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By: Matthew Swanson

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Hearing this disc today, in the year of its 25th Anniversary re-release on Frontier Records, it sounds to me as good as it did the first time I heard it. Well, I should say, as good it did the first time I heard it around a year after the first time I heard it. Allow me to explain.

I remember unwrapping this disc one Christmas and spinning it on my five disc changer. I was expecting it to sound like the heavy metal band they would become, which is the only era of the band I had heard, mostly from their videos on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. That would have been fine with me. I was an angry, little metal head. This record was angry, without a doubt, but it was so . . . punk.

Suicidal Tendencies (1983)

I noticed on that day, on baby Jesus’ birthday, that five songs were under two minutes, and two were under one minute. Hell, the whole thing was under a half hour! I was accustomed to the eight minute metal opuses of Metallica, so in my mind, these guys must not have been talented or worthwhile. I know, I was a close-minded metal head. However, for just about anyone, upon the first listen, it’s abrasive, sloppy, and sometimes obnoxious. Mike Muir’s voice, which would be difficult to classify as singing at this point of his career, rarely breaks from his scream the entire half hour, and it cracks with almost every note. The guitar tone and style on a lot of the songs and their solos sound like a surfer rock record if Dick Dale got a hold of a truck full of amphetamines.

I’ll admit it. I hated this record. I shelved it for about a year’s time. I don’t remember what made me finally give it another spin, but when I did, it no longer sounded haphazard and ugly – it was perfect with each and every track.

Suicide’s An Alternative/You’ll Be Sorry:

In the song, in roughly two and a half minutes, Mike manages to tell us around twenty things he’s sick of with one sentence, sweeping statement, explanations why. For example, “sick of chicks – they’re all bitches” and it’s worth noting that each stanza contains this statements “sick of life – it sucks,” three of the four have these statements, “sick of myself – don’t wanna live” and “sick and tired – and no one cares,” and in the last section he outright says “sick of living – I’m going to die.” When you’re in high school, not getting laid, and depressed (probably related to the not getting laid thing), everything he said made perfect sense. Women must have been bitches if they weren’t talking to me, even though the truth was they weren’t noticing me because I was scared to talk to them, and when you’re a kid, it’s hard to see the world for what it is outside of your own life. Life, the world, and everything in it, simply sucked. An admittedly narrow outlook, but it’s exactly what I was feeling and what I wanted to hear at the time.

Two-Sided Politics:

To sum up this song, Mr. Muir is not anti-anything, everything is anti-him.

I Shot Reagan:

What’s interesting is in my lyrics booklet for my CD, this song is called I Shot Reagan, yet on the back of the disc it’s entitled I Shot the Devil. Mike takes credit for shooting them both, as well as John Lennon and the Pope, through out the song, so either title works, I suppose. As it turns out, the owner of Frontier Records informed me that the label tried to make the title of the track only known to those that bought the record, but the FBI still got word of it. The Feds followed up with some phone calls, but because they couldn't show that Mike was advocating killing Ronny, nor could they prove that a skateboarding punk rocker from Venice, CA had anything to do with an assassination attempt, they were left with no choice but to drop the investigation.


This is without a doubt the heaviest, as in slow, sludgy, Black Sabbath-like heavy, song on the record, yet the chorus has the lightning fast punk playing and singing, which keeps with the overall flow of the album. Wavering between the two makes the heavier parts heavier and the fast parts that much more agro.

Won’t Fall in Love Today:

This might be the best song under a minute ever recorded. In the versus, Mike butters his lady up with lines like “So let’s not take any time to fight because you know I love you with all my might. Then, during the chorus, he comes clean with “Over a thousand things I can say to you, half of which will be un-true, but the one thing for sure I can say is that I won’t fall in love today.”


What else can be said about this track? It’s simply the best teen angst song ever made. Sure, The Who had My Generation, but no song has ever, nor will any future band, simultaneously capture the rebelliousness, paranoia, insanity, detachment, and anger that goes with being a teenager quite like this song. What really makes this track so effective is the increasing intensity during Mike’s spoken word sections. As each passage goes on, he gets more and more angry, the music builds up to a fury, until he’s repeating himself and losing his shit, taking us into the chorus where he’s screaming “I’m not crazy! You’re the one that’s crazy!” He truly sounds like an enraged, insane young man, and if he asked me for a Pepsi, you had better believe I’d find him one, fast.

Memories of Tomorrow:

In this tune, Suicidal sings of what they believed to be an inevitable nuclear war, and in the chorus, we hear this cheery, optimistic view of what’s to come:

I’ll kill myself
I’d rather die
If you could see the future
You’d know why


This ditty is about being, you guessed it, possessed by a demon. In many of the tracks, they play and sing at a blistering pace, but in no other song do they pack as many lyrics into a two minute time frame quite like this one.

I Saw Your Mommy . . .

“. . . and your mommy’s dead.” Although the subject matter is a little graphic and disturbing, this is musically the cheeriest, most palatable song, and here we see Mike and company’s sense of humor, which would be evident in their later work, and especially in the funk rock side project, Infectious Grooves.

Fascist Pig:

Mike outlines the job description of a Fascist Pig, and evidently, it involves kicking lots and lots of ass, kind of like the song itself, which also kicks a great deal of ass.

I Want More:

This number is perhaps the only one on the record that hints at the emotional side and actual singing that Mike Muir would showcase on future songs like "How Will I Laugh Tomorrow", arguably one of ST’s finest moments.

Suicidal Failure:

This is the perfect closing to the record. Most every song alludes to how he doesn’t give a damn about much of anything, in some he outright says that he wants to die, and here he admits that he “couldn’t get the job done.” The refrain states “I’m a suicidal failure. I’ve got to get some help. I have suicidal tendencies, but I can’t kill myself,” and in the verses he lists off the ways he’s attempted and failed to off himself. This leaves our protagonist in a state of continued agony, not wanting to live, yet unable to die.

Suicidal Tendencies’ debut album today, through out the entire 28 minutes, still makes me simultaneously smile, mosh around my apartment, and crave a can of Pepsi in the worst way. It’s not likely it will ever remain shelved for a full year like it did after first hearing it when I was full of teen angst so many years ago.

Frontier just rereleased, repackaged, and remastered Suicidal's self-titled, debut album.



All opinions expressed by Matthew Swanson are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.

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