Release Date: March 26, 2013
I received some rather disturbing news recently. No, it isn’t that Justin Bieber almost got his ass kicked by Keyshawn Johnson over the speeding of his Ferrari around their exclusive community. I actually find this rather amusing on a few levels. It was news I got from a friend of mine that said a movie theater that I spent so many evenings and weekends as a teenager at, was being demolished to make way for a sporting goods store. Ah, so many movies I saw there, or rather would have seen there had I not been too busy making out or getting stoned in the dark.
Hearing something like this makes me long for my lost youth. The best way I have found to remedy my melancholy in times like these is with a grilled cheese sandwich and of course a soda. But, since I have not gone to the store in a few days all I had was apple juice. Good but It’s just not the same. As Suicidal Tendencies said it best in their 1983 song “Institutionalized”– “all I wanted was a Pepsi.”
It was at this point that I recalled I had a copy of their new CD titled “13”. This came out March 26th, of this year of course 2013, has 13 tracks and was 13 years in the making. Ah! And that’s why it’s titled “13”. We’ll just throw them on the originality bus with Black Sabbath and Megadeth.
As I settled in with my sandwich and substandard choice of beverage to listen and review, as well as maybe recapture some of my teenage emotional turmoil that I enjoyed so much, I wondered how the band may have changed over that 13 year span.
Turns out vocalist Mike Muir remains the band’s sole original member. Lead guitarist Dean Pleasants has been shredding the frets since 1997. Drummer Eric Moore has been around since 2008, but the remainder of the line up which includes guitarist Nico Santora, and bassist Steve Brunner are new. Longtime guitarist Mike Clark makes an appearance on four of the album’s 13 tracks. Clark received a head injury during an incident at their May 31, 2012 concert in Santa Cruz, California which resulted in a concussion that also required nine staples to a gash on his head. Ouch. While Brunner recorded the album he has since been replaced by bassist Tim “Rawbiz” Williams who appears for only one track on the record. The band also chose again to use Paul Northfield (Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, Rush) as producer.
I have to say I am pleased as this CD is full of fun bits. Unlike other albums by other musicians (which shall remain nameless) that decided to take ten years to make and gave us a large and disappointing product. Suicidal Tendencies have never been a slap and tickle band and they set the tone on “13” with the uppercut opener, “Shake It Out” which proudly proclaims, “Suicidal’s back!”
The riff lover in me rejoiced over the likes of “This Ain’t a Celebration”, “Smash It!” and “Cyco Style”. I even broke a string on my air guitar as I flailed away in wanton abandon, spilling my juice in the process.
Although we are not given any great angst anthems here as none of the tunes off this CD can evoke the passion of that classic I love so much in “Institutionalized” (sorry guys). I did find enjoyment in a few tracks like “God Only Knows…Who I Am” which has a psychedelic intro and gets a bit funky, and “Who’s Afraid?” with a sound reminiscent of real rockers of the past and remind me of a weird odd mixture of Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” and Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle”. Or I could be insane and hearing things, so please listen to them and then write to me and let me know which it is. Both tracks feature Clark’s fretwork.
“Till My Last Breath” starts out slow and you may think we are headed for some kind of sappy ballad but you’re going to be wrong, so stick it out because it’s worth it. Then we get to the closing track, “This World”, which in this case makes 13 a lucky number and they have truly saved the best for last. With such a fine use of guitar that Hendrix himself would approve. A strong drum beat and down and dirty bass along with lead and back-up vocals that are well constructed makes it all appear seamless.
Muir may be tipping 50, the Suicidal legacy three decades old, and the waistlines slightly expanded, but the sound, the vibe, and the energy remains as funky and powerful as ever.
Rating: 7 out of 10– Even though the cheese in my sandwich got cold and took on that solidified aspect because I got too wrapped up in the CD and I never got the soda I so desperately craved. I did get some bodacious tunes out of it. So, Party on Dudes!