Suicide Silence Guitarist Defends Gatekeeping, Explains Why It’s a Good Thing
Can gatekeeping in metal actually be a good thing? Suicide Silence guitarist Mark Heylmun argues in favor of the practice and even contends that it helps make the metal scene stronger in the long run, but for reasons that are rarely mentioned.
In 2023, gatekeeping looks quite a lot different than it used to now that fans have limitless resources to pursue a seemingly infinite amount of music, right at their fingertips. Prior to the arrival of the internet, music fans had to rely on trusted sources in media to steer them in the right direction and to help inform their purchases. One big problem with this is that some promising bands were never given a fair shake, their fate left in the hands of a few critics and editors.
Now, fans are a part of gatekeeping more than ever with everyone weighing in on social media and various online forums. There's a certain desire to police the scene and protect it from bands perceived as unworthy, which all feels kind of silly. But all of this back and forth, Heylmun says, can fortify the scene.
"My hot take is that gatekeeping makes the scene stronger," the guitarist tells Guitar.com.
Backing up his statement, he reasons, "I know that that sounds weird but – if you don't have people talking shit and saying, 'This isn't this or that' – you don't have the other side saying, 'Yes it is!' or 'Fuck you for even saying that!' It creates the conversation that makes scenes stronger. I've seen that since I was young and I've been a part of that."
Basically, if there are naysayers present, the opportunity for others to speak out against the gatekeeping creates an organic moment that demonstrates there are supporters of whatever music is caught in the crosshairs. There's strength in numbers, especially for the downtrodden, and arguing about which band is better than another or which bands do and don't suck has always been part of what engages the metal community. Hell, metalheads are still hashing out the Iron Maiden vs. Judas Priest debate!
Suicide Silence, who most recently released Remember... You Must Die, are a band who has experienced both sides of the gatekeeping dilemma. Deathcore was a largely panned genre when it first bubbled up with Suicide Silence among the leaders of the pack. Later, in 2017, the group released a divisive self-titled album that marked a radical change in styles. Some fans defended the bold move while others vented frustration about the direction.
As for what Heylmun wants to do next creatively, he adds, “Where my head is at right now is that I want to try and write more epic compositions. On You Can’t Stop Me and Become The Hunter, even though there was a record in between where we experimented like crazy, I feel like we wrote the same record twice. Now, on Remember… You Must Die and where I’m going next, I want to write longer songs.”
“I want to write the deathcore 'Bohemian Rhapsody' next," the guitarist enthuses.
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