Riverside metalcore band Suicide Silence changes its game; see them at the Observatory on Feb. 24February 17, 2017 5:31pm

Feb. 16--Big changes can be frightening but Riverside metalcore band Suicide Silence boldly went into the studio to record its fifth record knowing that it needed a change.

The group, which formed in 2002, had become synonymous with rapid-fire guitars and drums, deep belly growls and howling screams, but its hardcore fan base is in for a surprise as it takes in the quintet's latest leap of faith with a self-titled album that drops on Feb. 24. The band will celebrate the release with a show at the Observatory in Santa Ana that same night.

"We really stepped outside of ourselves and wrote a record that challenged us," vocalist Eddie Hermida said during a recent phone interview. "It's going to challenge our fan base, too, and people that were used to hearing that certain sound out of us."

The overall sound is still plenty heavy, but some of those guttural screams have transformed into a more melodic and clean singing style, in the vein of acts like Deftones and Korn.

That move has shocked and divided some fans who have thus far only been privy to two new tracks, "Doris" and "Silence." It even inspired one Canadian follower to start a Change.org petition to plead for the band's label, Nuclear Blast, to keep the album from coming out. So far the petition has more than 1,900 signatures, with some fans comparing the new sound to "Nickleback (but) heavier" and asking "Change the name of the band too, please."

It's a sensitive subject for fans that found the group early on and followed it as it released albums that hit rock and metal charts and began to be picked up for larger tours such as Warped Tour and the Mayhem Festival . It's also difficult for those who have an extreme loyalty to the band's original singer, Mitch Lucker. In 2012, Lucker was in a serious motorcycle accident on Halloween night, not far from where he was living at the time in Huntington Beach. He died from his injuries on Nov. 1.

A year later, the group, including rhythm guitarist Chris Garza, lead guitarist Mark Heylmun, bassist Dan Kenny and drummer Alex Lopez, decided to carry on and brought in Hermida, formerly of All Shall Perish. It released its fourth album, "You Can't Stop Me," in 2014 to positive reviews and paid tribute to Lucker by adding in two songs he had written before he passed including the title track and "Ending Is the Beginning."

Now, three years later, Hermida said the band as a whole has grown substantially and wants to share that growth with all willing to take a listen.

"If we didn't do this, it would be doing a disservice to the (band) name," he said. "By making it self-titled, we're telling fans and we're telling ourselves that this is who we are now. Nothing can change that Mitch passed away and when he did, he took what the band was and he actually changed it. He gave us the gift of self-realization in a very volatile time and when you're given that gift and you don't explore it and take it where you need to, you're succumbing to the fear and pain instead of growing from it. We wanted to tell people that it's OK to grow and to step outside of the things that keep you from exploring and expanding your world, your community and yourself."

He's not bothered a bit by some of the negative comments, noting that it seems fans are pretty evenly split. The reaction, he said, is natural and a real statement as to who has really been paying attention and listening.

"There are a lot of people who have talked a lot of stuff out there on the internet but I'm curious to see their faces," he said sincerely. "I want to hear how they feel and I welcome them to come up to me and to give me their honest critique. I mean that."

Though he does have that intimidating growl, Hermida said he finds joy in singing everything from Michael Jackson to Blink-182 songs in the car, in the shower or to his French bulldog rescue, Maximus. He's had a little bit of downtime lately, but the band will be on the road expensively in support of the new release and they're looking to party, especially with the hometown crowd.

"We want to celebrate with our fans and what better place than near home to just throw a big celebration," he said. "For this record we wanted to go to a place where we'd see our friends and we know people are going to show up that have been going to Suicide Silence shows since 2002. Those people, they deserve that kind of party and I think we deserve it, too. It's an exciting time and I'm looking forward to seeing each and every single one of our fans and giving them a big 'ol hug, maybe even a kiss."

Hermida said the band had rehearsed and plan to play a "healthy" amount of new material, but it would never completely abandon old works, especially those that were so dear to Lucker.

"Those songs gave us this life and they're for sure still in the set as well," he assured. "At the same time, it's time to play some new stuff and time for us to explore these songs live and I can't wait to start doing that."

Contact the writer: 714-796-3570 or kfadroski@ocregister.com


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