Integrity: Suicide Black Snake

Blackened hardcore pioneer reveals new intricacies in chaos

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It might be difficult for an Integrity novice picking up Suicide Black Snake to join the cult, facing what superficially sounds like roughly sewn together murky hardcore and retro metal. Frontman and the-man-who-is-Integrity Dwid’s charisma and the articulate and utter darkness he expresses wasn’t always matched by the music, and indeed, terming some of Integrity’s lesser albums, like Integrity 2000 or To Die For ‘sludge hardcore’ would be overreaching.

The long-distance disciple, however, is rewarded when penetrating the samey surface and delving into the nuances of each release. Suicide…’s metal chops are the most audible in ages, and that includes atmospheric, old Metallica-like acoustic refrains.

Guitarist Robert Orr’s work on There Ain’t No Living In Life, in which Dwid exchanges his trademark agonised hardcore growls with almost whispered speech, the intricacy of dynamics from acoustic melancholy (and a tiny bit of mouth harp!) to mournful, wailing latter-day Suicidal Tendencies crescendos, marks it as a centrepiece of awe around which the entire album revolves. This makes the juxtapositions of primitive aggression and metal intricacy come out in full, and understood as intentional.