1988, Music

How Will I Laugh Tomorrow If I Can’t Even Smile Today (1988) by Suicidal Tendencies

This is one of those records which, had I found at the right time in my life, I might have really, really liked. It’s not that I don’t like it now, but I know too much now to be as impressed as I would have say, 5-10 years ago.

This is some pretty pummeling crossover thrash. But, by finding this niche, and honing it, it makes it easy to criticize. It’s not ambitious enough to be Metallica, it’s not violent enough to be Slayer. Their lead singer is very clearly a punk singer and not a metal singer (i.e. he is not a good singer). Alternatively, it’s not raw enough to be hardcore; everything is too damn professional. It’s easy to see how you could attack this as being too polished for hardcore, or not metal enough.

But I feel like that misses the point of the entire genre and isn’t really fair. The thing that makes these guys good is that they found this niche that was too professional for hardcore and too punk for metal. That’s not why it’s bad. It’s why it’s good.

I will say that one of the things that seems to go unremarked in the world between the two genres is that these bands – be they crossover thrash bands or metalcore bands later – have better lyrics than metal bands. I think that’s because lyrics are so important in punk, but they’re really unimportant in metal. The lyrics here are hardly excellent, but they are much better than the lyrics of the average thrash band.

It is loud enough for me. It’s punk enough for me. It’s heavy enough for me. It could be better at all of those things, but it’s still something I am willing to put on. But I guess I can still imagine a better version of this record, which makes me enjoy it less than I would have a few years ago.


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