Suicidal Tendencies
Suicidal Tendencies


4.5
superb

Review

by VTK USER (5 Reviews)
December 27th, 2009 | 43 replies


Release Date: 1983 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Angst and non-conformity delivered cleverly and aggressively. One of the finest hardcore punk (or crossover thrash) releases.

For the contemporary listener, there is not much wrong with highly influential hardcore punk/thrash metal band Suicidal Tendencies (which also pioneered "skate punk"). Angry lyrics addressing youth frustration/rebellion, depression and suicide? Those are not uncommon in mainstream radio stations. A possibility that band members may be involved with street gangs? Well, there was Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., 50 cents, etc. The name itself, "Suicidal Tendencies"? So what, it's just their friggin' name! But when Los Angeles based ST formed in the early 80's, such issues were fairly new to most of the North American population. After all, genres like Grunge and Thrash Metal (which would emerge soon) did not exist and hip-hop was on its infancy, not being associated with gangs and street-culture like it is nowadays. During the same time period, hardcore punk was trucking on with acts such as Black Flag, Minor Threat and D.O.A. still kicking around despite some of them running into hardships.

By the time ST released its self-titled debuted album, the band had garnered a fair share of publicity - largely negative. Allegedly, they had gang connections, with lead vocalist and frontman Mike Muir constantly sporting a blue bandanna and then-drummer Amery Smith bearing the initials "V13" (supposedly a gang in the band's hometown) in a group shoot; such allegations gained credibility as many of ST's early concerts turned violent. The band's anti-establishment, angsty (albeit witty) lyricism provoked reactions within a public not used to these themes, and even its own name, "Suicidal Tendencies", made some parents wonder what the Christ their kids were listening to nowadays. Nevertheless, the vibe the band had generated was too big to be ignored and it found itself an independent record label, Frontier Records. Suicidal Tendencies was released in early 1983 and eventually became one of the best-selling hardcore records of all time. Surely, free publicity stemming from all of the controversies was a factor that influenced the album's performance (as well as the song "Institutionalized" receiving MTV airplay) but Suicidal Tendencies could not have been the financial and critical success it turned out to be if it did not have good music, of course.

The most recognizable feature within Suicidal Tendencies - or any ST record, for that matter, is Mike Muir's vocal performance and lyrics. He never quite sings in the traditional sense or goes off in a shouting spree. Rather, he rants - or "semi-sings", rarely changing his voice's pitch. There is no doubt about his sincerity - the fast-paced, aggressive delivery is as raw and understandable as it comes. Although Muir is indubitably angry in most songs, it does not mean he is incapable of adding some wit and humor to his songs. Some of them are actually quite clever and funny such as Fascist Pig: "I want to be a fascist pig/ Love to fight what a thrill/We don't stop until we kill" or I Shot The Devil:(which is also one of the most memorable ones of the lot) "You're gonna rot in heave, hear an angel's voice/You're too bad for hell, although it's you first choice". In other tracks, however, he lets his ideas AND his fury loose. Case in point is Two Sided Politics: "Protect yourself in everyday war//You're a minority, you go straight to jail" and Subliminal: "Mind control the easiest way/Sponsored by the CIA(..)./They're ***ing with me subliminally". Regardless of whether if the listener agrees with Muir's views of the world, he or she will at least respect his extreme sincerity and occasional sagacity.

But Muir was not the only one working towards making Suicidal Tendencies an excellent record. Riffs and the drumming bear much resemblance to the thrash sound (Slayer, Metallica, etc.) that emerged months after ST had released this one - although the guitar and the bass is not as heavily distorted and down-tuned, it is played just as fast and with a more percussive intent than in say, Slayer's Raining Blood and keep the songs highly energetic. The drumming is also fast-paced and snare-heavy, successfully enhancing the feeling of violence and abrasion given off by Muir's rants. Yet the instrumental section is not an all-out assault on everyone's ears: the instruments do slow down at times, often when the rant is building up or reaches a point where throwing words at high velocity is just not worth it. And an oddity for a hardcore punk album - Suicidal Tendencies is packed with dashing guitar solos by Grant Estes. The short length of most songs do not bar him from throwing in a few seconds of sonic goodness in them, even in the 59-seconds long Won't Fall In Love Today. But his best performance is in Institutionalized, where his fluid playing flows perfectly in the verses. Bassist Louiche Mayorga gets to shine a few times as well, such as in the ever-moving introduction of Possessed.

In terms of tracks that truly stand out, the most recognizable one of the lot is Institutionalized. Addressing the issue of "generation gap" (parents not really following their children's thoughts), Muir assumes the role of a misunderstood teen. He seems to be fairly normal according to his rant, but his parents believe he is "crazy" and "on drugs" and ultimately places him in a mental institution. Although the message being conveyed is serious, he employs some humor and throws in a bathos: "Why don't ya (mom) give me a Pepsi?/"She goes, "No, you're on drugs!", that's it, something as minor as a request for a soda grows into a point of contention between the teen and his mother. The speaker's' distress is mirrored iny the guitar work, which grows faster, more frantic as the rant goes on. On the other end of the spectrum, there is I Saw Your Mommy. Featuring a highly graphic description of the mutilated body of a mother's body as well as showing the speaker's delight with her condition, the track's main riff eerily contrasts with the morbid imagery, being very uplifting and not brazen as in nearly all other songs in the album. This may as well be the most disgusting track ever written by a hardcore punk band, yet it is bizarrely catchy. And there is Suicide's An Alternative / You'll Be Sorry, another track containing rapid yet smooth guitar soloing. But its most interesting aspect is its lyrics - at first listing all of the issues one has to worry about, and suggesting that "Suicide is an Alternative", the speaker "tells a story" about Satan tempting him to take his own life in exchange for a good life in hell - and ultimately, he tells the mean red devil to f*** off. Who would expect that a band named "Suicidal Tendencies" would sing against suicide?

Suicidal Tendencies is full of opinions, anger, wit and great musicianship. Mike Muir's straight-forward, kinetic and full-of-rage ravings, combined with the thrash-ish sound stemming from the instrumentalists gave ST their much lauded sound while the lyrics' focus on (then) modern issues helped spawn further interest. The only real downturn the record contains is its amazingly short length for an LP - as mentioned previously, only 28 minutes. While it turns out to be just enough to show ST's worth (as well as the abrasive nature of hardcore punk music), no room is left for the band to attempt an adventure - although that at least prevented ST from trying something then falling flat on its face. Regardless, Hardcore punk and Thrash Metal fans alike must own a copy of Suicidal Tendencies, and it is a good first album for those who want to delve into either realm. After twenty-six years, it is still a hell of a listen - with the advent of widespread prescription of anti-depressants to kids, higher government intervention and , tracks such as Institutionalized and Memories of Tomorrow ring truer than ever.


Recommended Tracks:

Suicide's An Alternative/You'll Be Sorry
I Shot The Devil
I Saw Your Mommy
Institutionalized


user ratings (268)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
VTK
December 27th 2009


76 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

4th!

I've only recently started getting into Hardcore Punk, but I decided to write about this one, anyways. Feedback is appreciated.



TheSpirit
December 27th 2009


17927 Comments


good review but italicize song titles instead of bold.

Digging: Wreodan Heahl - Laecig

VTK
December 28th 2009


76 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

>good review but italicize song titles instead of bold.

Sounds like an idea I'll try out next time.

>should of asked for a superior Coke

vouch

Wizard
December 28th 2009


19491 Comments


One thing to keep in mind, keep the formating of album names the same. You have a few in italics and a few underlined; I would just stick with the italics. Also, I wouldn't bold song titles or italicize them, just use "_____" to place marginal emphasis on them.

Review was very well written and I applaud you for recognizing one of the founders of punk/ thrash collaborations. How Will I Laugh Tomorrow... is awesome and I still need to hear this.

Digging: Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

TheSpirit
December 28th 2009


17927 Comments


What Wizard said ^

Wizard
December 28th 2009


19491 Comments


Sorry, I didn't mean to go against what you said (just read that now).

LepreCon
December 28th 2009


4139 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good to see this finally has a review, I was just about to fix that but oh well good review.

Murderfists
December 28th 2009


17 Comments


I first heard "All I wanted was a Pepsi" from Jon Davis of Korn on the track "All in the Family--" also happened to be my first MP3 download.

Then I heard Instutionalized and felt like I knew something that a lot of other people didn't.

I liked this CD a lot. I didn't really think anyone else much liked ST. I'll definately go back and give this a listen--especially with it's 28 minute play time.

I agree with VTK though. Glad it's short and sweet instead of long and crappy.

VTK
December 29th 2009


76 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Wizard: Yeah, I mixed up the formatting a bit. Guess it made things a little bit confusing. I've fixed that issue on the review I did yesterday and will keep that in mind.

As for everyone else, thanks for the feedback thus far.

JustDont
January 28th 2010


125 Comments


I Saw Your Mommy is pretty much a masterpiece and has always been my favorite song by them.

KILL
May 17th 2011


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it rules

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

MO
May 17th 2011


18854 Comments


Diggin' your dig KILL, well what I can find from it.

KILL
May 17th 2011


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

dude yes best album ever

KILL
May 17th 2011


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

just realised i saw your mommy is the same chord progression as she hates me by that gay band i forgot who but yea

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
May 17th 2011


20984 Comments


I need to hear this, I've only heard How Will I Laugh Tomorrow.

KILL
May 17th 2011


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

that rules but this is more hardcore crazy shit

KILL
May 17th 2011


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

puddle of mud i remember them lol gay why do bands like that even exist

VeilOfOsiris
May 17th 2011


380 Comments


I'm not crazy! Institutionalized! Your the one who's crazy! Institutionalized! They put me in an Institution said it's the only solution.

KILL
May 17th 2011


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fuckin right

Leviathan8937
July 20th 2011


264 Comments


"All is wanted was a pepsi ,just a pepsi"

That my favorite quote of this album , I love this LP but I Prefer the works that they made in 1989 and in 1990

Possdata: When I heard I saw your mommy I wanted to put an atomic bomb in a concert of puddle of mudd because I discover that their most famous song is a cynic ripoff.



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