Review Summary: Thanks to new vocalist Eddie Hermida, Suicide Silence's comeback record is a mild success.
2014 has been the year of the comeback in the world of heavy metal. Behemoth, Body Count and Son of Aurelius are amongst the plethora of bands that have returned from hiatus to release new material this year. California deathcore act Suicide Silence is the latest to join this movement with You Can't Stop Me, their first release since the death of vocalist Mitch Lucker in late 2012.
Taking the vocals reigns from the late Lucker on You Can't Stop Me is ex-All Shall Perish frontman Hernan "Eddie" Hermida. Coming in and replacing a vocalist who passed away at a young age under such tragic circumstances is not an easy task, but Hermida handles it gracefully. Not to dump on Lucker's memory, but I feel like Hermida's presence has improved the quality of Suicide Silence's music. Hermida's vocals are far more varied and powerful than Lucker's ever were. The most obvious example of this is on the rerecorded version of Suicide Silence EP cut "Ending is the Beginning". If you play both versions back-to-back, it's alarming how much better the song is with Hermida on vocals. Numerous times on You Can't Stop Me, Hermida's vocal performance is able to single-handedly salvage a track. Otherwise forgettable cuts like "Warrior" and "Don't Die" are made listenable thanks to Hermida's blend of dynamic high-pitched screams and impressive albeit standard guttural lows. Not since Jason Richardson's brief stint in Born of Osiris has a metal band gained so much from a single member change as Suicide Silence did with the addition of Hermida to their ranks.
Musically, You Can't Stop Me is pretty much nothing out of the ordinary for Suicide Silence. Their song structure still consists of heavy use of slamming breakdowns and nu-metal-esque groove riffs behind competent yet dull drumming on just about every track. From time to time, they'll break the mold with some decent enough atmospheric guitarwork segments ("Ourobous", "Sacred Words") or play a bit faster than usual ("Cease to Exist" , "Control"), but they're still far too reliant on their chugfest ground game for these few moments of variation to make much of a difference. I will give them a bit of credit for improving as songwriters from their last record The Black Crown. The few guitar solos here are actually pretty solid and at the very least, there's definitely more of an attempt to mix things up here than on their past records. Despite the slight improvement in songwriting, the instrumentation of Suicide Silence still really holds them back as a band. With a top-flight vocalist in Hermida at the helm now, Suicide Silence has the potential to be one of deathcore's standout acts. Instead, they are just a step above forgettable thanks to safe songwriting that is too afraid to challenge the boundaries of the genre.
You Can't Stop Me is the most complete work Suicide Silence has ever made, which ultimately isn't saying much because their discography is so middling. Hermida has certainly made a positive impact on the music and there is an undeniable passion throughout this record to honor Lucker's legacy; it's just that Suicide Silence's music is far too one-note and predictable to be anything above mildly satisfying. If they truly want to become the unstoppable force the title of this record alludes to, they're going to have to break out of their stereotypical deathcore comfort zone and start to push themselves as musicians. Suicide Silence has shown enough flashes of potential over the years (especially on their past three records) to make a damn fine record, but You Can't Stop Me is certainly not it.