The gratuitous hatred that has been spawned in the wake of Suicide Silence’s self-titled album is particularly galling, not just because it is undeserved, but also because so much of it seems to be of a self-sustaining nature, with former fans feeding off each other’s misplaced sense of moral outrage. That Suicide Silence chose to break out of the mould into which they have been poured over the years took courage, and whilst all music is about choice and personal taste, the band’s self-titled album remains a powerful artistic statement flying in the face of a conformity metal fans claim to despise. Faced with such a barrage of criticism, a lesser band would have run for cover (or simply voided new material from the set), but Suicide Silence are clearly not ready to take the easy road and tonight is a charged affair with the band determined to give their new material the airing it so richly deserves. Whilst the audience has shrunk since ‘you can’t stop me’, aside from a couple of wankers heckling (and boy does Eddie deal with them), those that have opened their minds to the band’s directional shift are rewarded with a sweaty, ferocious set that combines old and new material into one glorious symphony of sickness..
Before we get to the headline act, however, we have a support slot from the mighty Deez Nuts, the Australian Hardcore crew who have bought the NYHC sound of Biohazard and Sick of it all screaming into the new millennium. Sharing a remarkable rapport with the crowd, JJ Peters is one of those rare front men from whom you can’t tear your eyes (apart from the unfortunate crowd member in the front row who spends an uncomfortable few minutes writing a text, oblivious to the fact that she is being watched intently by the frontman), and his genuine stage raps get the crowd worked up without the need to resort to cliché. The songs fly by, and the band offer a mix of old and new, turning the entire centre of the venue into a heaving pit of sweat-soaked bodies. Highlights include ‘shot after shot’ and a bristling ‘purgatory’, but in truth the energy levels simply do not flag at all throughout the band’s all too short set. Clearly enjoying the hell out of having this opportunity to share their music with a receptive audience, Deez nuts are a vital and exciting band and a must-see live. 8
From the moment Suicide Silence take the stage they’re on fire. The band are clearly aware of the outpouring of negativity in the wake of their recent album and so close ranks to deliver a raw, nervy set that has more in common with a band just starting out than veterans of the stage. However, despite the edgy quality to the set, it’s not a lack of confidence and the band kick off with massively underrated single ‘Doris’, Eddie launching himself at the microphone like a man possessed. From then on , it’s a carefully paced set, slipping effortlessly between old and new material belying the notion that the band have shifted incontrovertibly beyond previously set musical parameters. It mostly comes off without a hitch, although during the deft light & shade of ‘silence’, some arsehole decides to yell out “Where’s Mitch?” earning himself a curt “fuck you!” from guitarist Chris Garza in response. The heckler thereafter largely lapses into silence, for which we can all be thankful, but it manages to spoil an otherwise impressive rendition of the track. That aside, the band deliver a phenomenal set, tearing into ‘Unanswered’, ‘Wake up’ and ‘sacred words’ before returning to the new record for a crushing rendition of ‘Listen’. It’s notable that, with few exceptions, the crowd remain relentless in their enthusiasm and audience members have already learned the words to the new material, singing along and generally wrecking the joint with a passion that would undoubtedly confound those who have taken against the band.
With the room approaching boiling point and steam leaving damp trails across every surface, it’s back to ‘the black crown’ for ‘fuck everything’, a track that could easily describe the band’s current mindset before a monumental ‘disengage’ leads to set (and album) highlight ‘dying in a red room’ which translates perfectly to the stage. With its weird, trippy beats and dark subject matter, ‘dying in a red room’ recalls the sonic experimentation of Slipknot circa ‘prosthetics’ and, for all its ambient rage, still packs an almighty punch. That’s as nothing, however, compared to the devastating ‘Hold me up, hold me down’ which sees instruments getting trashed even as audience members get a hold of the mic and deliver Eddie’s vocal with near perfect intonation. It’s a ferocious five-minute blast of toxic screams, down-tuned riffing and propulsive percussion and it leaves the audience crushed under its tracks. Only ‘you only live once’ (no making the audience scream for a return) remains to utterly destroy the O2 and, as the band depart the stage amidst a squall of feedback, two lucky audience members leave with guitars that have been all but reduced to matchsticks by the manic Chris.
It takes only one look at the band to realise that they’re fighting for their very existence here. There is not an ounce of apathy evident on stage and every band member is strained to the limit, delivering a performance that is brutally cathartic and truly exhilarating. The new songs fit perfectly alongside the older material and, whilst Eddie may be exploring various different vocal techniques, there’s no doubting the terrifying ferocity of his exertions as he shifts from pig squeal to feral roar on a knife edge. It’s clear that whilst the world at large may have temporarily taken against Suicide Silence, the fans who have made it here tonight are no less enthused by the new material and have as much invested in the huge moshpit as the band do. Far from being a spent force, the newfound creative spirit that underpins the band’s latest album fuels a similarly innovative performance and there’s a connection between fan and band that is impossible to fake. The ‘Suicide Silence’ album may well be a grower – one that requires a touch of time and patience to fully appreciate – but live, Suicide Silence are better than ever and it’s hard to image anyone leaving here disappointed. 9