Suicidal Tendencies, ‘13’ – Album Review
When it comes to crossover thrash, it doesn’t get much more influential than Suicidal Tendencies. Formed back in 1981, the band helped pioneer the genre along with groups like D.R.I. and S.O.D. They have split and reunited a few times, and after being back together for several years now have finally released a new album. ’13’ is their first studio effort since 2000’s ‘Free Your Soul…and Save My Mind.’
The band’s current lineup includes founding vocalist Mike Muir and longtime guitarist Dean Pleasants along with more recent additions Nico Santora (guitar), Tim “Rawbiz” Williams (bass) and Eric Moore (drums). Muir is 50 now, but the ferocious frontman hasn’t lost any of his drive or passion.
Suicidal Tendencies aren’t the type of band to make a subtle entrance, and the album opener ‘Shake It Out’ proclaims to the world they have returned. This is not a metaphorical take. They literally chant ‘Suicidal’s back’ throughout the song, and deliver their promise to ‘bring the demons on out.’
The band is at its best when the tempo is cranked up and the guitars are shredding like on ‘Smash It!’ and ‘This Ain’t a Celebration.’ The tunes have an old-school vibe and will undoubtedly get the pit moving on their upcoming tour. Many of the songs on ‘13‘ are in that vein, and they are by far the strongest.
Back in the day, Suicidal would rip through an album in a half hour or so, leaving destruction in their wake. These days, that aggression is still there, but they have expanded and diversified their sound as well. They display their funky side on the nearly six minute ‘God Only Knows…Who I Am,’ with extended instrumental breaks and a catchy chorus.
Not everything on the album works. The slow beginning of ‘Till My Last Breath’ is a bit sluggish, but once the song kicks in, the nasty groove makes you forget the shaky intro. A couple other tunes could probably be classified as filler, and a little trimming would have made ‘13‘ leaner and meaner.
A standout track on the album is ‘Cyco Style,’ which has great riffs and hooks galore while still packing a wallop. The dual guitar attack of Pleasants and Santora gets a workout on the album, with numerous flashy solos along with clever fills and meat and potatoes riffage.
It has been 30 years since Suicidal Tendencies released their self-titled debut, influencing countless bands that followed. Three decades later, the band still portrays plenty of youthful spark and energy on ’13,’ along with the wisdom and maturity that growing up brings.