Sadistic, aggressive, but still progressive, Suicidal Tendencies were one of the forefronts for Thrash Music as a genre and their debut, Self-Titled released in 1983 was a calling to the angst-ridden hell raisers that took a step away from conformity; following the punk legends that paved the way before them. The anti-political, anti-systematic, and anti-propaganda methods were used as hidden tools in the aid of Suicidal Tendencies power climb to the top of the food chain in a punk/metal crossover that turned some heads. With a fist full of swift street justice, and a mind full of self-conscious thoughts, Suicidal Tendencies’ Self-Titled debut became one of the greatest selling punk records of all time and turned a new leaf of followers of the New, more assertive Army.
The double-sided opening track “Suicide’s an Alternative / You’ll Be Sorry” is a maniacal introduction to a truly mad group of pissed-off pushers with Mike Muir at Suicidal Tendencies’ vocal aspect, Grant Estes on the guitar, Louiche Mayorga pushing forward with the bass and backing vocals, finally; Amery Smith controls the percussion and is the maestro behind the incredible controlled chaos that is Suicidal Tendencies. Bursting like lightning onto the scene, Suicidal Tendencies uses varying tempo changes, varying degrees of intensity through vocal progression, and hardcore percussive and bass rhythm grooves that flip the script and show a real prowess behind the youth of yesteryear. The Reagan-Era kids share no mercy when it comes to displaying their political mindset, as well as displaying their stunning disdain for the general population as described on “Suicide’s an Alternative”, Muir begins with stating, “Sick of trying, what’s the point. Sick of talking, no one listens. Sick of listening, it’s all lies. Sick of thinking, just end up confused…Sick of politics, for the rich. Sick of power, only oppresses. Sick of government, full of tyrants. Sick of school, total brainwash. Sick of music, top 40 sucks”. Suicidal Tendencies captures the eternal scream of the youth and how they are sick of being forced to live in a world they did not create around them, and their themes continue through all of their Self-Titled debut.
Even as Suicidal Tendencies continues on through several tracks, such standout songs as “Two Sided Politics”, “I Shot [Reagan] The Devil”, and even the favorite of “Subliminal” which discusses the incredibly paranoid, but conscious Mike Muir describing how the “Flashing pictures on my screen, shown too quickly to be seen. Does not register in my conscious mind, propaganda of another kind”. Behind the paranoid and suspicious language used by Muir, there is also a level of consciousness that follows his words as well. A certain truth that Muir uses as the Suicidal Mantra, almost inviting others to open their metaphorical eyes and see deeper than what is laid in the foreground. It is an outsider’s look on the world and this is apparent especially on the earlier track, “Two-Sided Politics” which is a frantic assault musically, but lyrically it is almost as standoffish as the music. Muir explains, “Fascist state, no freedom. Unless you control yourself, use self-expression, lose your freedom, you’re undesirable, you go straight to jail. Kill someone in a war, get a medal you’re a hero. Protect yourself in every day war, you’re undesirable you go straight to jail.” The Standoffish themes are continually present and Suicidal Tendencies use their iconic style to become hellish, aggressive, and relatable.
Even as the midpoint of the Self-Titled adventures displays, Suicidal Tendencies moves efficiently and takes the 28-minute slugfest in a cynical style with “Possessed”, “I Saw Your Mommy…” and even “Fascist Pig” where Muir takes his lyrical output to a new level where he describes almost sarcastically that he “Love(s) to fight, what a thrill. We don’t stop until we kill; I want to be a fascist pig”. The varying level of song length is also a factor that aids in the sudden bleeding of Suicidal Tendencies’ punk outlet. Striking fear into the hearts of the unknown, Suicidal Tendencies cuts like a sharpened blade into the eyes of those who never see. They act like marauders for the commoners, attacking the higher-ups in government and opposition. The final moments of their Self-Titled debut are a sullen, but shriek through the moments of unbreakable silence. The final track “Suicidal Failure” echoes as a recapturing tool for Suicidal Tendencies, encasing the ghoulish lyrics, the thumping percussion and bass, and the rough guitar that cries in anguish. Suicidal Tendencies are an emotional group, one that is explained in the final track, “Suicidal Failure” as Muir beckons, “I’m tired of this way of life, my patience has expired. I’m barely just twenty, but my life I will retire. I went down to a rifle store, I bought myself a gun. I point it at my head but I couldn’t get the job done…” Muir then goes on with his depressed style to state, “I’m a suicidal failure, I’ve got to get some help. I have suicidal tendencies but I can’t kill myself”. The track when read acts almost as a cry for help, but when transcribed with the musical sections it becomes much easier to digest. The repetition of the phrase “Suicidal, Suicidal, Suicidal, Suicidal” is unsettling, but none is a better fit to the destructive masterpiece as Suicidal Tendencies’ Self-Titled debut.
Hellish, Strong, and Brash, Suicidal Tendencies go down in history as the progressive pushers in music for their rough, but comedic lyrical style and relatable anti-social views. From the outside looking in, Suicidal Tendencies needs some serious mental help, but from the inside looking out, they probably think the same thing.