Suicide Silence's Mark Heylmun releases new guitar, says "gatekeeping makes the scene stronger"
The world of heavy metal is known for its significant amount of gatekeeping present in the scene, with rigid definitions of what constitutes a particular genre and who is allowed to belong to it. This gatekeeping is something that Suicide Silence's Mark Heylmun has spoken about in a recent interview with Guitar.com talking about his new Jackson signature series guitar.
Heylmun has just released a new seven-string, Randy Rhoads-style signature guitar, which has been labeled as a "premium guitar designed for progressive metal players" on the Jackson Guitars website. This has caused some confusion, as Heylmun has never positioned himself as a progressive metal player. Instead, he is known for his heavy chugging and screeching harmonics.
"'Progressive' is a strange term because shouldn't you always be progressing?"
He goes on to explain that he wanted to create an instrument that would help him up his skills and that he added a 'shredder heel' to make it easier to reach the higher frets.
Heylmun has also faced criticism and gatekeeping from fans and peers who feel that his sound does not fit into a particular genre or scene.
"Death metal didn't like us, and metalcore wasn't really into us, either. We didn't look 'death metal' enough either, and our breakdowns weren't really things that death metalheads wanted to hear."
"That was the linchpin of all the heckling that happened when we toured with Nile, Behemoth, and Cannibal Corpse. We did all those tours, and that's what you'd hear: people talking shit about your breakdowns."
Despite this adversity, Suicide Silence has enjoyed success, proving that it is possible to thrive in such an environment. Heylmun believes that gatekeeping can actually make the scene stronger by creating conversations and bringing different perspectives to the table.
"My hot take is that gatekeeping makes the scene stronger."
"I know 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."