Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Acid Shark- Bombs Away Demo 2012




Genre conventions are a funny animal. We, as music fans, will at one time or another all complain (to anyone willing to listen) about the strictures of genre and how its stifles creativity. Yet skew one element in a way we’re not expecting, and we balk instantly.

Enter my introduction to Acid Shark. Drummer Lee sent me the standard e-mail asking if I’d like to review the record, along with the equally standard links to some contextual info. After browsing their bio and finding a comfortingly familiar blend that included Repulsion, Terrorizer, 324 and Napalm Death, I mentally agreed, deciding to hit YouTube before answering back only to make sure that they weren’t some cleverly camouflaged bedroom e-grind band.

I decided upon one of the three demo tracks (“Anger,” I believe), and the instrumental racket that first met my ears was of a similarly familiar and comforting nature. Around 30 seconds into the track, I was prepared to find some variation on a screamed vocal. However, rather than this genre standard, I met with something quite different.

Acid Shark’s vocals take the form of a shout-speak snarl so well-enunciated that practically all of the lyrics are discernible without reading them.  While this approach would sound common enough on a crust-punk record, its presence on something touted as grindcore was enough to give me pause before responding to Lee in the affirmative.

Some reference for former vocalist Matteo’s surprisingly clear bark can be found in 324’s Masao, an obvious influence. Other similarities can be found in Mick Harris’ vocals for Unseen Terror, minus the blurring speed-rap delivery found on some UT material. Still, even compared to these, the degree of clarity in the vocals is arresting; Matteo lacks the gruffness of Masao or the aforementioned speed of Mick Harris, so when lyrics fall flat, as the average grindcore lyrics are wont to do, that fact becomes painfully clear to all but the most unobservant listeners.

Firmly anchored in the old school, Acid Shark’s guitar work recalls the consummation of the 80's teenage gropings between punk and metal that would eventually beget grindcore.  The band packs tone and riffage so middle-grounded between the two that I had to scrap a potential lead for this paragraph because I simply couldn’t choose which genre signifier to pin on it. Their grind stays militantly planted in the linearity of something like Terrorizer’s World Downfall; out of the many early grind touchstones that inspired the songs on this demo, I can say with a degree of certainty that Sore Throat’s Disgrace to the Corpse of Sid and Unhindered by Talent probably aren’t two that feature prominently.

Title track “Bombs Away” opens the set, and while it’s the shortest to be found here at 1:37, it doesn’t bring the blistering speed expected in most shortest-song grind tracks. Instead, it introduces another unexpected twist along with Acid Shark’s grindcore: choruses. While all three tracks follow a verse/chorus structure, “Bombs Away” (with its chorus consisting only of the words “Bombs away!” repeated six times) comes up short on ideas (if long on energy) and winds up a bit repetitive.

“Anger,” the 3rd and final track on the demo, comes off as the most successful cut of the bunch. The track opens with a headbanging, old-school groove that it rides until a half-second jolt of silence ushers Matteo in. At that moment, the whole band surges forward, the vocals taking on a thrash-indebted urgency  thanks to the song’s longer line structures and wordier (in a good way) lyrics. Besides containing some of the demo’s fastest playing, the song also contains its most complex chorus, meaning that you don’t mind hearing it repeated 3 times. This is the song to hope future AS efforts sound like, and it’s the best indication that they’ve got something exciting to offer on their next releases.

Convention will probably keep most fans of modern grind at arm’s length, but crust-lovers and open-minded modernists will discover a skillfully-delivered demo outing that forecasts good things if the band continues to refine the blueprint laid out on these tracks.


The Bombs Away Demo 2012 is available here for download and streaming.

As touched upon within the review, vocalist Matteo has split amicably with the band, and they are currently seeking a replacement.  Any interested parties can record a demo over this karaoke version of “Anger” and send it to band@acidshark.co.uk for consideration. It's probably a good idea to be in the UK if you actually want to be considered, but either way, send 'em a demo, 'cause extreme music karaoke rules.

While Delaware isn’t anywhere close to being in the UK, I couldn’t resist recording my own vocal demo, so if you’d like, check it out here


[Note: The band sent me a digital copy for review.]

1 comment:

  1. Your vocals are the perfect addition to the tracks, brings neatly that frantic grind factor into the mix. Many hopes for this band, the Bristol punk contribution is off the chain and I don't think this band are too far off securing their name amongst such a scene.

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