Lights… Camera… Revolution!
All you wanted was a Pepsi, but instead you got a kick ass thrash album.
Suicidal Tendencies made this record later in their carrer, after they survived the “Big Bang of Punk,” so to speak, and had a minute to think about what they dug about music in the first place. The band, a favorite of punks and 1980’s L.A. gang members alike, made a couple of really sweet hardcore albums and are a highly revered band in that genre. Their most famous cut, “Institutionalized”, is one of the greatest old-school punk tracks ever put on tape, despite being an odd entry in the category. The song features a mid-tempo dialog and guitar solo with hardcore breaks – no “God Save the Queen” by a long shot. Suicidal took a turn toward hard thrash with Lights… Camera… Revolution’ in 1990. What resulted was a fantastic snapshot of a certain time and place in the history of metal.
This album doesn’t fall under the category of ‘legendary’, but it does at earn the ‘really good’ classification. The technical playing stands up to most metal releases during this era, with a lot of air-guitar inducing madness in a world before people could use video games to pretend they can play. Mike Muir is a hell of a band leader, and what he lacks in vocal ability he makes up for in enthusiasm. Tunes like ‘Send Me Your Money’ have the political and ethical commentary that only legitimate punk music can deliver. Oh, and you know that dude Robert Trujillo? The bass player? The one that saved Metallica from really, really sucking just like Bob Rock was intent on making them really, really suck? (That’s a whole other essay though.) He plays bass on this album. And he shreds.
What makes this album most interesting (and in a strange way, I might add) though, are its elements of 80’s L.A. cock-rock (really glossy production, solos piled on solos, sometimes questionable lyrical content), which are a little corny in retrospect, but corny in an awesome way. You know, like Iron Maiden is corny but you still get stoked every time you put one of their albums or T-shirts on. (Hey, whaddaya know, I’m wearing one right now! It’s got a Viking Eddie on it! Sweet!) Glam was in its death throes when this came out, and power metal was starting to take over. Thrash was gaining steam as a legit genre and one of the best in metal.
Suicidal took cues from all that shit and incorporated it into an already solid unit of dudes who could kick ass. On one hand, you have a band that is obviously trying to be more commercial. However, on the other hand you have a band that was sticking to their ideals of shred and attitude. It’s an odd mix, but it works brilliantly on this cult classic.
Catch up with Matt Abramson at seattlerockguy.com.