Suicidal Tendencies: Still Psycho After All These Years

You might not know it, but this long-running Southern California punk band, in addition to its own legacy, has spawned countless other acts for decades. Since its formation in 1981, members have gone on to play with a who’s-who of notable rock talent, including Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Daughtry, and Avril Lavigne. This can be partially attributed to the sheer number of people who have come and gone from the band (Wikipedia counts 30), but also to the sharp musical sensibilities of bandana-sporting singer Mike Muir, who has remained Suicidal Tendencies’ one constant member as well as its driving musical force. It also speaks to the scope of the band’s influence, which cuts a much wider swath than their modest commercial success might suggest.

Suicidal was introduced to the world via their 1983 self-titled LP, about as powerful a debut as you’re likely to find, punk or otherwise—a thrashing, humorous slice of youthful angst and ennui. It remains a vital hardcore cornerstone, especially its centerpiece, “Institutionalized,” a classic tale of teenage isolation. “All I wanted was a Pepsi,” Muir shouts mid-song in what has become the band’s best-remembered lyric, “just one Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me!”

On 13, the band’s first album in 13 years, Muir and company push forward while looking back. “Can someone please get me a Diet Pepsi?” he asks on album opener “Shake It Out.” It’s a clever nod, a joke 30 years in the making but which feels well-timed. With the band’s legacy firmly cemented in both punk and metal circles, the 50-year-old Mike can safely travel back in time to let the 20-year-old Mike know that everything’s going to be OK.

But don’t get the wrong idea about the rest of the album’s content: There’s nothing sugar-free about it, with songs that move between aggressive hardcore and the bass-slapping funk-metal of Muir’s other band, Infectious Grooves. Few acts can muster as much ferocity so many years into their career (Slayer comes to mind, who, by the way, are big fans), and few bands older than 30 can still get a crowd going as well as these guys can. To borrow a phrase from one of their album titles: still psycho after all these years, indeed. Thursday, December 5. With Terror, Trash Talk, The Inspector Cluzo. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 262-0482, elcorazon.com. 7:30 p.m. $26 adv./$30 DOS.

 
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