign‘ – around the same time as this Suicide Silence record dropped and it sold 3,900 copies in its first week. Meaning that a re-release of a now decade-old album almost outsold Suicide Silence’s new record. Fuckin’ ouch!
Here in Australia, however, we had the lowest chart position drop compared with other countries chart figures of ‘You Can’t Stop Me‘ three years prior. That previous record hit #30 back in 2014 out here whereas this self-titled release saw the band falling down to #78 on the ARIAs. All something that Nuclear Blast Records Australian manager, John Howarth, confirmed to me. While we may have had lowest chart drop of the lot, again, all I can say is: ouch.
As I’ve said before, we all know that the music industry is a far cry from what it once was in terms of sales and consumer platforms, but for one of the deathcore’s biggest acts to sell barely 5,000 copies in the first week of a new album is not a good sign. No matter how much the band may try to disingenuously spin it in their defence. For the fans and the public voted with the most important tool at their disposal – their wallets.
Much more recently, throughout their U.S. headline tour this month, the band have been doing the typical band thing of late: playing in full whichever of their records has just hit some sort of anniversary milestone. In this case, September 18th, 2017 marked the ten-year anniversary of their 2007 debut album, ‘The Cleansing‘, which they’re now touring across The Land Of Trump.
Granted, ‘The Cleansing‘ is easily one of the band’s best works, even now a decade later (while writing this piece, I was actually listening to said debut cause it fucking shreds), alongside the group’s follow-up record ‘No Time To Bleed‘ (2009), which was and still is an absolute monster. So honestly, no, such a tour is far from the worst thing in the world. It also gives something back to those older, earlier fans who couldn’t give the slightest inch of a fuck about their latest record, which really shows as the band have barely been playing any new material bar one song from the eponymous release, ‘Hold Me Up, Hold Me Down‘ and maybe ‘Disengage‘, ‘Sacred Words‘ or ‘You Only Live Once‘. (The latter of which is basically a given now when it comes to which track closes out this band’s live shows).
However, as Barney from Napalm Death told me in an interview for KYS a few months ago that sadly never got published, bands who opt for those kinds of tours often don’t have much else worth offering punters and fans; that their newer material isn’t as well-received or as loved, or it just doesn’t sell as well. (An answer prompted by my question of whether or not his band would conduct such tours for their earlier records). And I would agree with old mate Barney as that’s often true with these kinds of tours. Suicide Silence’s new album and their current American tour acting as a prime example.
Likewise, with said U.S. tour, the band have just made another misstep in the form of this head-shaking roadie-for-a-day merch bundle that fans can purchase. On their official merch website, this is what the description for this $150 USD (that’s about $196 Australian) package reads:
“Be a roadie for day with Suicide Silence, and learn lessons for a lifetime!
- Work along side the crew during load in
- Stand sidestage for Suicide Silence’s set
- Enjoy a pre-show meal with the crew
- Mingle with band during soundcheck
- EXCLUSIVE SuiCrew T-shirt***
- Working crew laminate***“
Man, I really do hope that whoever came up with this idea got fired. Or at least gets removed from all further business decisions. Social media backlash to this “exclusive” merch announcement was swift and harsh, and while it’s indeed a free market where people can spend money on whatever they damn well please, that doesn’t make this bundle any less ill-advised or stupid. Besides, I feel that this Twitter reply sums all of this bullshit up the best:
“Get in the way of all the crew, annoy the venue staff as they’re not insured to have member of the public hanging around during setup, eat the actual crew’s catering (who at this point are barely tolerating you), and get a shitty Gilden T-Shirt”
— LUNDØN (@LundonMusic) November 22, 2017
However, regarding a far more serious issue that also hasn’t helped the band’s image, there were the recent sexual misconduct allegations made against the band’s frontman by Verena Celis, who claimed that Hermida was “emotionally and sexually manipulating” towards her. You can read her full statement here. According to Metal Injection, Celis stated that Hermida sent her explicit photographs when she was 17 and when he was 32. While she admits that she allegedly lied about her age – telling the frontman she was 18 at the time – things got worse from there, with her saying that:
“A few weeks later, he gave me his snapchat and we occasionally snapped each other, but nothing really happened, until he for some reason just assumed I turned 18. And I was scared to say I was still only 17. He started flirting and sending suggestive pictures of himself. I was in shock. He toyed with me and manipulated me into sending him nudes, which I was totally against. But hey, if your idol wants nudes, you send them.“
While this was a messy not so -black-and-white situation and while the woman did lie about her age to Hermida, that doesn’t totally absolve him. However, to his very real credit, the vocalist responded to these allegations immediately after they came to light in what is arguably the most genuine and apologetic statement you’ll likely see from a band member or public figure of late.
Look, maybe 2018 will be a much better time for the band; comprised of less hate, less stress and fewer public messes. Or maybe the band would strongly disagree with my perspective here that 2017 was just not a good year for them – not at all. Yet when I bring all of the above instances and factors together, I firmly believe that the consensus is clear: 2017 just wasn’t Suicide Silence’s year.
Here’s what I feel is genuinely the only song from the band’s self-titled record that’s actually worth listening to: