The Suicide Machines “Revolution Spring” Review

The Suicide Machines
“Revolution Spring”
Fat Wreck Chords
Released: March 27, 2020

It is pretty shocking to realize that it has been fifteen years since we last heard new material from The Suicide Machines. How does that happen? Where does the time go? And more importantly, how did a band that release six records in their first fifteen years abandon the studio for the following fifteen.

Granted, the band did break up for a while during that time. But that was a short-lived retirement, as The Suicide Machines returned to the live scene after being dormant for three years. That was 2009 – and since then, the band have played sporadic lives shows. Embarked on a few small tours, but mostly kept a low profile. I’m told that had a lot to do with vocalist Jason Navarro touring big rig machines over Suicide Machines. Mouths to feed and bills to pay, that sort of thing.

Whatever the case, let us rejoice over being given a chance to hear some new material. When a musical group returns after a lengthy hiatus or silence, the results are often predictably unpredictable. Sometimes it is obvious that those involved returned because their lives felt empty away from the music world. Other times, what is on offer is rehashed dribble from musicians that are blatantly uninspired and looking for a paycheck. In this case, it feels like there was more gas left in the tank – and “Revolution Spring” isn’t just a return, but a return to form.

“Everyone just kind of got inspired,” laughs Navarro, about the band’s decision to begin making music again. “That’s all. I think we were watching all these other bands ride a wave of nostalgia and we didn’t want to be lumped into that, so we started writing a couple of songs and it went from there.”

See Also : No Fun At All “Grit” Review

The tracks on “Revolution Spring” are a highly energetic collection of Punk Rock fused Ska. Lighter on the Hardcore aspects of past records, albeit still with punch. Kicking off with “Bully In Blue” – which unmercifully takes aim at the abuse of power that emerged while the band slept. The onslaught of police brutality in Detroit gained world-world recognition when police officers Lonnie Wade and Richard Billingslea where charged with aggressive arrests in 2017.

State trooper Mark Bessner was charged with second degree murder for firing a taser out of the window of his police cruiser, causing an automotive accident. Bessner had been in pursuit of a minor named  Damon Grimes. As a result, the stunned Grimes fatally crashed the ATV he was riding into a the back of a pick-up truck. So for the record’s first track to take aim at police brutality, feels fitting.

These are just two examples of incidents that took place during the groups hiatus. However, the motorcity has a long history of police violence. It’s about time somebody drew some more attention to it. For anybody curious, there was a movie made on the subject a few years ago. Simply titled “Detroit”, and directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Based on the true story of American history’s most egregious cases of abuse of police power.

Yet despite all that, and despite the messed-up world these songs reflect so well, and despite this record’s provocative, insurrectionary title – “Revolution Spring”, is not, first and foremost, a political record. Sure, it touches on several topics that need a good old fashion Punk Rock investigation. Although, that is what the medium is largely used for. Soap boxing. Always was and probably always will be. Still, there is more to “Revolution Spring” than merely highlighting social folly.

There are some really solid passages here. Some moments of angst and aggression, that ultimately give way to the soothing sound of the saxophone. You can’t feel any form of angst when the wind section is toot-tooting all over the track. That is the glory that emerges when Punk Rock and Ska marry. Call it an anarchist wedding. These Dad jokes of mine are terrible aren’t they? I know, right!

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“This album is legitimately pretty autobiographical,” says Navarro. “A lot of it is very personal – about how I am and where I am now and how I got where I am now mentally. I kind of wanted to leave my children with an understanding of who I am as an older person. Maybe years from now when I’ve passed away, they can pick up the record and look at the lyrics and listen to it and, if they didn’t already know exactly, go  – okay, so this is what dad is about.” Which is rather poetic in a morbid way.

“It represents the change inside of me,” Navarro explains. “People might think it’s political, but really it’s me thinking about springtime as rebirth. There’s a change inside of me at 46 years old that’s strangely positive somehow. That’s not something I ever expected, because I’ve been a pretty angry person. And I think the other guys are in the same boat. But I could be dead tomorrow – and I’d be absolutely alright with leaving the world with this record.”

Navarro’s sentiment, which is hopefully not a premonition of any sort, makes sense. What The Suicide Machines have created here is a very solid album. Fans of the groups previous work will feel immediately at home with this collection. Maybe it’ll take a few listens, like returning home to your parents place does the first time you return after you first leave the nest to create your own crib. Personally, I hope the members of Anti-Flag pick up copies and see how a political record should be done. Politically unpolitical.

Let’s collectively hope that the wait isn’t a decade and a half before these lads resurface. The new album, “Revolution Spring” is out as of tomorrow, through Fat Wreck Chords. As for The Suicide Machines, to them we here at Modern Free Press say cheers to ya! 

For Fans Of: Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, Operation Ivy
Track list:

01. Bully In Blue
02. Awkward Always
03. Babylon Of Ours
04. Flint Hostage Crisis
05. To Play Caesar (Is To Be Stabbed To Death)
06. Trapped In A Bomb
07. Detroit Is The New Miami
08. Eternal Contrarian
09. Well Whiskey Wishes
10. Black Tar Halo
11. Empty Time
12. Impossible Possibilities
13. Potter’s Song
14. Simple
15. Anarchist Wedding
16. Cheers To Ya