Mayhem Festival offers a fresh start for Suicide Silence

Levi Benton (center) is frontman for Miss May I.
Levi Benton (center) is frontman for Miss May I.
Posted: July 29, 2014

SUICIDE SILENCE is off to the type of fresh start no band wants to go through.

The deathcore quintet from Riverside, Calif., is touring in support of its fourth full-length album, "You Can't Stop Me" (Nuclear Blast Records), with new singer Eddie Hermida, who came on board in October 2013 after a motorcycle crash killed frontman Mitch Lucker the previous fall.

The tour will take them to the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden on Friday as part of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. The daylong metal/hard-rock event is headlined by Avenged Sevenfold and features 20 bands, including Korn, Asking Alexandria, Cannibal Corpse and Texas Hippie Coalition, on four stages. Among the other features during the event will be a "Metal of Honor" to honor a local veteran who attends the festival.

Suicide Silence's lead guitarist, Mark Heylmun, said that the album's title comes from lyrics that Lucker left behind. The band was in the early stages of writing the album late in 2012, and Lucker had written some lyrics. When, a year after Lucker's death, Hermida joined Suicide Silence, band members discovered the rough draft of what became the title song.

Discovering the message in "You Can't Stop Me" "was really just flooring and really gave us a direction to go with," Heylmun said. "We knew we wanted to do something that was strong and empowering and let everyone know that tragedy doesn't have to end you.

"We wrote 'You Can't Stop Me' on our white board, and that was our inspiration for the entire record."

Heylmun said that after Lucker's death, some band members considered moving forward under a new name, but founding member and rhythm guitarist Chris Garza threatened to quit.

"Once that happened, it was, there's the fire, there's the reason to keep going . . . with the name Suicide Silence," Heylmun said.

Heylmun said that the other band members have been impressed with the way Hermida has taken to the task of filling Lucker's shoes and paying respect to Lucker's memory.

"We knew he'd be able to do it, but it's amazing the way he's actually handling it," he said.

Heylmun said it is exciting and rejuvenating to be on tour with a new album and a new lead singer, but acknowledged that, given the tragic circumstance that led to this situation, "it's a bittersweet reality that we're in right now."

This will be Suicide Silence's third time on the Mayhem slate, said Heylmun, calling the tour, in its seventh year, "a well-organized machine."

He said that the band looks forward to bringing its new music and new lead singer to the audience, but won't shortchange fans of the earlier music.

"We want to satisfy the old fans and play some of the old stuff," he promised. "It'll probably be a healthy set of old and new."

The Troy, Ohio, band Miss May I is on the Mayhem tour for the first time with a message to fans . . . or, specifically, 10 messages to fans.

The metalcore band crafted the 10 songs from its fourth and latest album, "Rise of the Lion" (Rise Records), as essentially letters to fans, dealing with issues that fans expressed in letters to the band.

Frontman Levi Benton said that the band hears from fans all the time, and, since MMI cannot respond to them all, this was a good way to let fans know that their stories are being heard.

"We just thought we had made a superpersonal record the last time," Benton said. "I wanted to do something different, not make the same thing twice. So, instead of writing a story record or anything, we tried to come at it from a different angle. Basically, all the letters we got from fans over the years, we let them inspire the songs. It's sort of like letters back, letting people know that we're hearing their words and reading their letters, that we're here for them.

"There's a military song, which is different for us; a divorce song; a song about losing a best friend, or someone close to you. Our old songs have been so vague that the same song could help five different people in five different ways. It was nice to write specific songs for those people who have written to us."

The album was produced by Terry Date (Pantera, Slipknot) and recorded at Studio X, in Seattle. Released in April, it hit No. 6 on Billboard's Rock Album chart shortly after its release.

Benton said that the five members generally write collectively, mostly while sitting around and jamming. All the members bring varied influences to the table - from blues to black metal - and weave them into the music.

"Some of the guys listen to hardcore, some listen to hip-hop, some listen to black metal, really heavy stuff," he said. "It's really all over the board."


Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, Friday, Susquehanna Bank Center, 1 Harbor Blvd., Camden. Doors open at 1 p.m. Tickets, $25-$150. For full info on what you can and cannot bring, visit ph.ly/CamdenMayhem.


On Twitter: @DebWNJ

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