Suicidal Tendencies - '13' (Suicidal Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Matt Phelps   
Monday, 20 May 2013 02:00

ST13coverIron Maiden changed my life but Suicidal saved it! True fact. When Mike Muir and his bandana clad merchants of Venice Beach broke out of the madhouse and into my mind in 1988 my dark, directionless, teenage rampage suddenly found a guiding light. Hearing 'Trip At The Brain' when I was, was my introduction to a band that shaped my life and outlook more than any other besides Maiden. Finally getting to see them live when I was 15, promoting the 'Lights, Camera, Revolution' album on the 1990 'Clash of the Titans' tour alongside Slayer, Megadeth and Testament sealed my conversion to the cause. Witnessing Muir's insane live performance felt like electric and although they were the lowest band on the bill they left the deepest impression on me. There are precious few albums I have listened to more than the seminal '88 classic 'How Will I Laugh Tomorrow' and nothing soundtracked my '90s more than 'Lights, Camera....' and 'The Art Of Rebellion'. To this day they are still THE band that make my heartbeat the fastest, they make me "come alive" and new album '13' is the sound of band still as relevant (to me at least and I hope everyone else) today as they were 25 years ago.


This new album certainly has been a long time coming. Though there have been several Suicidal releases in recent years focusing on re-recordings, early songs and solo projects ('Year Of The Cycos' - 2008, 'No Mercy Fool / The Suicidal Family' - 2010, 'The Mad Mad Muir Musical Tour' - 2011) '13' stands as the first full album of all new material (13 tracks) for a staggering 13 years, see what they did there? It seems like only yesterday I was snatching 'Free Your Soul... And Save My Mind' off the shelf in my then local HMV store, ripping off the plastic and delving into the brand new music and Muir's potent lyricism.


With Suicidal the lyrics are every bit as important as the music, maybe more so. Mike Muir's brutally upfront words have been, as I'm sure they have been for plenty of people, something of a medication for me over the years. When I say they saved my life I don't say it lightly. My moods swing more than a couple with a liking for car keys and I have Suicidal Tendencies tattooed on my arm as a reminder that my connection to their music runs deeper than just idle idol worship, it's part of me. They keep me grounded and to some extent calm, in a cyco sort of way. So, as with every other ST release before it my first stop with '13' (after slamming the disc into the CD player) was to liberate the booklet from the case and start scanning the lyrics.


Shouts of "SUICIDAL'S BACK!" litter the opening call to arms blast of 'Shake It Out'. An uplifting injection of Suicidal pride surging between a barrage of frantic riffs that hail the ultimate comeback. "It's time to work the demons on out!" Hell yes, it's good to be back in therapy with Dr Muir. Fast, furious, infectious, if anyone is new to the party they're brought up to speed real quick. Nostalgic nods to past lyrics pick out classic moments and scatter them throughout the golden opening. Cycos, a Suicidal Maniac, even a request for a Pepsi, all be it a diet Pepsi these days ;-)


'Smash It!' follows, lurching into the fray, chasing 'Shake It Out' down the straight like a rabid dog. A three minute shot of adrenaline to leave you foaming at the mouth. 'This Ain't A Celebration' keeps the pace at a neck breaking speed. A swirling cyc(o)lone of frenetic energy that has Muir bouncing off the walls and tearing up the floorboards. Lyrically typical Muir, a defiant fight-til-the-end vibe running through the tune. This opening trio of tracks are as good and as strong as anything from Suicidal's past bodies of work and I don't say that lightly. They hit a vein with me, they're addictive and the more I play them (and I've played them a lot already) the more I love them. The fire within the ST beast certainly hasn't diminished over the years, it's just got more focused and intense.


Original Infectious Groover and long time ST six stringer Dean Pleasants helps pump some infectaphibian blood into 'Till My Last Breath', and lyrically, as usual, there's some typically fine writing from Mike Muir's pen, words dancing skillfully around the funk groove that drives the defiant breakdown forward. 'Who's Afraid?' also shows those funky colours, throwing up subtle psychedelic washes over a tripped out background. But never a band to sit still in the same place for too long current live favourite 'Slam City' is back at the heavier end of the spectrum, concrete riffs building a soundscape of chaos that positively defines '13'. Big, brash, inescapable, the entire sound of the album, again produced by long time Suicidal partner Paul Northfield, demands to be heard, there's no ignoring it.


Undoubtedly this will be my final choice for my own personal album of the year. Yes, I am a little biased saying that as Suicidal are one of my favourite bands but this type of stuff is the very reason I love what they do so much. For each track they take '13' to insanity and beyond, combining all the elements that I have loved about their output over the years. Violent, funky, hardcore and heartfelt they successfully marry together this collection songs seamlessly. '13' flows like a natural champion. Charged with energy and mixing the brutal delivery of their early days with the crossover appeal of later albums the Kings of Los Angeles are most definitely still a force to be reckoned with in 2013.


To pick up your copy of '13' - CLICK HERE