Hopefully, everyone out there will realize how important it is that there’s a new Suicidal Tendencies record out. The 1990s were a strange time for frontman Mike Muir and Suicidal Tendencies. After kind of dominating the 1980s hardcore/punk scene, someone got the idea that ST should be promoted like the speed metal band they weren’t. The results were spectacular, as Lights, Camera, Revolution , a metal album, got the band their first or two Grammy nominations. But it seemed that the metal version of Suicidal Tendencies conflicted with their hardcore values. That is, being on stage with the likes of Exodus, for instance, put too much glitz in a band whose message didn’t necessarily mesh well with the hugeness of metal. At least that’s my take on things.
Suicidal Tendencies is one of the most important hardcore bands in my life. Their 1983 song “Institutionalized,” which may be found on their debut album or the Repo Man soundtrack (it appears in the film, too), is probably the most at-the-core hardcore punk songs ever recorded. Musically, it’s an amalgam of bad tuning and a migraine headache. But, if you’ll indulge me, the lyrics are heart-stopping: “I was in my room…thinking about nothing…and my mom came in the room and asked me what I was doing… I said ‘nothing mom, I’m just thinking,’ and she said ‘you’re not thinking, you’re on drugs!’ I said, ‘no, mom, I’m not on drugs, why don’t you go get me a Pepsi?’ All I wanted was a Pepsi, and she wouldn’t get it for me! Just one Pepsi! ” I first heard the song driving home from my job as a lifeguard in the summer of ’83. My life was changed once again!
It’s 1999, hey-hey… I got the new ST album in my way… Yeah, and it’s back to the egg with this one. The songs are old school HC. Like the title track, with its blazing guitars and talk about freedom vs. Freedumb. “Ain’t Gonna Take It” is like an “Institutionalized” for the new millennium: Mike “Cyco” Muir has been pushed too far! “Scream Out” is a classic release, and “Halfway Up My Head” puts it right back, ready to explode like a hardcore H-bomb.
The two top-Cyco Miko songs have to be “Built To Survive” and “We Are Family.” These two belong in the Load Bearing Equipment of all HC warriors for they get at the soul of what the movement was/is about: to be a punk outsider means you are prepared to live your whole life in constant war with society. And that means you have to stick together, fight together, and die together.
Side One/Dummy, 6201 Sunset Blvd., Ste 211, Hollywood, CA, 90028, http://www.suidicaltendencies.com.