Sound — 8
For a number of months I have been awaiting the release of Suicide Silence's most recent effort, "The Black Crown". This deathcore quintet has always been a very solid act in my opinion, becoming interested in what they had to offer ever since I first heard their debut album's hit "Unanswered". Their frantic, blast beat-driven sound with crushing breakdowns shuffled within had initially piqued my interest, and as far as I am concerned has only improved with time. Alex Lopez's drum work has certainly improved and diversified with this new album. Brutal stretches of double bass-heavy drumming are riddled throughout, most prominent in tracks "Smashed" and "Cancerous Skies". But as solid as the drumming may be, it is not very innovative, and the same could be said about the guitar work. Dropped-tuning chugging and blazing riffs remain dominant through the entirety which may not sound like such a bad thing, but by the third track I had almost entirely forgotten how the guitar work of the first track sounded. Not enough of it is memorable. One track that has stayed in the back of my mind is "The Only Thing That Sets Us Apart". Its passages of haunting acoustic guitar really set this track apart (pun intended).
Lyrics — 7
The lyrical composition of Suicide Silence confuses me. The majority of the lyrics on this album are appropriate as far as the tone of the music goes, with angry, aggressive lyrics accompanying their heavy, powerful sound. A passage of "Slaves To Substance" goes as follows: "You're f--king worthless! I'm gonna sit back with my shades on Watching you make all the same mistakes we all went through". However, since lyrics can be interpreted by different people in different ways I won't delve too far into the lyrical themes of various tracks. I figure listeners can make that call for themselves or look at track titles to get a basic idea of what to expect. Now for the part that confuses me. "F--k Everything" and "You Only Live Once" have lyrics so trivial and shallow that I wonder why they were even put in the record. Examples? The former ends with "f--k everything" being shouted 22 times in a row. I don't think I need to elaborate any further. The latter, "You Only Live Once", has lyrics that I would sooner expect to be excerpts from Brokencyde lyrics, and if you understood my disdain for that aforementioned "band" you would understand my concern. A line I particularly dislike, "you only live once, so just go f--king nuts! Go!", instantly ruins the atmosphere of the song for me. Why such silly, upbeat lyrics should be put in a deathcore song is a mystery to me. Mitch Lucker's voice has never sounded better to me. I believe the vocal efforts in this album overshadow any of SS's previous work, in term of effective range and in sounding organic. As far as deathcore and metal go as a total, I think Mitch has good range but can't reach the same brutal lows as heavyweights like Phil Bozeman of Whitechapel or the vocalist of I Declare War. If I had one area for Mitch to improve in vocally, it would be his low growls. Frank Mullen of Suffocation and Jonathan Davis of KoRn lend their vocal talents as well, both contributing to the respective tracks they are featured in in my opinion. In fact, I thought Frank Mullen's powerful growls in the track "Smashed" were a highlight of the album.
Overall Impression — 7
I'm going to keep this section brief. I find the most impressive tracks on the album to be "Smashed", "Human Violence" and "Cancerous Skies". Overall, I would say this album is a great improvement over their previous efforts but still has some disappointing tracks. I have very high hopes for whatever Suicide Silence comes up with next as I am optimistic they will learn from their mistakes and come back stronger than ever before. If this CD was lost or stolen I would most likely buy it again, but not absolutely.