Too Punk for Metal fans, Too Metal for Punk fans - that was the problem for Suicidal Tendencies. What were they? A Hardcore Punk band, A Thrash Metal band? No, they were ST, they were Hardcore AND they were Metal.
The speed of their early songs allowed both punk and metal fans to come on board. The brevity of the songs showed they were (American) punks at heart. But as time went on, their songs got longer and more complicated and they became accepted as a Thrash Metal band. What were they? A band that evolved and never chased an audience, yet still stayed true to their roots and their audience - They were a cult band who became (momentarily) big. They lost band members, and recruited more, but always looked like a tight knit tribe - look at the photos - you imagined they would be scary to meet.
And so was their music, scary, exhilarating, without compromise. This was and still is a fearsome band in every way.
The Suicidal Tendencies "family" of bands has grown over the years and as the band has created their own record label, the different bands/side projects/interests have merged, meaning sometimes it is hard to tell one from the other.
Suicidal Tendencies have several "projects" under different pseudonyms, including: Cyco Miko (Mike Muir's solo records - punky, sometimes funny, sometimes wierd. Never the calibre of pre-95 Suicidal Tendencies records) Recommended for hardcore ST fans only. No Mercy (This band pre-dates ST but ST now often record (and re-record) under this name). This is the hardcore punk end of the ST spectrum - similar to early ST (the first two albums).
The Infectious Grooves is the Funk side of ST. This funkiness was first shown on the Lights, Camera, Action album. And IG take it to their extreme. It is often also where ST allow their sense of humour to show.
Friends & Family - several compilation albums have been released with bands included that are on the ST label. Sometimes it is unclear who these bands are and how much Mike Muir is involved. You wonder if he is sometimes playing that Prince role of uncredited Writer/Producer/Band Member?
The changing sound of Suicidal tendencies:
Suicidal tendencies (1983) is full of 2 minute hardcore punk songs, with lots of politics, humour and social commentary thrown in. Only 'Institutionalised' stands out as being a cut above in terms of songwriting. That song and a couple of others showed their ability to write songs that broke out of the harcore punk mode, changing tempo and speed and not relying on the one dimensional sound many US punk bands spent a career following.
However Join The Army (1987), therefore seems like a step backwards. It is far more "old School" hardcore. Short on real songs (with the exception of "Possessed To Skate"). This was a disappointment after their brilliant debut.
Amazingly, everything changed just a year later, as How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today was released in 1988. The sound had become more Metal, there were guitar solos, a better production and more fleshed out songs. This was the ST I fell in love with. The Suicidal tendencies that were deemed Thrash Metal by the music press. Who, along with Anthrax were challenging to get in the big three of Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. The truth is, they still sounded like no one else. Yes, they had become more Metal, but they were still from a different place. And lyrically, they inhabited a different area from most Metal bands of this era. They were ahead of their time with songs about self-doubt, emotional problems and psychoanalysis. Grunge and Nu Metal would soon analyse these topics.
In 1989 an extended EP Controlled By Hatred/Feel Like Shit...Deja-Vu was released. It seemed to find a middle ground between the previous Hardcore Punk sound and the new Thrash ST. Several songs are re-recordings of No Mercy tunes.
Lights Camera Revolution (1990) is my favourite ST album. It was the album where they mastered their hardcore punk-thrash sound ("You Can't Bring Me Down") and matured as songwriters ("Alone)", while incorporating a new sound ("Send Me Your money" and "Lovely" show that new funk that would be explored under the Infectious Grooves monicker).
The Art Of Rebellion (1992) Had ST explore their songwriting even further, but in doing so losing contact with their Hardcore roots and pushing their Metal boundaries too. This was certainly not a Thrash metal release, it was the sound of a band being overproduced and confused about what they should sound like. But it did contain some great songs.
Still Cyco After All These Years (1993) is the first ST album re-recorded by the then current line up (plus 2 songs off their second CD).
Suicidal For Life (1994) may be a reaction to re-recording those early songs as it is much harder and in your face than TAOR. And Mike Muir seems to be trying to swear as much as possible even in the titles of the songs! I love this album, it has a real fury to it.
Freedumb (1999) and Free Your Soul...and Save My Mind (2000) are disappointing to me. They seem to have decided that they want to come back as Hardcore Punks again - writing short fast songs. But the quality of songwriting just isn' there.
These were the last official Suicidal tendencies albums. BUT ST songs have been released on Cyco Miko, Friends & Family and other albums. And there are some good new songs there if you care to look. The future for ST may well be good based on the latest ST songs included.
Prime Cuts features 2 new tracks & 2 re-recordings. The new songs show ST's move towards a more funky sound.
The Friends & Family compilation has three ST songs (but 2 would later appear on the Freedumb album- only the Ska influenced Panic is unreleased) and 3 new ST and IG collaborations. So these are funky AND heavy. Plus there are 2 unreleased Cyco Miko tracks.
The Friends & Family 2 compilation has only 1 unreleased ST song. Plus an unreleased IG instrumental. Plus two No Mercy re-recordings (both songs would later appear on the 2010 ST No Mercy Fool CD, BUT they would be DIFFERENT versions). Also Mike Muir co-wrote 2 of the Funeral Party songs.
6 The Hard Way features 2 songs that would appear on Freedumb, 2 new ST with IG songs and 2 live tracks of old ST songs. The Latter, "I Saw Your Mommy" starts out as a DISCO VERSION!!
Year Of The Cycos is a compilation of unreleased and "soon to be released" songs by ST, IG, NM and CM songs! The first two songs were released on the No Mercy Fool album, there are some ST songs that are supposedly on the next ST album (and they sound GOOD!), but also another re-recording of an old ST song ("Two Wrongs.."). Plus unreleased old IG tracks featuring Mr Trujillo. The standard of this album is very high for a bunch of different projects, but my personal favourite is "Big Man" which is a Cyco Miko outtake. AND we get the original remastered No Mercy song "Crazy But Proud" (not the recently re-recorded version!!) maybe they will re-release the whole album....
No Mercy Fool!/The Suicidal Family has 7 re-recordings from the Join The Army album. Plus 7 re-recordings of No Mercy songs.
While the 'Lost My Brain....' album is a Cyco Miko solo album proper, the other two CM albums are more compilations of his various bands. 'Schizophrenic Born Again Problem Child' features mostly CM songs but also a few by IG and ST! Then comes the 2011 release 'The Mad Mad Musical Tour Part 1': where the lines of his different projects get even more blurred as we get TWO tracks atributed to CM/ST!!
In total this album has 7 CM songs, 1 ST song, 4 IG songs, and 2 CM/ST songs - hardly a Cyco Miko solo album then! My standout track is an ACOUSTIC! re-working of "Alone" by CM/ST. While the CM song "Logical thoughts of a Lunatic" is like ST meets Everlast.
On the Mystic Sampler #2 CD there is an early very raw version of 'I Saw Your Mommy'. It can be downloaded on Amazon.
P.O.D.'s 'Kalifon-Eye-A' (features Mike Muir)
from the album When Angels And Serpents Dance.
My absolute favourite Suicidal Tendencies songs:
Subliminal (Suicidal Tendencies)
Won't Fall In Love Today (Suicidal Tendencies)
Institutionalised (Suicidal Tendencies)
Possessed To Skate (Join The Army)
Trip At The Brain (How Will I Laugh...)
How Will I laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today (How Will I Laugh...)
If I Don't Wake Up (How Will I Laugh..)
Sorry?! (How Will I Laugh...)
Feel Like Shit...Deja Vu (Controlled By Hatred/Feel Like Shit...Deja-Vu)
You Can't Bring Me Down (Lights Camera revolution)
Alone (lights camera revolution)
Disco's Out, Murder's In (lights Camera revolution)
Monopoly On Sorrow (The Art Of Rebellion)
We Call This Mutha Revenge (The Art Of Rebellion)
Suicyco Muthafucka (Suicidal For Life)
Fucked Up just Right (Suicidal For Life)
Big Man (Cyco Miko) (Year Of The CYCOs)
The Future's Now! (Year Of The Cycos)