Back in the mid-to-late 2000s, many fans of the core scene at the time (myself included) were indulged in the sounds of the countless deathcore bands that MySpace had to offer. One of these acts were...and still somewhat are...the California outfit known as Suicide Silence. Formed in the early 2000s in Riverside, California, this five-piece band was generally hailed as being ahead of their time in terms of the style of their genre that they performed in addition to the talents of their late vocalist, Mitch Lucker. So today, we will look at the album that started it all.
The Cleansing is the debut full length by the California deathcore heavyweights. It was released in late 2007 under the Century Media Records music label and gained the band a ton of traction. Following its release, this 44-minute, thirteen track album spawned five singles (four of which had music videos recorded as well), debuted at #94 on the Billboard Top 200, and sold over 7,000 physical copies in its first week of being on the market as well as all the positive reception it got. The Cleansing was also produced by John Travis and features artwork courtesy of Dave McKean. I have many fond memories of listening to this one back in high school...so, I thought it would be fair to analyze and give my current thoughts on it today.
So the album starts out with a brief, atmospheric build-up track that leads into 'Unanswered'. Pretty typical for the genre, so far. However, listening to 'Unanswered' recently, as well as a few other early songs on The Cleansing, made me realize how cluttered and all over the place the band's sound was back then. Sure I still don't mind much of it for the nostalgia, but it still feels as though there is lost luster. The chromatic breakdown riffs mixed in with Lucker's screeching and the countless standard blast beats is what makes up most of 'Unanswered'. Now, there's nothing inherently off about the production quality or overall instrument sound itself (save for perhaps the finicky snare), but the overall writing and structure of some of the album's content just doesn't do it for me.
Another instance comes in the form of 'Hands of a Killer', which used to be one of my fave tracks off of this release back in the day due to its breakdown action and lyricism. The way I see it now, however, it's all an edgy four-minute mess of a deathcore track. And, while I don't necessarily mind 'No Pity For A Coward', I've heard it so many times over the years that it just nauseates me nowadays. I will give it the credit of having one of the most memorable hooks in the genre, though.
Now, with all that being said, there are still several redeeming qualities to be found in The Cleansing. For instance, I still enjoy 'The Price of Beauty' since it contains one of my favourite Suicide Silence choruses of all time. The intensity and accompanying riffing that goes along with it blends too well. Also, I appreciate 'The Fallen' a lot more than I used to because of the way it stands out from all the other songs on this album. Its unorthodox tremolo riffing combined with some of its progressive qualities gives off the band's better abilities, with more lyrical substance to go along with the aforementioned.
All in all, it's safe to say that I like the album's second half much more than the former (first six or so tracks). Back in the day, this used to be the opposite case. I just feel as though tracks such as 'Girl of Glass' and 'Green Monster' have more to offer in terms of actual songwriting and instrumental substance. 'The Disease' is one of my personal faves due to its booming guitar lines, breakdown chugging patterns, and variety in Mitch's vocals, as well as having one of the better outros on The Cleansing along with 'The Price of Beauty' and 'Destruction of a Statue', which has one of the most intense slamming outros I've ever heard in deathcore honestly. 'Girl of Glass' has a really catchy chorus and overall engaging riffs and 'Bludgeoned to Death' really shows off Lucker's talents in full force. 'In A Photograph' is another worthy mention for its aggression and unrelenting emotion alone.
Well there you have it. I've said pretty much all that comes to mind for Suicide Silence's debut full length foray into madness. While I've said plenty negative things about this one, I wouldn't say it's a bad album or that there isn't merit to it. Sure, at the end of the day, it may be, at many times, a brutally dumb and edgy deathcore album like many others. But the thought that The Cleansing inspired countless other albums like it to spawn in the future is at least something to take into consideration. It's got some hidden gems here and there and I'd still recommend it to a fan of this style of music; also, the historical precedent that this release created for the deathcore genre is undeniable at the end of the day. If it's any consolation, I enjoy this one a lot more than the band's current efforts...and that's all I'll say on the matter for now.
Fave Tracks: 'The Price of Beauty', 'The Disease', 'Girl of Glass'
For Fans Of: Pretty much any type of deathcore out there, especially if it has that ole MySpace sound
**Album Re-issue available on Amazon here!**
Full Album Stream, courtesy of the label (Century Media Records):
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-Review by: Dave Raffy
Musician, reviewer, fan & promoter
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