It was with some anxiety I listened to the new Suicidal Tendencies album, simply entitled '13', the first time.
Because I'm not much of a hardcore punk fan, whereas I'm completely in love with 'How Will I Laugh Tomorrow...', 'Controlled By Hatred...', 'Lights...Camera...Revolution', 'The Art of Rebellion' and to some extend 'Suicidal for Life'. I even appreciate some of the material on the 1983 self-entitled debut and 'Join the Army' (the title track is a killer tune!), but they came nowhere near the qualities of the ST releases from 1988 - 1995.
Oh, did I mention that Suicidal Tendencies was the first ever international metal act I saw? 1989, Copenhagen, in support of Anthrax. So, yeah, it's not as if ST don't mean anything to me. I can still get a bit annoyed when I'm reminded about the fact that I missed the first couple of minutes of Muir and the cycos when they opened Clash of the Titans a year or so later, also in Copenhagen! By then, 'Lights...' had just been released and I'd become a big fan. That album struck directly into something I craved musically at the time.
Mike Muir and his trusted accomplice, guitarist Mike Clark, decided at some point after Rocky George and Robert Trujillo had departed that the melodic thrash thing wasn't their thing anymore and boarded the hardcore punk ship once more, something which for me was an unwelcome step back in the past. 'Freedumb' from 1999 to me was a shadow of the ST I loved, and the 'Free Your Soul and Save My Mind' release from 2000 was an even less memorable swan song.
And here we are, thirteen years down the road, and I sit there, again, hoping that this will be the new 'Lights...'. Of course I'm disappointed. It couldn't be otherwise. To be fair, opener Shake It Out actually does have a mid-nineties feel to it, and it's a good song. The second tune you might have seen the video for: Smash It is a high-energy tune with a frantic, insisting riff, and it's really one of the hit songs of the album. The same can be said of Cyco Style which has a riff which you can't stop humming. 'Till My Last Breath' also strikes a chord for this hag, with one of those underplayed, quiet intros ST and Muir do so well, followed by a dose of funk induced metal.
Other than that - I hate to say it - I'm not hugely impressed by the material on '13'. It simply doesn't burn its way into my heart, perhaps because of the hardcore element, even if funk is mixed into it here and there or perhaps because some of the material simply is too weak. We know that it's not because the cycos can't play their instruments, because they can. And it's not because Muir sounds tired, because he doesn't. For someone who turned 50 a month ago, he sounds pretty alive and kicking!
To be fair, '13', for me at least, is a step in the right direction compared to 'Freedumb' and 'Free Your Soul...', but there's still a long way to go before this 'Lights...' fan is truly pleased. It would probably take a return of Mike Clark and Rocky George to get there, and I suppose that's not very likely to ever happen.