Suicide Silence had just about everything going for them by the end of 2012. Their fan base was growing larger and more rabid by the day with the release of their third album, The Black Crown, which reached No. 28 on the Billboard 200, and garnered major respect from the deathcore community. It was as if nothing could stop them. But it all collapsed on the morning of Nov. 1, 2012, when vocalist Mitch Lucker died in a motorcycle accident in Huntington Beach.
While getting over the shock of their comrade passing, the remaining band members faced the decision of whether to disband or change their name in an attempt to start from scratch. But they chose to do neither.
"Chris Garza, our other guitarist who started the band, said he would quit if we changed the name," fellow guitarist Mark Heylmun says. "Saying that made us realize we needed to stick together."
Suicide Silence perform at Rockstar Mayhem Fest at San Manuel Amphitheater, 2575 Glen Helen Pkwy., San Bernardino; www.rockstarmayhemfest.com. July 5, 1 p.m.; visit the website for more specific set times. $20-$155. All ages.
Since making that decision, they've uncorked two years of grief and anger and transformed it into the energy that's now keeping them alive.
They hired close friend Herman "Eddie" Hermida, of NorCal band All Shall Perrish, whom they've known since their first major tour in 2006, and the lineup of Heylmun, Garza, Dan Kenny (bass) and Alex Lopez (drums) continue to forge ahead as Suicide Silence.
The new edition will be thoroughly introduced this summer as part of the largest touring heavy-metal festival in the United States, Rockstar Energy Drink's Mayhem Festival. Suicide Silence join a roster that includes Orange County natives and headliner Avenged Sevenfold, plus Korn, and Trivium at San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino on July 5.
"Mayhem is one of our favorite tours; it was a breaking tour for us in 2008, and we're excited to do it again," Heylmun says. "The hometown shows are always intense, and I run into people I went to high school with or haven't seen in a long time."
Fans at Mayhem will also get to thrash to the band's salvo of new material as well as crowd favorites such as "You Only Live Once" and "Wake Up." The title of their highly anticipated fourth full-length album, You Can't Stop Me (released via Nuclear Blast Records on July 15) was taken from a collection of lyrics left behind by Lucker and aptly displays the band's dedication and perseverance. Steve Evetts, longtime Suicide Silence collaborator and producer, was working with Lucker on new material just days before the vocalist's death.
"The vibe and emotion that comes with this record has a real message behind it, more than any other record," Evetts says. "It's really empowering and resilient and about piecing everything in the band back together after hitting rock bottom."
The track "Inherit the Crown" was written in homage to their late vocalist, but it was also meant to give Hermida a way to engrave his own voice in the band. As with previous records, You Can't Stop Me features guest appearances by industry legends including Cannibal Corpse's George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher and the Dillinger Escape Plan's Greg Puciato.
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"Corpsegrinder is probably the most brutal death-metal vocalist around," Heylmun says. "[And] Greg has an unreal voice. . . . The record incorporates those things and these two bands, since they represent where we come from."
After a decade together, Heylmun says, the key to Suicide Silence's success is their willingness to put in the work to get noticed, playing what seems right and listening to your gut, something Lucker always believed in. And part of keeping him alive is making sure the band never give up on those ideals.
"This new album is showing where we're going and knowing there was a period of time in our lives that was extremely difficult," Evetts says. "Nothing can hold us down—[the title] really speaks for itself."