Suicide Silence: Silence is Golden
“It’s all about the groove,” Garza says. “When that first groove hits, it’s fucking awesome.”
Garza is a man who appreciates “groove,” that musical pulse that can drive a mosh pit into a steadily pounding mass of bodies. He might have been weaned on Jimi Hendrix and Black Sabbath, but he ultimately gravitated to the band Korn, who are, if nothing else, practically all groove.
Heylmun, on the other hand, is just the opposite. He grew up listening to the melodic pop-metal of Ozzy, Mötley Crüe and even Whitesnake before graduating to Pantera and Slayer as he got older. The impact on his playing is obvious. Garza notes, “He’s more of a lead guy, a riffer. I’m a groover, so we really work well together.” He laughingly admits that he felt very different about Heylmun’s playing when Heylmun joined. “He was a shredder!” Garza says. “I hated shredding!”
Obviously the two have since worked out their differences, and as Heylmun says, No Time to Bleed is a reflection of the entire band. In the past, he and Garza would come into writing and rehearsal sessions with large portions of songs already written. This time, jam sessions lead to greater contributions from the other band members: singer Mitch Lucker, bassist Dan Kenny and drummer Alex Lopez. Says Heylmun, “This is what we consider a good record—when we all obviously have our hands in it, when all our different influences are coming together to create something identifiably us. That’s when I’m really happy with what we’re creating.”
It’s particularly important these days, he adds, because it helps Suicide Silence stand out from the rest of the bands playing extreme metal. Or as Heylmun so eloquently puts it, “that whole fucking deathcore thing.”
Deathcore—the black-clad elephant in the room that with every bulky movement threatens to stomp Suicide Silence’s creative ambitions into the dirt. Deathcore is the not-so-subtly-named fusion of death metal’s speed and hardcore’s breakdowns. Depending on who you ask, it might also be the next big trend in metal: many emerging bands, like Job for a Cowboy, All Shall Perish and the Red Chord, fit deathcore’s description. And by most standards, Suicide Silence are leading the pack.
Nonetheless, the guys don’t agree that deathcore is anything to get worked up about; they don’t think it’s anything at all. “When I first heard people calling this music ‘deathcore,’ I thought, Is this a joke?” says Heylmun, who points out that the band Suffocation was playing this style of metal in the Nineties. “It’s such an idiotic term. The music’s a little different than what you were hearing in 2003, but it’s ridiculous to make it sound like it’s bigger than it is.”
It’s not, for instance, rap-metal, a paradigm-shifting sound that launched the careers of bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit. Or hair metal, with its obvious pop hooks and overblown imagery. Or black metal, with its Satanic obsessions. As Garza says, “It’s death metal with grooves, simple as that.” Garza and Heylmun accuse the media and music industry of creating the category as a marketing tactic, pointing out that it’s much easier to push a band if it’s easy to define and identify. On the other hand, the branding can benefit the bands, too. To their credit, Suicide Silence don’t deny this at all. Heylmun admits, “It’s true. If people think they like deathcore bands, and they think we’re a deathcore band, they’re hopefully going to check us out.”
The problem is that categories are like quicksand: once you’re stuck in one, it’s hard to get out. No matter what they release, Suicide Silence worry that they’ll always be seen as a deathcore band. That might not be a big deal now, since they are a deathcore band. But Heylmun says categorization makes it harder for them to develop their sound while still holding on to fans. And worse, metal fans who hate deathcore—and a quick scan of online message boards demonstrates just how vocal these people can be—might ignore Suicide Silence without giving them a listen. Garza says, “I wish people would just call us a metal band. If they did, I’d be thrilled.”
Early in their career, Suicide Silence established themselves as one of metal’s preeminent live acts. They’re heavy, without a doubt, and they bring a fierceness to their lives shows that helped earn them spots on tours with Slipknot, Carcass, Unearth, Nile and others. But Suicide Silence are also as technically precise live as they are in the recording studio. The interplay of drums, guitar, bass and guttural vocals creates some particularly complicated rhythms, and in the hands of other bands it could easily turn into sonic sludge. But Suicide Silence pride themselves on getting it right every time they take the stage. “I think the most important thing is our live shows,” Garza says. “The most metal moment of my life was seeing Cannibal Corpse when I was 14. It was like being smacked in the face. I really understood how powerful a show could be.”
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