It’s been 13 years since we last received a new album from Suicidal Tendencies, and to be honest, those last few albums that we did get from them kind of went off the rails. Sure, there has been a little music trickling out of the camp of frontman Mike Muir over the years, whether from his funk-metal project Infectious Grooves, a lost ST song on a compilation here and there or his Cyco Miko solo persona, but it’s been rare and very, very uneven.
So now, a couple of weeks away from the release of the band’s new album 13, which also marks its 30th anniversary, we get the first glimpse at what the ST of today sounds like with the single “Cyco Style.” Truth be told, it sounds a lot like the ST of yesterday, at least the late 1980s, early 1990s version. Anyone expecting a return to the hardcore punk of their classic debut may be disappointed, but then they tried that a couple of records ago, and it didn’t quite work. This is more of the thrash crossover mix of their later years.
The first thing you’ll notice about “Cyco Style” is that it’s catchy as hell. That little guitar riff worms its way into your head and gets stuck there after just one listen. There are plenty of pounding drums, and Muir is shouting like a maniac. After the guitar solo, it descends into a chaotic, energetic thrashfest with blast beats on the drums and wailing guitars. Despite the anger and intensity, it’s an uplifting little ditty. There’s a character to it that just makes you happy, as was the case with much of the band’s classic work. Often overlooked by those who were shocked at the name Suicidal Tendencies and some of the song titles was the fact that Muir’s messages were more often than not positive ones and his intent was to uplift people who were feeling downtrodden. This song doesn’t have any weighty meaning — it’s about the mosh pit — but it has that same flavor.
Founder Muir is the only remaining member from any of the classic lineups on the album, long-time guitarist Mike Clark having departed. Infectious Grooves guitarist Dean Pleasants handles lead duties, while newcomer Nico Santora, who joined for the 2012 tour takes over rhythm. Eric Moore, who joined in 2008, is on drums, and another newcomer Steve Bruner is on bass. There aren’t a lot of familiar names there outside of Pleasants, but this has always been Muir’s show, and even with an almost completely new crew, there’s a continuity to the sound.
“Cyco Style” is easily my favorite ST song since probably 1994′s Suicidal for Life, which was the last record that I spent a whole lot of time with. It’s pretty much all I want from Suicidal Tendencies, and it I’m ready to hear the rest of what Muir and Co. have to offer after their long hiatus.