Friday, July 5, 2013

Suicidal Tendencies - Suicidal Tendencies

In 1981, the Los Angeles crossover thrash (i.e. punk metal) band Suicidal Tendencies was formed. The line-up at the start was Mike Muir (lead vocals), Grant Estes (guitar), Louiche Mayorga (bass and backing vocals) and Amery Smith (drums). Today (July 5th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of their self-titled debut album from 1983.

Side one starts with “Suicide’s an Alternative / You’ll Be Sorry”. The track opens with almost thirty seconds of guitar grinding and wild laughter. It then kicks into a high gear with rapid-fire music and shouting back and forth between Muir and Mayorga. The last half then gets a bit of a melody.

“Two Sided Politics” continues the frantic pacing of music and vocals. The song is only a minute long, so listening to it over and over again to get the message is not too much to ask.

“I Shot the Devil” was originally entitled “I Shot Reagan” (and that is the opening line), but the band changed it when they recorded it.

“Subliminal” is about hidden messages flashed up on the television screen briefly to influence the thoughts of the viewers. I like this one because the band actually uses time to flesh the song out with a variety of musical movements.

“Won’t Fall in Love Today”, possibly the first example of speed dating I have ever run across, is another one minute track.

“Institutionalized” was released as a single; although it failed to hit the charts its video get a lot of airplay on MTV. The lyrics are spoken and tell the tale of a teenager who has some problems that lead to conflict with his friends and his parents. My first exposure to this one came from playing Guitar Hero II in 2006 with my son.

Side two opens with “Memories of Tomorrow”, yet another one minute long track.

“Possessed” perfectly sums up the music on this album; the guys play as if they were indeed overcome by some otherworld rock demons.

The band finally slows down on “I Saw Your Mommy”, with a song resembles musically for me groups like the Kinks. The lyrics, like most of the album, falls to the dark side with a story about discovering a kid’s mother dead and mutilated in the street.

“Fascist Pig” makes an angry political statement.

“I Want More” lays out simple life demands, rattled off from a long list. I like how they contrast the rhythms on this one, going from a slow melodic chorus to a more frantic follow up verse.

The album closes with “Suicidal Failure”, where a teen turns to God to profess his inability to kill himself. The opening guitar solo is fantastic.

Suicidal Tendencies definitely falls outside of my normal music listening spheres. I could certainly see how it appealed to teens and young adult males back in the early 80’s, but it was too dark and angry for my tastes. Despite that, these nineteen and twenty-year old guys showed some amazing musical chops - it has to be difficult to perform that fast and still be that accurate.

1 comment:

HERC said...

"Institutionalized" first showed up on my radar on the soundtrack of Repo Man in 1984. Borrowed the soundtrack album from a friend of a friend and taped that song and the song that preceded it on the album "TV Party" by Black Flag.

The band covered their own song (the whole debut album, actually) ten years later - I picked up that CD dirt cheap but was disappointed in new version and it is no longer in my collection. Might be the only CD I ever threw away.

Most of the people I know, you for example, first heard the song in either Guitar Hero II (sadly, a sound-a-like version like most songs in that game) or a couple of years later in Iron Man, in the scene where Tony is working on his hot rod.

The image on that original 1983 album cover, with the boys in the band hanging upside down, always stuck with me so I chuckled a little to myself when Alan Parsons's Try Anything Once came out and it had vaguely similar cover art.