Review Summary: Brings you back to a time when hardcore meant how high you could ollie and how fast you could play. It goes to show that maybe brilliant music is the result of the culture and the era it came from.
There aren’t really any punk bands today who can claim that they’ve been investigated by the U.S. Secret Service on suspicion of being affiliated with west coast based inner city organized crime. But Suicidal Tendencies aren’t just any punk band. This usual gang of four to five musicians sport their signature blue bandanas, jerseys, flipped rimmed hats, wife beaters, and buttoned to the top collared shirts with grimaces on their faces. Their logo is more often found spray painted on skateboard decks than on brick walls. Their semi automatic guns have fret boards and pickups.
This is the same group that has been credited with pioneering “skate punk” and for also being praised by country singer Hank Williams Jr. on stage at the Country Music Awards. Suicidal Tendencies was banned from playing in their home city of Los Angeles for ten years, but they still produced a music video for the song “Trip at the Brain” that featured actor John Cusack.
"How Will I Laugh Tomorrow"…" marked SI’s third release and endeavor into a freshly alternative sound. Gone are the simplistic chords that burned through predominantly punk and thrash songs. The metal they had just started to touch upon on previous albums has been refined to a near perfect balance of the speed of punk, beefed up with a newfound heavier complexity. Instead of just one guitar solo every other track, each song is peppered with thriving lead guitar. You can tell each member is on the same page on working together to pump out a definitive sound.
Rocky George and Mike Muir are the main components of the band’s prolific music. Rocky is no stranger to punching the whammy bar and double tapping seven string guitars. He’s also known to have refused doctors reattaching his fingertip after an accident only because it would affect his tapping technique. The addition of Mike Clark on rhythm guitar was also essential to complimenting the lead and for the sheer speed that bands known for. Longest running Suicidal member, and lead singer, Mike Muir is the younger brother of Jim Muir, a famous Z-Boys professional skateboarder. His vocal stylings have been compared to that of Heffer’s on “Rocko’s Modern Life”, but it’s his attitude and work ethic that have kept his band alive for so many years.
The motif on How Will I Laugh Tomorrow If I Can’t Even Smile Today can only be described as bada'ss. Completely and utterly bada'ss. Their music is a lot like the evolution of American action films. A decade ago, real men wore their ammunition across their chest and they fired weapons from the hip. They used bowie knifes, not swords. Explosives weren’t detonated via cellular phone, but by hurtling three grenades at a time and walking away casually as hoards of unlucky henchmen burned in a bloody wake. There was no kicking or cart wheeling, only thrown punches and grapples. Much like these straight forward films Suicidal Tendencies don’t use gimmicks or fancy tricks in their music (and they sure as hell don’t contend with keyboardists) .
The closest thing to a single is Trip at the Brain
, but the song just isn’t as memorable. Other Suicidal tunes such as I Shot the Devil, Alone, Possessed to Skate, Controlled by Hatred, I Saw Your Mommy and Institutionalized (Featured on the soundtrack of the video game Guitar Hero II) stand out much more profoundly as classics. On the other hand there isn’t really a bad song on here, as the same successful formula continues throughout all eleven tracks.
The highest point on the album is The Miracle
. The slow trudging does quite nicely for sufficient head banging and the melodic and surprisingly catchy vocals will make it difficult to sing along while the head is in constant motion. Suicyco Mania
wasn’t included on the original cassette and vinyl version but is present on the CD. It is there miniature epic, in excess of seven minutes. There are a few areas of drop outs, invoking more of a sense that it’s multiple songs put together. The title track, How Will I Laugh Tomorrow
kicks off with a slow tempo and builds up about midway to a traditional thrash ballad.
Surf and Slam
has a quick double picked heavy progression with a surf guitar lead replacing any vocals. It’s surprisingly melodic and dark, deeming it a morbid fun in the black sun wave riding song. The unique departure is welcome and helps to tie everything together.
One Too Many Times
is a melting pot of minor chords, with more subdued vocals over passive guitar ring outs. The downbeat atmosphere reverts back to the basis of the Suicidal song collection, the blues. A harmonica would’ve been a fitting touch.
Pledge Your Allegiance
caught me off guard with a melodic grunge worthy intro, but the chanting of ST! let’s you know what band your listening to. The bass turns up the heat with a powerful line that brings back the grunge accompanied by some hard hitting percussion.
On the negative side, the repetition does get old in terms of lyrical content. The many repeated words include: Insane, Alone, Death, Dead, Pain, Waste, and Cry. The unbridled structure or lack there of also becomes a problem. It’s difficult to get a grasp on what your listening to or let the melody, lyrics or anything truly sink in. The abundant solo’s even grow tiring. This actually cheapens Rocky’s obvious talent, for even as The Feelings Back
fades out, Rocky’s still going at it.
Undoubtedly, Suicidal Tendencies are a great band with a memorable style. It’s a good album to listen to while driving, skateboarding, painting a mural, punching somebody in the jaw, or analyzing your sanity. A lot of Suicidal Tendencies fans would disagree with me in saying that "How Will I Laugh Tomorrow..." lacks one stand out song. It is a very good album, however, as there isn't one bad song. Its both incredibly solid and fluent, but it doesn’t shine. The band itself excedes any short comings because they truly are one of a kind.