Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Review #124: Suicidal Tendencies - Suicidal Tendencies (1983)


Year: 1983
Genre: Punk Rock
Frontier Records
28 Minutes
My Rating:

Suicidal Tendencies is a hardcore punk/heavy metal band from southern California that formed in 1981. Originally voted "WORST NEW BAND" by Flipside magazine, the band mainly played shows at various house parties around their area, and early on were supposedly notorious for gang violence allegedly interspersed into the crowds. The singer, who is now known as Cyco Miko was at this point known as "Suicidal Mike". The band was not extremely popular, but that changed when the group released their first album.

It was called "Suicidal Tendencies" (creative, huh?), and it quickly earned the band fame, mainly because they made a music video for their most famous song, "Institutionalized", which was one of the first (but not THE first) hardcore music videos to be featured on MTV regularly. This album has more of a plain hardcore sound, rather than the thrash/metal/funk style they would mainly espouse later on. The themes in the album are pretty typical for an early '80s punk record, such as hating Ronald Reagan, wanting to commit suicide, and hating your parents, but they're written in a way that does sound sincere.

1. Suicide's An Alternative/You'll Be Sorry

Begins with Mike cackling and screaming, as lots of ominous and destructive sounds are evoked from the band's instruments. Whaddaya know, it's another fast one-two'er... Mike shouts a line like "SICK OF CHICKS, SICK OF LIFE, etc.", and Louiche (the bassist) shouts back in the other ear the reason that he's sick of things. Basically, Mike's fucking sick of things. A lot of things that I'm sick of, also. "Sick of music -- top 40 sucks"... see, it always has! Hahah. Now for "You'll Be Sorry" -- the song slows down and Mike "tells a little story".

2. Two Sided Politics

"I'm not anti-society, society's anti-me; I'm not anti-religion, religion's anti-me; I'm not anti-everything, I just wanna be free!" This song has a fucking great beat. A great fuck-off to the paranoid suburban parents of the '80s (and now).

3. I Shot the Devil

Of course, the devil here is none other than Ronald Reagan. Starts with a slow intro, and then a very fast verse and chorus. Not only does he shoot Reagan, but also Sadat, John Lennon, and the Pope! And for their grand prize, instead of burning in Hell, they get to "rot in Heaven" because "you're forgiven in Hell." Mike laughs like a psycho (or should I say Cyco?) more.

4. Subliminal

There are slight heavy metal elements to this song. The verse is slow and the chorus is fast. This song's about how Mike thinks that he's been receiving subliminal messages from the government through his television set. Who knows, maybe we all are? I like the interaction between Mike's vocals and Louiche's vocals during the chorus section.

5. Won't Fall in Love Today

FAST! AWESOME RIFF! Mike sings about how even though he likes a girl that he "won't fall in love today". It's pretty short.

6. Institutionalized

The band's most famous song. Slow verse, fast chorus. The lines in the verse sections are spoken, but in the lines in the chorus are chanted. The song is based around a story about a kid arguing with his parents who think he's going insane because he doesn't act quite 'normal', so they go nuts themselves and throw him in a mental institution. Who's crazy again? Anyways, the verse section slowly builds up and becomes faster and more rage-y, until it's ready to escalate into the thrashy, aggressive chorus! The line "all I wanted was a Pepsi" is still famous as hell after nearly 30 years. The music video for this song is very funny and should be watched at least once be everyone. "I WENT TO YOUR SCHOOLS, I WENT YOUR CHURCHES, I WENT TO YOUR INSTITUTIONAL LEARNING FACILITIES, SO HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT I'M CRAZY??!!"... End of Side 1, kidz.

7. Memories of Tomorrow


8. Possessed

Funky lead-guitar melody in the verse part. This song's about going crazy and thinking you're possessed by demons because you can't stop feeling pain.

9. I Saw Your Mommy

The verse iz slow, and the chorus is fast. I really like the verse riff. The lyrics are a semi-humorous story about a kid who paid another person to kill his own mother, when Mike finds her dead body turning up in the middle of the streets. "I took a picture 'cause I thought it looked neat". Longest song on the album.

10. Fascist Pig

The intro riff borders on speed-metal. This song's a satire on fucking riot cops who beat the shit out of anyone who stands in their/the government's way. They're just a bunch of violent mental hicks who want an excuse to be thugs but too pussyish to risk government persecution. WHAT FUN! "They'll beat your brains until they spill: that's the fascist's favorite meal!"

11. I Want More

For the first time in recorded history, we hear Mike's softer "singing voice". In the slow intro, he sings about how he feels that life could be better than it is. Then he rises up into the fast main section of the song. It may sound selfish, but these are lyrics I find truth in: why should we all slave away at fucking meaningless jobs for corporations just to get by in life? I WANT MORE. I REALLY DO.

12. Suicidal Failure

This song's a slow downer of a song about a 19-year-old kid who's so bored of his mediocre way of life that he wants to die -- he keeps trying, but he just can't seem to succeed. Is he meant to live or die? That is what is not quite answered, but it seems that Mike just wants to die. To be honest, sometimes I've felt the same, but there are things I still have not done that keep me going... but I don't know if I ever will be able to.

Yeah, so the band's name and the album's name both come from a single line in the final song. Cool, eh? I dunno. It's a good album, though, and it is now considered a hardcore punk classic by most. In some ways it completely embodies the spirit of early '80s suburban west-coast punk -- you'll hear tales of fear, violence, suicide, anger, fury, and insanity. Many times I wish life could be more exciting like that. Computers and adult society have torn us all apart in many ways. A new scene run by outcasts, for outcasts, with danger, anger, fun, recklessness... nobody seems to care about those things anymore. Or they think it's all unrealistic or childish. Makes me mad, sometimes. Well, yes, it's a good album by a good band. Their later work would become more heavy metal-oriented, and by the early '90s there were a lot of funk elements as well (Mike eventually started a new side band called Infectious Grooves which mainly played funk-metal). So yeah, check it out if you're interested. But now, I must be going, so drink your Pepsi and have a nice day!

Top 3 Favorites:

1. Subliminal
2. Two-Sided Politics
3. I Saw Your Mommy


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