Suicidal Tendencies - _Freedumb_
by: Paul Schwarz (
This was a difficult record to put pen to paper on and judge, but I have finally managed it, and I think I have got it right. What ST have essentially done with _Freedumb_ is regressed back to the roots of their self-titled debut and beyond to an even more basic punk formula. _ST_ may have been a raw and primal hardcore punk album, but it had melodic twinges and metallic elements which, for me at least, enhanced its impact immensely, creating a tumultuous, rolling snow ball of angst, black humour, sharp social commentary and pure unbridled rage which was also ridiculously and infectiously catchy. _Freedumb_ certainly has rage and also dynamics, and definitely retains the outspoken, opinionated lyricism which ST have long been noted for. Songs like the title track opener, "Ain't Gonna Take It", "Scream Out" and the proclamatory "Hippie Killers", among others, embody the spirit of true US hardcore and punk, resurrecting the sometimes criminally forgotten spirit of such bands as Minor Threat and The Misfits. The less all-out tracks like "Naked", which often employ a stronger dynamic and also brief flirtations with more alien musical styles, such as the one with ska on "Half Way Up My Head", also work most of the time and overall _Freedumb_ is a very listenable and enjoyable album. But, and you knew there was one coming didn't you?, there is something missing from _Freedumb_. It falls short of being as great a record as _ST_, _How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today_ or other ST classics, and also of being as great a record as I feel this classic band could have made in 1999. The trademarks of intricate bass work, raging guitars and Muir's impressive vocal tirades are all in place with maybe only the supremely catchy vocal melodies and solos of oldies of the ilk of "I Want More" or "Suicidal Failure" missing. However, it is mostly the overall feel of _Freedumb_ which doesn't quite attain the heights the band have previously reached. No songs here can match a cut on _ST_ and win hands down, which to be fair is something that can be said about many hardcore or punk albums made in the last fifteen years, but even putting this somewhat harsh comparison to one side and taking the style and songs of _Freedumb_ for what they are, the record as a whole lacks the seamless cohesion and endearing flow ST have previously achieved, especially with their debut. This is still one of the best hardcore punk albums the '90s has brought forth and it is a good record in its own right, but out of a new ST record? Me, I want more.
(article published 12/8/1999)
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