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.
Snarl is the hardcore love child of Cam McBain and Parker Cannon, the agitated step-son is an understatement as Snarl taps into the vein of what makes hardcore a standout piece of the spotlight. The short tracks that barely reach over a minute, the louder-than-life movements, the rough approaches, it is a world of pure chaos and hellish intent. Snarl takes the ship into a nosedive, cracking the Earth in a fiery, five-minute assault.
Angry, Vengeful, and a blast of energy, Snarl moves creeping along in their genius-esque starting track, “Intro” is a slow crawl toward a soon corrosive goal. “Intro” is the first lighting of the fuse that eventually leads to the explosion of “Waste”, and “Tear You Apart”, two tracks that when put together are just barely shy of the two-minute mark. The four-track demo is more of a rush when played back to back and explored multiple times through the crushing introduction to the final blast of notes. “Waste” is a thirty-second run through of punishing flames and segues well into “Tear You Apart” where both tracks act as a single entity; never missing a beat and connecting almost symbiotically. The methods of execution used are primarily hardcore two-step percussive beats and blazing guitar with vocals ripped straight from a screaming textbook.
The last track, “Rose” however mixes the final moments and feels like a recap of what was just witnessed. Demo concludes on using “Rose” to be the first and only solo piece on the guitar where Cannon moves expertly through the fret board, but still keep the same claustrophobic feel that Snarl packs so well into a track. Snarl is an intense mix and not for the faint of heart, the five long minutes are calls for more that so desperately need to be answered.
While Demo is just a short exhibition of what both Cam McBain and Parker Cannon can do, it is still worth mentioning that their style is one that falls into the shape of hardcore.
The modern-day Renaissance Man; Tyler, The Creator acts as a writer, producer, video director, runway producer, fashion designer, musician, and finally artist. Tyler burst on the scene like a flash of lighting, becoming a major staple in hip-hop music, the TV screens, and a spotlight for his bold movements that caused both a wave of controversy, but also a wave of fans. The man with the most loyal fans, the ones that will cherish what he makes till the end, the ones that sell his creations out in less than an hour, the ones that think he is the second coming, the ones that devote their life to him, Tyler, The Creator is a genius in his craft and a true treasure in self-expression.
His newest record, Flower Boy is a leap from his sound both: five, three, and even last year. Tyler is instead opting to make Flower Boy have some resemblance to his 2015 release, Cherry Bomb, but does not have the same brash lyrical style or themes. Flower Boy is about his growth and where his personal thoughts leak into what he believes will happen with the future. His opening track “Foreword” is explanatory of his ability to stick as the individual and how he begins to question what is in store for him in the incoming days of his fame. Tyler asks, “How many cars can I buy ‘til I run out of drive, how much drive can I have ‘til I run out of road, how much road can they pave ‘til I run out of land, how much land can there be until I run in the ocean?”. Tyler does not question his ideas or the way he reached this superstardom, but he does start to question what is in store next. Tyler has done incredible things through his career and he still has so much time to still create and display his artistic reach, with Flower Boy he changes the formula and displays a swerving motion toward making sheer beauty through his string sections and personal ideas.
Tyler, The Creator has been able to create approachable and relatable stories without sacrificing his level of monetary wealth, or his level of fame. Flower Boy is no different and lets the personal flood gates open even more, letting the audience gain peeks into the truth behind what Tyler sees himself as. Even on his opening track “Foreword” with Rex Orange County, Rex explains, “And if I down and don’t come back, who’s gonna know? And if I crash and don’t come back, who’s gonna know? And if I fall and don’t come back, who’s gonna know? I’m wondering if I don’t come back, maybe then I’ll know”. Rex Orange County includes this level of self-questioning, but also a level of beauty behind the visions as well. His voice is like a guiding motion of the inner conscious that we all share, the voice in the head that questions what would happen if we just fell off the Earth tomorrow. This is the forward questioning that is present through most of Flower Boy and while the overall method that Flower Boy is presented in is gorgeous, Flower Boy is actually slightly paranoid, schizophrenic, and angered. Even when buried underneath all that beauty, there is still demons that Tyler brings to the table.
The following track, “See You Again” is one where Tyler calls on the use of Kali Uchis once again to create these dreamscapes of vivid angelic voices to create a sense of hope behind Tyler’s original message on his previous tracks. “See You Again” was one of the tracks that stood out for the way that it rises in emotion from the string sections of a loving embrace to the then booming 808’s when Tyler finally takes up the rhyming mantle. The opening of the track is something that is simple, but incredibly catchy as well, “20/20 20/20 vision, Cupid hit me, Cupid hit me with precision, eye, wonder if you look both ways when you cross my mind. I’m sick of chasing, you’re the one that’s always running through my day dreams, I can only see your face when I close my eyes”. This is then the segue for Kali Uchis to come in and beg, “Can I get a kiss and can you make it last forever”. There is an unbelievable contrast between “See You Again” and the following track, “Who Dat Boy” which was one of the singles featured that accompanied a visual as well.
From the beauty to the dirty, Tyler moves quickly into the following tracks of Flower Boy with the three other singles that he released, “Boredom”, “I Ain’t Got Time”, and “911 / Mr. Lonely” where Tyler, The Creator continues to switch his style from the calm and collected to the rapid and sporadic style that he adapted from earlier in his career. But the track that comes much later, “November” is one of the tracks that standout for showing Tyler’s insecurities and what he thinks about himself. “November” acts as a mirror where Tyler can analyze his life, choices, and the decisions that those made around him, Tyler begins “What if Clancy fuckin’ me over? What if ‘Who Dat Boy’ is rhetorical and this shit is over? What if I’m hustling backwards?”. But Tyler also uses “November” as a way to illustrate how November stands for a great moment in your life, or a time where everything fell into place. He uses his friends on the interlude of fragmented voices to display a time where they explain, “My November was those Odd Future Sundays, where we used to skate all day” or “My November was seeing Erykah Badu perform”.
“November” is otherwise quite beautiful, but Tyler then explains, “Take me back, take me back, I ain’t doing fine, lost my mothafuckin’ mind. Time travel back and help me find, take me back, take me back to November, this I know… ‘My November is right now’”. Tyler then leads into one of the final tracks of Flower Boy, “Glitter” which is a firework explosion of a track that sends Flower Boy onto its final departure. The soft funk style and the dreamy guitar is simply gorgeous, as well as the tempo changes that take “Glitter” into slow motion, almost showing the slowing motion of Flower Boy and how it has reached its final moments. Tyler explains on the final verse, “We can track 10 skip trace, I’m caught in your quicksand, wait, please don’t save me”.
Flower Boy is a step away from what Tyler was doing two years ago, four years, ago, and even last year. He moves so well and produces himself in a way that is approachable to any listener that has seen his older releases to his newest. Tyler, The Creator makes beautiful music, and his final moments on Flower Boy are just the icing that carries him into the next adventure like the wind and seeds. Flower Boy is hopefully not an end for the artist, but a short blooming that can grow into a long-term relationship with himself and his own ideas.
Bill got some words of wisdom for the kids // Listen Here