LIVE REVIEW: Suicide Silence, ‘Virtual World Tour’, Stuttgart, 09/07/2020
Photo Credit: Hristo Shindov
The world may be in turmoil, the monotony may be unbearable and the lack of live music downright depressing, but there are certain artists who are determined to make the best of it for themselves and their fans alike. One such group is Suicide Silence, who have come up with an ingenious way of taking their music on the road (figuratively) by playing a number of sets on different days, in different time zones to simulate a Virtual World Tour, which includes an exclusive merchandise store and an ongoing chat box with which the fans in attendance can interact with each other and the band.
Tonight is the turn of Stuttgart, Germany. The band set the scene by playing old footage from previous tours, backstage moments and interview segments that include original vocalist Mitch Lucker, who sadly lost his life back in 2012, as well as briefly explaining through comical vignettes how the whole process of the live set will work.
The band then fly straight into a crushing rendition of Two Steps from their recent album Become The Hunter, which saw the band returning to the savage deathcore sound that made them so popular the world over. The set is very basic, there are few bells and whistles with the band playing in what appears to be their regular practice space, meaning that the tracks and the performance are front and centre with nothing to distract the audience. The mix is absolutely spot on, with the drums from Alex Lopez, in particular, sounding very full and clear, locking in perfectly with the low, rumbling bass of Dan Kenny, to give the solid foundation that the group rely on so heavily for their dense rhythmical sound.
The following track You Only Live Once has been a staple of Suicide Silence’s setlists since its release. The energy from frontman Eddie Hermida is infectious even through a screen, his charisma is unquestionable and shows just why the fans of the band embraced him so openly after the untimely demise of Lucker. Vocally, Hermida is at the top of his game. His highs are amongst the best in the business and he delivers the intricate vocal arrangements in a way that very few could.
Unanswered is a real highlight of the set. The riffs from Max Heylmun and Chris Garza pair up with the drumming from Lopez to create a pummelling effect, that is so enticing that it becomes difficult to remain seated and not to flip whatever furniture is in front of you and throw yourself around recklessly. This is one of the tracks that you see Hermida putting his own spin on, substituting the stomach-wrenching guttural growls of Lucker for his own snarling mid-range screams, without taking anything away from the intensity of the song.
The band cover a range of songs from across their discography, including Sacred Words from You Can’t Stop Me which is one of the band’s greatest melodic outings to date. This was perhaps a sign that the band would be heading down a more melodic route in the very near future (although the album that would follow would be widely regarded as a complete misfire, with the band soon retreating back to more familiar a territory).
Suicide Silence then open the voting to pick a track for later on in the setlist. The choices are Destruction Of A Statue, from their insanely heavy and critically acclaimed debut album The Cleansing, and Skin Tight, which is one of the standout moments on their most recent outing Become The Hunter.
As the voting commences the band set about playing arguably the song that propelled them to the very front of the deathcore scene, No Pity For A Coward, which sparked some of the most recognisable merchandise that the band have ever produced, as well as all the media attention they could have possibly hoped for at the time. They then follow this by dropping another popular song Wake Up, which is arguably one of the most accessible tracks from the group’s earlier works and one that is still an essential for any Suicide Silence set even to this day.
After a scathing rendition of the classic Disengage, the band announce the winner of the fan vote was Skin Tight from their latest effort. The song itself is a wonderful throwback to the kind of eerie lead guitar sound that Korn made famous back in their heyday, and the kind of tightness that leaves you wondering how it could possibly have been so many months since the band last graced the stage. Although it would have been cool to have seen the band rip through one of their most sonically devastating moments of their debut, it was a superb run through of a modern day Suicide Silence classic.
The final song of the setlist is the only disappointing moment of the entire set. Up until this point, the band had chose the setlist with surgeon-like precision and had avoided the absolute horror show of an album that was their self-titled effort. Although Hold Me Up, Hold Me Down is one of the better tracks on the album, it is still a bitter disappointment to close such an excellent set in such a lukewarm manner.
Overall this experiment has been a tremendous success. Not only have Suicide Silence proved that, despite all of the trials and tribulations of the past turbulent few years, that they have not lost any of their technical precision or their unrelenting sense of humour and playful nature. This was for the fans, this was for the band and this was for the very survival of the scene. It may seem like this pandemic is never ending, but bands like Suicide Silence are paving the way for plenty of others to follow, in order to keep food on their plates and fire in our stomachs.
Written by: Rich Webb