Review Summary: The Art of Rebellion is ST's most experimental album, throwing in some pop and alternative elements, but still results in a top notch record.
Suicidal Tendencies deserve credit as being one of the more versatile bands of the past century. They started out as a hardcore punk band, then moved across a hide plane of crossover, thrash metal, funk metal and alternative metal. The Art of Rebellion falls in the last genre I listed, alternative metal. As many Suicidal fans say, this is the band's Black album (reffering to Metallica's 1991 controversial album). It was their most successful commercially and most fans liked it even though it was pretty different from the group's past work.
Released in 1992, The Art of Rebellion was not a fast paced crossover album, nor a thrash album. Mike Muir's singing is more relaxed and less agressive, although that does not mean its bad. The playing on this album is arguably the band at its best. The playing has a progressive sound to it, which gives it a more alternative sound than a heavy metal sound. Some even argue that this might be their poppiest album to date. This may be the true reason the album reached to #52 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold.
At the time, ST's "classic line-up" was broken when RJ Herrera left the band, and was replaced temporarily by session drummer Josh Freese. He provides good drumming and is a good replacement. It may be safe to say that this is ST's final album that was great. The next album was pretty lame, despite a few cool moments, and their return in 1999 and 2000 just made me wish Mike Muir wouldn't have reunited the band unless all the original members were back.
The album begins with "Can't Stop", which first minute starts with Muir spewing out spoken words. The song then breaks into a heavy breakdown before going into the actual singing. This song alone is a sign of how the rest of the album will sound.
Mike Muir's voice has greatly evolved from his angry and angsty voice from ST's early days. Although Muir doesn't sing as heavy as he did on previous records, it doesn't stop songs like "Accept My Sacrifice", "We Call This Mutha Revenge" and "Gotta Kill Captain Stupid" from being the heaviest tracks on the album. Muir shines well on singing melodically on this album. "Tap into the Power", "Monopoly on Sorrow" and "I Wasn't Meant to Feel This/Asleep at the Wheel" are prime examples of Muir's new talent.
The playing on this album is anything but bad, and is even experimental in nature. "Monopoly on Sorrow" and "I'll Hate You Better" offer an acoustic guitar playing along with the electric. "Which Way to Free"" has a funk metal influence from bassist Robert Trujillo, who was playing with Muir in the funk metal band Infectious Grooves. Rhythm guitarist Mike Clark is also great at quick power chords, and even does some soloing himself.
Lead guitarist Rocky George provides epic guitar work, and the solos on "I'll Hate you Better", "Nobody Hears" and "Where's the Truth" are amazing. In particular, the latter 2 songs solos are among the best I've ever heard in the entire genre of rock.
The Art of Rebellion was a different, but great, metal album for Suicidal Tendencies. While the album turned some off, it helped strengthen the bond between the band and to the more loyal fans, as well as introducing them to a wider audience. After this album, the band began to grow disconnected from the music industry and felt they were being isolated from their underground roots while simataneously being treated like 2nd class band from other bands and touring circuits. This led to the band eventually calling it quits.
ST is still around to this day, and although I admire that they still tour, I feel they will never be the same.