The trouble with reviewing albums by such established acts as Suicidal Tendencies is that it is so easy to compare where they are now to what you consider to be their classic album. Both myself and my colleague Daibhead both instantly did this with Daibhead saying this was the best album since The Art of Rebellion. For me it will always be Lights…Camera…Revolution.
I always think that music is never in isolation and there is always a context that it lives in, which is why it is never right to compare albums of one time to another in that way. LCR will always be one of the greatest albums of all time for me, it came at a time in my life and time in recent social history which means the times and the music are forever intertwined. Back in 1990 we were just starting to really be exposed to what up until then had been unattainable American culture, The Simpsons was in its infancy, we had just got satellite TV and Saturday mornings were taken up with WWF. From the States I was introduced to a world of heavy thrash guitars and guys in shorts always pictured in perfect sunshine and it seemed a million miles away. But Suicidal Tendencies had something to say, about the world, about my life and it is that which drew me in.
Fast forward a lifetime and there is only one member of that band still left but the sound of the band is intact and that member is no other than ‘Cyco Mike’ Muir, the man who at 15 I would have happily have sent all my money too. Their last album 13 showed signs of ST being back to their best with a classic sound but with the World Gone Mad I think they really have released one of their best albums in years.
It is actually their social commentary on this album that probably attracts me the most so it is with some surprise that I am going to start with talking about “Clap Like Ozzy” which is about as far away from this as it is possible to go. But serves to highlight that other side of ST. They were always less serious than their colleagues of the time and less Zany and more mates messing about that Anthrax always came across for me. It was tongue firmly in cheek.
So the album starts with the fabulous “Clap Like Ozzy”, the double speed punk drums and repetitive lyrics initially remind me of NOFX. Its fast, it’s fun, it party nonsensical, its Suicidal Tendencies. It’s not the only track on the album that would definitely appeal to the teenage me. “One Finger Salute” is simply as good as the title suggests it’s going to be. I mean it has to be a great song to be so bold doesn’t it? The slightly military drums, and punctuated lyrical style soon turns into what will be a mosh pit classic. The guitars are vamped up, punchy and energetic and lyrically just pure fun. ’Stand Tall and hold you head high, raise your fist and point a finger to the sky’.
But this would not be the classic Suicidal Tendencies album I am writing it up to be, if they a) didn’t have an absolute stand out single and b) they didn’t have more to say. This starts on such a track as “The New Degeneration”. This may not be overly political but Mike Muir seems to be challenging today’s youth to take up his mantel, to challenge the status quo, to do what the youth should do; shake up things. It also contains one of my favourite solos of the album. That stand out track is “Get Your Fight On!”. From the melodic guitar intro and gently sung vocals to the rap metal style opening verse, this is just a pure great song. The energy in those words, despite the laid back guitar is inspiring. Naturally about one third of the way through, the whole track is vamped up a level and this is where it really takes off. It’s the guitar riff on the chorus that is just so addictive and will get your heart pumping every time. This is fighting talk, after all Cyco Mike is challenging you to Get your fight on.
I think for me the theme of the album can pretty much summed up by the following track “World Gone Mad” with it’s the whole world’s going insane opening refrain. I think it sums up the times perfectly. Add to that the funkiness of the track and the call and reply catchiness of the verses and it’s another perfect track.
So Suicidal Tendencies are back and are yet another giant of metal making relevant music today. So it may not be quite so full of messages as Dave Mustaine’s latest offering, but this is Suicidal Tendencies more fun and laid back take on things. Does it surprise me that this is a great album? Never; the times are confusing for a lot of people and bands of these era always had an opinion and now it’s needed again. There’s no preaching, just a senses that we are all in it together and a whole lot of fun.