Suicidal Tendencies Showcase The Highlights From All Eras In World Gone Mad
By Jeff Feuerhaken
For those in need of a refresher, Suicidal Tendencies has been providing high energy mosh pit soundtracks since back in the early 80’s, when the band first formed in Venice, CA. Their self-titled ’83 debut is a highly revered and quintessential punk rock staple, inspiring legions of soundalikes and cover songs, by artists such as Ice-T and Slayer (more on Slayer in a bit). Perhaps best known as the guy who only wanted a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, frontman Mike Muir has been the only constant in a group whose revolving doors seem to rotate at breakneck speed. It seems every time ST drops a new album, fans have a whole new list of names to recognize. Some of these names have drifted into obscurity, while others have since gone on to bigger things. For instance, former drummer Jimmy Degrasso went on to play in Megadeth, other former drummer Brooks Wackerman docked in Bad Religion for many years before recently abandoning ship to join Avenged Sevenfold, and former bassist Robert Trujillo bailed out and played with some dude named Ozzy before finally settling on joining a little band called Metallica. Do you see a pattern here? Suicidal Tendencies is the farm league for metal musicians. All this is of note, however, because with World Gone Mad, the brand new album from the Venice locos, the trend has been reversed. Former Slayer drummer (I told you I’d get back to Slayer) Dave Lombardo has joined the fold. And the result?
Heavy. Fast. Thrashy. Heavy. Fast. These are all words that can be used to describe this album. Combine that with ambitious songs with dynamic structures, and you just might be looking at Suicidal Tendencies’ best album since 1990’s classic Lights…Camera…Revolution! Seriously, this is a damn good Suicidal joint. From the album’s opener, the blistering shredder “Clap Like Ozzy” to the driving build of “Damage Control” to the haunting acoustic curtain call, “This World”, the album is chock full of rock. One of the rare Suicidal Tendencies members to hang on for more than one album, Dean Pleasants, definitively makes his mark all over this album. He uses shredfest guitar solos all throughout the songs as a texture, much in the same way ST alum Rocky George did on some of the band’s earlier albums. In most bands this could come across as a little wanky, but in this case, it works. Suicidal has earned the right to show off if they want to. Mike Muir sure as hell ain’t no spring chicken, and the years spent in front of the microphone on various psycho rants are beginning to show in his voice, but damn if he doesn’t have the same intensity he had back in the days of Join The Army. Muir still has that good ol’ thrash edge, and that’s a huge part of what makes Suicidal suicidal. Of course, music fans no doubt want to know about how the drums sound on this album, and I’m happy to report that they won’t be disappointed. The drums are loud, in-your-face, and prominent, both in the mix and in the song structures themselves. There are tons of little drum fills thrown in just so peeps don’t forget that this is the Slayer guy at work here.
For being a thrash record, there’s musicality variation aplenty on World Gone Mad, but the one gripe I had is the lack of variation in song structure. The format in question is thus: start mellow, build, go f#cking apeshit, then mellow out again. This dynamic flow literally happens on 75% of the songs, and while effective, it gets a little tedious after multiple repeats. I like music that keeps me guessing, and this technique felt formulaic. This little qualm did little to influence my opinion of the album on the whole. I’ve absorbed everything Suicidal Tendencies have released since the ’83 debut, and I can truthfully proclaim that the quality of World Gone Mad was a pleasant surprise. It’s no secret that more and more of the thrash pioneers are coming out of the woodwork to stun us all with quality albums, and you can safely add Suicidal Tendencies’ name to that list. Any ST fan, even the old fans who stopped listening in the 90’s when things got a little iffy, needs to give World Gone Mad a shot. It’s a solid, well-produced thrash record that deserves your attention. Besides, we all need to get our psycho on from time to time.