Suicide City: Frenzy

Andrew Dietzel

If the aim was to get you to kill yourself, Suicide City have failed. With verve, some metal know-how, and a dash of ominous sensitivity, Frenzy will make you want to dance away any rejection and heartache instead.

Suicide City


Label: The End
US Release Date: 2009-08-04
UK Release Date: 2009-09-21
Artist website

Some bands have nonsensical names that somehow sound kind of catchy and cool. Some bands have names that reflect the identities of the members. And some band names wear their genre and style on their sleeves like a scarlet letter. Suicide City fall into the latter category. I could almost smell the still-drying nail polish and teen angst seeping out of the ether before I even heard to the album, and a quick front-to-back listening session did nothing to disprove this assumption. If I had left things there, this would have been a “screamo sucks” review and I would have gone about my business being too brutal for school, but I decided to give objectivity and Suicide City’s debut Frenzy another chance.

The first thing that set Suicide City apart from their peers was their diversity in lineup, sporting former Biohazard guitarist Billy Gaziadei, Groovenics vocalist Karl Bernholtz, and former Kitty bassist Jennifer Arroyo, as well as the Sworn Enemy-endorsed drummer Danny Lamagna. This wasn’t the makeup-laden Myspace phenomenon from the suburbs with nasally wails and stock breakdowns for kids to pop Oxycontin to I was expecting. This was a creative Brooklyn group that showed a lot of musical experience and potential in the misleading packaging of something more contrived and by-the-numbers.

So what if the album opens with a brief computerized soliloquy about helplessness? When the rah-rah chant of “The Cutter” came piping through the stereo I was immediately intrigued, caught off guard by the presentation despite the predictable razor-to-the-wrist subject matter. It was an anthemic and energetic introduction to the group’s sound, and I was shocked at myself for not seeing its quality the first time around. The psychobilly verse segments of “The Best Way” further complicated matters, helping separate Suicide City from the boring musical simplicity of similar groups. Then there was “Burn”, full of Cure bassline worship and a hauntingly ephemeral fadeout. “She Waits” rounds out Suicide City’s spectrum with its downtuned double-kick drum metal and screams, more edgy than on the edge.

Musically, the band had deftly avoided being pigeonholed into some kind of tougher My Chemical Romance. Lyrically, however, is where Suicide City falter. Take this snippet from “Sex and Dying” for a representative sample: “Starting out the plot with gloom / Connecting the dots to my womb / I’m going to stop from descending / And this is without my own ending”. A part of me expected this kind of teenage poetry rife with references to something vaguely menacing, Oedipal issues, and, of course, suicide, but I wanted to hear something more befitting the well-crafted musical landscapes heard in each song. Even though the vocals are presented in a wide range of expressions ranging from cooing, shouting, hissing, choral harmonics, and operatic, as on “Painted Horse”, their content leaves much to be desired. It fits the genre’s bill, of course, but the point is that it doesn’t have to.

After the creepy piano ode fades like an youngster in the graveyard’s mist it’s clear that Suicide City are not your typical rendition of emotive rock. Yes, there are Gothic elements sprinkled throughout Frenzy, and yes, the band’s photos do nothing to dispel this image, but the music speaks for itself. They worked hard on creating a dynamic and creative musical sound, and on avoiding the standard verse-chorus-verse arrangement so many bands willingly submit themselves to. Even the electronic explorations aren’t overdone, remaining subtle and complimentary to each song. And while the lyrics are on the trite side of average, they are sung in such an interesting array of methods that this isn’t obvious unless you’re reading them from the liner notes. If the aim was to get you to kill yourself, Suicide City have failed. With verve, some metal know-how, and a dash of ominous sensitivity Frenzy will make you want to dance away any rejection and heartache instead.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.