For their third album, 2011’s The Black Crown, Suicide Silence guitarists Chris Garza and Mark Heylmun messed around with eight-string guitars and used Fractal Axe-Fx amp simulators, Apple Logic, Pro Tools and drum machines to create songs that were both brutal and contemporary.
Yet for all its savagery, The Black Crown lacked a human touch.
So for their as-yet-untitled follow-up—the first Suicide Silence studio record since the death of vocalist Mitch Lucker in 2012—the guitarists went back to basics. They put away their gizmos, dragged out the Mesa/Boogie Triple Rectifiers and cabinets they used for their 2007 debut, The Cleansing, and wrote on seven strings.
“We jammed everything out together in my parents’ garage, which is where we started out,” Garza says. “It felt much more real than writing with computers, and we were able to capture the power of everyone’s collective emotions.”
While working on the new album with producer Steve Evetts, Suicide Silence decided to release a CD and DVD of a December 16, 2012, tribute concert in memory of Lucker.
Titled Ending Is the Beginning: The Mitch Lucker Memorial Show, it features the group playing its songs with various vocalists, including Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe and Machine Head’s Robb Flynn. In addition to giving the band more time to fine-tune the new album, the tribute concert release creates a smooth transition between the Lucker-fronted lineup and the current band, which features ex–All Shall Perish vocalist Eddie Hermida.
“Doing the memorial show was very therapeutic,” Garza says. “It was a healthy distraction. Because there was so much to plan out the whole month before the show, it helped with the grieving process.”
After the concert, the members of Suicide Silence took some time off before moving forward again in September 2013 with Hermida. Working together again was comforting, and the guitarists quickly bashed out a batch of songs that are angry and impulsive, yet structurally more complex than most of their past material.
“There is a lot riding on this record,” Garza acknowledges. “But we’ve been so focused. We look at it as an opportunity to do what we love and make something that Mitch would have been really proud of.”