ALBUM REVIEW: The Suicide Machines – Revolution Spring (Fat Wreck Chords)

One of the best ska-core bands of the ’90s are back with their first album in 15 years, on the indie label whose roster reads like a who’s who of US punk.

The Suicide Machines were formed in Detroit, Michigan, in 1991, and released six albums before disbanding in 2006.

This is their first new material since 2005’s War Profiteering is Killing Us All, with the same line-up which reunited in 2009 – Jason Navarro on vocals, Justin Malek on guitar, Rich Tschirhart on bass and Ryan Vandeberghe on drums.

That means this is their first release without founding guitarist Dan Lukacinsky, but Malek has filled his shoes more than adequately, providing some great riffs as well as showing his ska chops.

The Machines are still producing the same blend of punk, ska and hardcore that made us fall for them in the first place, with Navarro sounding particularly pissed off at the state of his country.

They rail against the wrongs of our society from the get-go, beginning with strident opener Bully In Blue, which is about institutionalised racism in the police force, but there’s also a lot of positivity in many of the songs.

Lead single Awkward Always is about being an outsider, while To Play Caesar – one of the standout tracks – is a rallying call which points out “we always fight each other instead of the real enemy”.

The excellent Flint Hostage Crisis is a slice of impassioned hardcore which tackles the subjugation of the working class, and insists “it’s all about green, they don’t care about white or black”.

Trapped In A Bomb is a tribute to a lost friend, while Detroit Is The New Miami is another hardcore banger about global warming and climate change deniers.

Yes, there’s some pretty serious subject matter here, but the underlying message is one of fighting for change, and looking to bring it about through positivity, rather than giving in to the ruling elite.

The band switch between genres easily, sometimes in the space of one song (Empty Time), but the best moments are when they’re preaching love, hope and unity, like on Impossible Possibilities and Potter’s Song, with the latter warning “if we don’t stand for something, we will all fall for anything”.

The upbeat Cheers To Ya, which rounds things off, features a horn section – surely more than a coincidence given the album’s producer is Roger Lima of Less Than Jake.

All in all, this is a fine return, which compares favourably with the best of their earlier work. They’ve still got plenty to say, so hopefully it won’t be another 15 years before they drop another new record. 8/10.

Gary Welford owner