By Marvin Dotiyal, Features Editor
[Visible Noise / Epitaph; 2008]
Original release date: September 29, 2008
Memorable tracks: “The Comedown”, “Diamonds Aren’t Forever”, “Suicide Season”
Remember Bring Me the Horizon before Jordan Fish joined and diluted the band into a typical, edgy, radio-rock fad? I sure do—especially the part where each BMTH release continually raised the bar for competing metalcore artists and showcased their compelling talent and ambition. In a sense, the Sheffield steel city lads are still technically trendsetters among the scene, having influenced classic bands like Underoath turn to an alt-rock sound in Erase Me, but nothing beats the wave of popularity and impact Suicide Season achieved during its release.
Suicide Season is one of my favorite records of all time, and I still jam to this album pretty frequently. Who can forget the hilarity of the pit warrior party anthem, “Football Season is Over” and that nasty, short ‘fuck you’ song that trolls you with an elevator music intro? Oh, and also that 8-minute closer? The album is perfectly balanced with a variety of different demeanors while also cultivating all the innovative elements that were pushing the genre at the time. Released during the midst of the “crabcore” invasion and watered down Killswitch Engage rip-offs, the band abandoned their deathcore roots to create an emotional yet heavy strain of metalcore. It’s quite a challenge for a band that relies completely on unclean vocals, but they did it.
“The Comedown”, one of their heaviest yet underrated tracks, kicks off the album with an explosive, breakbeat-influenced intro, which immediately sets high standards for the album. Brutal and destructive, the drums in this song definitely drive the song home, shedding light to Matt Nicholls’ impressive and consistent double bass coordination all throughout. Immense, satisfying breakdowns are not hard to find, especially in whiplash-inducing bangers like “Chelsea Smile” and “Diamonds Aren’t Forever”. The sheer catchiness of both of these songs are iconic—the hooks are ridiculously contagious at worst.
BMTH really knows how to party and move a wild crowd, but they can also hit you right in the feels. It’s worth noting that Oliver Sykes’ broken, visceral screams add so much when it comes to the emotional tracks. For example, “It Was Written in Blood”, which was inspired by a Russian poet’s suicide poem, delivers a sharp sense of heart-wrenching despair and agony, thanks to the combination of Oli’s painful cries and the unsettling ambiance. As an edgy teen, the whole concept of a suicide poem written in blood was somewhat “cool” and appealing to me, especially the end where Oli screams: “Like roses, we blossom then die.”
Despite the corny song title, “The Sadness Will Never End” is a spectacular song that alludes to the Swedish vampire film, Let the Right One In, as seen in the music video. It also features Sam Carter from fellow U.K. band Architects, providing clean vocals that add a refreshing touch of melody to the chorus.
But if we’re really talking emotional, the title track, “Suicide Season” is the one. If this doesn’t make you feel defeated, I don’t know what can. The length of the track may seem off-putting, but it’s worth the experience. The song is about slowly losing a friend that has been affected by his father’s death. The hopelessness and the inevitability of loss and death are captured so accurately yet beautifully in the song, almost as if it’s revealing the stages of grief with the song structure, but never really coming to terms with acceptance. The delicate melodies and the spine-tingling whispers in the electronic interlude desperately build up with anticipation, ending the song with a final, cathartic blow. The amount of anger and anguish packed in this song is like no other, and it will leave you speechless at the end with Oli bursting at the seams, tearing every fiber of his vocal cords: “If only sorrow could build a staircase or tears could show the way / I would climb my way to heaven to bring him home again.”
Looking back… this album still has the same impact and relevance it did 10 years ago. Whether you love or hate this band, you can’t deny that it opened new avenues for the scene. Everything that’s prevalent in today’s metalcore has already been done in this album. Djenty, drop G breakdowns? Listen to “Death Breath” or “Sleep With One Eye Open”. Atmospheric electronic elements? Look no further. Aggressive and ruthless, but also sentimental? You got the whole album.
The only questionable aspect of this album is the lyrics. In regards to lyrical themes, it is a huge step up from their debut, Count Your Blessings, as it deals with deeper, personal matters including depression, love, loss and drug addiction. However, the lyrics can still be deemed lackadaisical and generic. The justification here is that much of the lyrics tend to be simple because it heavily relies on Oli’s vocal delivery and what he makes out of it sonically.
Even if Oli’s damaged voice is a hit-or-miss for a lot of listeners, it plays a crucial role in this album as the production quality compliments that sound exceptionally with the rest of the band. The overall mix is also well-balanced with a more natural sound but provides enough artificial punch and polishing as necessary–this is what metalcore should sound like, not guitars and drums that sound like industrial machinery.
After almost a decade from the release, the long-fought debate of my favorite BMTH album has finally come to an end. Count Your Blessings, one of the toughest contenders, have finally been defeated by Suicide Season, which now I consider a near 10/10 in metalcore. The band’s deathcore roots in Count Your Blessings revealed the band’s technical capabilities (look at all the insane shreds and riffs), but it ultimately lacked focus, motive and emotion. Suicide Season, on the other hand, is a mayhem of a masterpiece that is inherently palpable to the listener, crushing their ears and hearts with raw intensity and emotion in the best way possible.