Vocalist Hernan “Eddie” Hermida of California deathcore masters SUICIDE SILENCE has defended the band’s decision to explore new musical territory on the group’s latest, self-titled fifth abum, explaining that “if we didn’t do this, it would be doing a disservice to the (band) name.”

SUICIDE SILENCE has come under fire in recent weeks following the release of the track “Doris” from the new disc. The controversy over the track’s new sound — featuring a more melodic and clean singing style, in the vein of acts like DEFTONES and KORN — even caused one disgruntled fan to launch a petition to stop the record coming out.

“We really stepped outside of ourselves and wrote a record that challenged us,” Hermida told The Orange County Register. “It’s going to challenge our fan base, too, and people that were used to hearing that certain sound out of us.

“If we didn’t do this, it would be doing a disservice to the (band) name,” he continued. “By making it self-titled, we’re telling fans and we’re telling ourselves that this is who we are now.”

According to Hermida, “Suicide Silence” solidifies his status as a full-fledged member of SUICIDE SILENCE, four years after the death of his predecessor, Mitch Lucker.

“Nothing can change that Mitch passed away and when he did, he took what the band was and he actually changed it,” Hermida said. “He gave us the gift of self-realization in a very volatile time and when you’re given that gift and you don’t explore it and take it where you need to, you’re succumbing to the fear and pain instead of growing from it. We wanted to tell people that it’s okay to grow and to step outside of the things that keep you from exploring and expanding your world, your community and yourself.”

“Suicide Silence” will be released on February 24 via Nuclear Blast Entertainment. The CD was produced by Ross Robinson, who has previously worked with KORN, SLIPKNOT, LIMP BIZKIT and SEPULTURA, among others, and was mixed by Joe Barresi (KYUSS, MELVINS, TOOL, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE).