Suicidal Tendencies - World Gone Mad (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Suicidal Tendencies

World Gone Mad (2016)

Suicidal records

Suicidal Tendencies went thirteen years between their two previous studio albums. It only took them three years to come raging back with World Gone Mad, and the results are similar. ST has been around for more than 30 years, with frontman ‘Cyco’ Mike Muir as the only constant. They are one of the key bands in the crossover scene, and have made a handful of classic LP’s. Suicidal Tendencies have a legacy that’s secure, but they’ve struggled with relevancy in recent years. Fortunately, they’re better right now than they’ve been in 15 years. Heavy touring has turned a bunch of hired guns into an actual cohesive unit.

The next most famous guy in the band at the moment is former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo. He’s even listed second in the credits. (He’s also the only one in the band photo not decked out in ST gear from head to toe.) His thrash skills are put to good use here, plus he gets to play more funky fills and drum rolls than he did in his 20 years off and on with Slayer. Some people will no doubt complain about the lack of Rocky George and Robert Trujillo. It’s worth noting that lead guitarist Dean Pleasants has been in ST since 1996 and is officially their longest tenured guitarist. (George made it 11 years.) He’s also the best pure shredder the band has ever had. His molten Eddie VanHalen-esqe solos are both frequent and lengthy. (For better or worse.)

Musically, World Gone Mad has none of the blindingly fast hardcore punk of Suicidal Tendencies (1983) or Join the Army (1987). When it is fast, it’s thrash metal style. The rhythm guitar is choppy and the lead guitar is fluid. The bass has ST’s typical brightness and pops right out of the mix. Overall, it seems to aim for a sound more like How Will I laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today (1988) or Lights...Camera...Revolution! (1990). That would make sense as that was the band’s most commercially successful era. They’re also peaking just in time to join the classic thrash resurgence happening with bands like Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, Testament, Death Angel, D.R.I. and Exodus.

It’s safe to assume that album opener “Clap Like Ozzy” isn’t encouraging you to stumble around mumbling like a braindead fool. Rather it embraces the idea of living life to the very fullest. (Is Ozzy Osbourne really the best example of this?) “The New Degeneration” tries to recapture a little of the adolescent angst that dominated ST’s early material. The record really hits its stride on “Get Your Fight On!” and “World Gone Mad!”. (Two songs in a row with exclamation points in the titles!) The title track is funky and infectious and borrows a riff from the Rage Against The Machine songbook. “One Finger Salute” is a bit too obvious, but you won’t care because it’s a fun listen.

“Happy Never After” is a great example of the duality of Cyco Miko. He’s constantly talking about the many problems in life, yet he seems to maintain a hopeful outlook. It might seem counterintuitive, but ultimately ST equals PMA. “The Struggle Is Real” is the record’s shortest song at just under three minutes. “Still Dying To Live” is the longest at nearly eight meandering minutes. It’s a good representation of what’s most wrong with World Gone Mad. Its eleven songs clock in at a bloated 56 minutes. This record would likely have had a lot more impact at 40 minutes or so. Technically oriented thrash bands can get away with longer, more intricate songs. Here it comes across as repetitive with too many overindulgent guitar solos.

Suicidal Tendencies has a long history of re-recording older material. Here they bafflingly redo “This World” to close the album. It’s a not radically different version of the same song that closed their previous album 13 (2013). Despite its foibles, World Gone Mad has to be considered a success. It’s got some great songs with great riffs and great messages. Fans will be glad to hear the new material and to know that ST is more than just a nostalgia act. This album, like the last, is rock solid. The two combined have more than proven that Suicidal Tendencies is still a musical force to be reckoned with.