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Charging rather listlessly toward euthanasia. - 62%

Gutterscream, January 16th, 2007

By lazy human standards, music’s Reaper has a good job. He doesn’t have to move an inch to go to work and can wear whatever he wants. He loves what he does and effortlessly excels at it without fear of a lay off. Though he deals with people on a regular basis, he doesn’t have to shower for days, ‘cause the only reason he gets visitors is because their sonic agenda has thrown them into his trajectory, and they’re always driven to him whether they know it or not. And it’s never his fault that they’re traveling down his doomed driveway. He doesn’t create waste, nor does he lug it out to the curb. It just lies where it falls, and the garbage men collecting it are fully aware their job will never be done.

Bubbling up from America’s so-called toilet, Jersey Dogs were one of those bands representing end-of-the-decade thrash that, along with a slew of other bands, was on a collision course with the Reaper’s bloody blade. While with Attacker, bassist Louis Ciarlo and drummer Michael Sabatini probably didn’t bat an eye on the face of the world, and with this ep they prevail to a lesser degree, for at least Attacker had some fans.

A one-gear transmission powers three of these non-essential and relatively flameless five tracks as “Wasted World”, “Who’s to Blame”, and “Another Pretty Day” meander across the thrash battlefield late in the war and not with a whole lot of courage or outrage. It’s thrash unconvincing and reasonable nearing the point of being sensible. Sensible thrash? For hard-core thrashers, sensible thrash is an oxymoron that found residence mainly in sleepy ‘80s/early ‘90s demos that went nowhere, demos that quickly set up house near the barrel bottom, and there were more than enough of them out there to populate the thing. While they’re not lodged in some sub-basement, it’s a place Jersey Dogs would’ve found themselves if it weren’t for band-hungry labels like Wild Rags signing what most others rejected.

“Who’s to Blame” is the most memorable, jogging through a restrained intensity zone where the turbulently talented solos of Jon Ilaw stand out beyond the narrowly presented timing and rhythmic changes in “Wasted World” and “Another Pretty Day”. Trying his hand behind the mike is Ciarlo, sounding like a lightly invigorated Rodney Dunsmore (of the Texan Devastation) with a hoarse Lemmy aspect, but in view of the notes behind him, his unspectacular style is pretty on the money.

The other two tracks are covers unnamed on the album jacket, the fact divulged only by dubbing one side ‘original’ and the other ‘cover’. No sleep would be lost if these versions of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” or “Somebody Get Me a Doctor” failed to hit the street. With “Dirty Deeds…”, more daring plans could be laid out for playing with a puppy, and while the other mock-up is a better one that grasps Van Halen’s late ‘70s vitality, it’s in little danger of being sought out by moderately faithful cover hounds.

In their defense, along with Ilaw’s colorful soloing, the production is probably one of the best financed by the diminutive label (with thanks surely going to mixer Rob “Raven” Hunter), but that’s hardly the flying color that’s going to deflect the blade already in mid-swing at this ultra-generically titled record. See that toilet on the cover?