Suicidal Tendencies first album in thirteen years is the culmination of the legendary hardcore punk/crossover/thrash bands’ resurgence the last few years. The reason the band reached icon status in the first place was their ability to innovate and lead in the early days, change with the times and still be relevant years later. What separates ST from many bands of that era, is that now that they have finally delivered new music, it is as refreshing to hear as it is vital. That’s what makes 13 so very special.
Produced by legendary front man Cyko Mike Muir and Paul Northfield (Rush, Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, Ozzy Osbourne, Hole, Marilyn Manson, Infectious Grooves) the album sounds like an ST album ought to sound. Urgent riffs, hot guitar solos, stripped-down punk beats, gang vocals, some funky bass guitar and Muir’s over the top delivery right in the mix. Best of all, Muir and Northfield managed to capture the live sound of the band. ‘Shake It Out’ calls to mind the early years of the band when they were more punk rock than metal, but were hard enough to please fans of both.
Muir’s wordy vocal play, hummable melodies and cleverness always shine through. Dean Pleasants, who had the unenviable task of replacing shredder Rocky George back in the day, sounds amazing here. Dean lays down some sick solos track after track. ‘Smash It’ has the slam feeling of late 1980s ST. This will be a bonafide circle pit jam if the band plays this live. Historically, the rhythm section of ST has been powerful and in the current incarnation, that hasn’t changed.
Drummer Eric Moore and bassist Steve “Thundercat” Bruner put it down and keep all the tracks flowing nicely. ‘This Ain’t a Celebration’ is pure hardcore fun. Other tracks such as ‘God Only Knows…Who I Am’ is more about setting a mood, than rocking out. The only bummer for me is this album may be the last turn for guitarist Mike Clark, writer of many great ST tracks, who is now fronting his own band.
The real heart of the album is in the more up-tempo cuts such as ‘Make Your Stand’, ‘Who’s Afraid’, the crushing ‘Cyco Style’, and ‘Slam City’. These songs are badass and they feel like a continuation of the best moments of the history of the band, instead of a rehash. A lot of the music has a fun vibe to it and Muir in particular sounds ageless.