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Suicide City - "Frenzy " (CD)

Suicide City - "Frenzy " CD cover image

"Frenzy " track listing:

1. First Cut (:34)
2. Cutter (3:55)
3. Sex And Dying (3:31)
4. The Only Track Not About Sex And Dying (:32)
5. The Best Way (4:11)
6. Painted Horse (4:10)
7. Chemical Fight (3:37)
8. Burn (5:39)
9. Undone (3:36)
10. Spanish Fly (2:41)
11. She Waits (3:48)
12. She Waits In A European Nightclub (:18)
13. Start The Show (4:28)
14. Not My Year (4:31)
15. Lost Years (5:23)

Reviewed by on July 31, 2009

"When everything clicks, Suicide City is in a league of their own; a mish-mash of genres that combines to form an intricate soundtrack to the disillusioned and rejected members of society."

When Biohazard, one of the prominent figures in the hardcore genre, dissolved in 2006, all the band members went to work on their own projects. Guitarist/vocalist Billy Graziadei focused his attention on Suicide City, a major departure from his former act. While Biohazard was a rough-and-tough type of band, one of the first successfully mix heavy metal, hardcore and rap together, Suicide City is in the vein of punk rock, with pieces of electronica and hard rock scattered about. After years of working their way through the NY club scene, the quintet’s debut album, “Frenzy,” has seen the light of day, and fans of Biohazard are in for the shock of their lives when they hear what Graziadei and company have in store for the uninitiated.

Suicide City is equivalent to an A.D.D. child off medication; hopping all over the place and not sticking to one particular sound. The ability to keep the album as quirky as humanly possible without dwelling into a state of awkwardness is a trait that the band excels at, though they constantly find themselves in a balancing act. Suicide City throws a lot at the listener, as songs go from catchy punk to techno beats to creepy samples to gang vocals, sometimes all in the same track. When everything clicks, Suicide City is in a league of their own; a mish-mash of genres that combines to form an intricate soundtrack to the disillusioned and rejected members of society.

The problems crawl up to the surface when things don’t mesh well, which happens more than it should. With fifteen tracks clocking in over 50 minutes long, there is just too much material, and by the album’s end, all the melodies start to sound the same. When “Frenzy” drags, it drags terribly. The soft verse/hard chorus/fast bridge/chorus structure turns “Frenzy” into a predictable album, a small fish in a big pond full of the little bastards. The songs are simple, which isn’t a complaint when the song is only three minutes long, but when the length is extended on “Burn” and “Not My Year,” it becomes more noticeable.

The shorter tracks are where the real hidden highlights come into fruition. “Cutter” opens up the album with a leather boot to the face, a metal-tinged thrill ride that is abrasive, yet melodic, and the heaviest number on “Frenzy.” “Undone” sticks to a linear formula that the rest of the album follows, but has an infectious side to it that leaves a huge mark on the listener. The electronic dance music is front and center on “Spanish Fly” and “She Waits In A European Nightclub,” providing a quick and hypnotic vibe that should have been further explored. Closer “Lost Years” provides a low-key ending, with heavily distorted piano work providing an unsettling mood that vocalist Karl Bernholtz takes full advantage of with a haunting performance.

The material on “Frenzy” has its charms, but is largely unmemorable in the long run. If more songs were catchy punk in the vein of “Cutter” and “She Waits,” the album would have had a stronger flow. The songwriting is decent, though sticks to a formulaic style that has been heard countless times before. The electronic work adds some dimensions to Suicide City’s core sound, but it feels tacked on and underutilized.

A lot of these songs seem to be meant with a frantic live audience in mind, screaming out every chorus and going crazy in the pits. In that aspect, “Frenzy” succeeds with flying colors. When it comes to providing an engaging studio album from start to finish, Suicide City flies out of the gate, but stumbles and falls flat on its face near the finish line.

Highs: A couple of gems scattered about, interesting dynamics between punk rock and electronics work, strong vocals.

Lows: Drags near the end, the electronica ideas aren't fully fleshed out, lacks more energetic material in the vein of "Cutter."

Bottom line: A decent debut album that has moments of creativity that contrasts with the dull songwriting and filler in the second half of the album.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)