22 May 2014

Suicidal Tendencies - Suicidal Tendencies


I've been away for too long, so I'm doing this album in order to get into the swing of things again, get some creative juices flowing and otherwise getting my blog skills sharp enough again to tackle other albums that I wouldn't usually listen to. I promise to get round to that A Perfect Circle album sometime...

Top Track: Institutionalised.

Right, now I've got the obvious out of the way, let's go...

Suicidal Tendencies were one of the first 'crossover' bands. The term 'crossover' is, as the name suggests, the combination of two styles into one unit. The most common one being the amalgamation of thrash metal and hardcore punk. This basically sounded like punk with solos and metal song structures or metal with punk song structures etc. A lot of bands became synonimous with tapping into this but only a few actually ran with it head-on, Suicidal Tendencies being the main ones for a while. I say for a while as future releases would have them experimenting with alternative rock, more metal and even pop. It was about this time the band became fucking gash and I tuned out. To be honest, you may as well stick with this and "Join The Army".

Formed in 1981 in Venice Beach, CA, Suicidal became known as a 'party band' while at the same time, having to deal with controversy. Rumours abounded that members of the band plus their family and friends were involved with gang activity, citing lead singer Mike Muir's blue bandanna as well as violence at gigs as evidence. It turned out that the brother of the bassist Louiche Mayorga was involved with a local gang known as "V13" (Venice 13). I've no idea if any of this is true but who gives a fuck? We're here for the music.

Most of the songs on this album are quite similar in that they are minute and a half bundles of whirlwind fury. The band play some smash-crash-bang rhythms while Mr Muir vents his spleen over the top of them. Subject matter tends to focus on alienation, despair, depression, non-conformist politics and, erm, finding someone's dead mother. That's the song "I Saw Your Mommy". A slow, grinding number with a hypnotic and much-plagarised riff (L7 used it on "Pretend We're Dead" and pretendy-grunge cunts Puddle Of Turrd used it for "She Fuckin' Hates Me" on their album 'Come Clean' Link to that blog here. It was done by Father Marc Richardson), it's basically Mike Muir going into great detail about the state of a corpse he's found, realising it's someone's mum and generally going off on one in a frantic chorus. It's possibly not to everyone's taste, but for those with a sick sense of humour like me, I guess it'll hit the spot.

The first song which introduces us to this little jambouree is "Suicide's An Alternative/You'll Be Sorry". Maniacal laughter and discordant guitars lead into the type of thrash/punk that'll start an almighty circle-pit. It then breaks down into a bouncy, almost jaunty rhythm while Mike continues his rant. It's not a bad opener, it set's it's stall early and leaves no doubt about what you're in for. "Two Sides Politics" is a minute long fury blast, which leads nicely into "I Shot The Devil". Apparently, the song was originally called "I Shot Reagan" after the incident where Crazy Ronnie Reagan was shot. It also mentions the shooting of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. However, FBI intervention saw the song title changed. This is one of the best songs on here, more unbridled fury - or just Mike Muir gobbing off. Either way, it's an awesome slab of hardcore thrashpunk. Alternating between slow and fast, it's possibly the most layered S/T have been at this point, prior to going tits-up. "Subliminal" is up next, a rant about governmental control. It follows a near identical structure to "I Saw Your Mommy". I guess they liked that type of riff so much they replayed it twice. I've done that before. Many, many times. This song also appears on the hardcore punk station featured in the video game "Grand Theft Auto: V", which isn't the first time that an  S/T  song has featured in pop culture. We all know what song I'm talking about. I'll get to it in a second. Literally, as next song "Won't Fall In Love Today" is over as quickly as it begins! It's got a nice main riff, but it's pretty much a typical song of this band. Not really much to say other than it's great...

Right, the moment we've all been waiting for - "Institutionalised". This is *the* song where the whole "All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, and SHE WOULDN'T GIVE IT TO ME!!!" thing came from. The story of a young man who ends up getting committed just because he was having a bad day. Alternating between a jaunty verse which not only contains some great guitar leads but also speeds up towards the chorus as the vocals - which are in a spoken word format for the verses - get more aggressive and wound up, then it's hardcore time in the chorus! This song ended up reaching pop culture status by being featured in an episode of Miami Vice as well as an epsiode of "Beavis & Butthead" where Beavis starts ranting along and Butthead lambasts him because "Once a year they play something cool and he has to talk to it"...it's easily the best song on here by a country mile.



Right, we're now onto "Memories Of Tomorrow" which is another fast hardcore punk song. Tbh, there are more than a few on these and it's good, although I am becoming a bit hard-pushed to find other adjectives to describe these types of things. "Possessed" is next and has a guitarline that initially reminds me of Dead Kennedys although for the most part, it's more hardcore stuff. Then we're onto "I Saw Your Mommy" which we've already discussed. "Facist Pig" is next which deals with the punks favourite subject - police brutality! Whilst not as good as, say, "Police Truck" by Dead Kennedys, it certainly kicks up a fuss! "I Want More" is a rant about minimum wage and "Suicidal Failure" is about a guy who cannot roll a 7 no matter how many times he tries!

So, all in all, it's a good album - but as you can tell from the blog, there is a distinct lack of variety in songs. But who cares when it's this good? Fans of punk and thrash especially should make this album top of their list if they haven't done so already. Casuals should still give it a listen. You won't regret it.

This album was rerecorded in 1993 as "Still Cyco After All These Years" and whilst it had the better production and musicianship (Only Mike Muir remained from the line-up that recorded this album), this album wins hands down for capturing the moment.

9/10 - Almost perfect. Almost...

Chris J.

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