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Slightly more evolved than the cover's primates - 68%

Gutterscream, October 10th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1987, 12" vinyl, Mercenary Records

“…blackened darkness fills my world…“

Fish aren’t born expert swimmers. They’re kinda clumsy, in fact. Even as they grow into adulthood, different species are still better at it than some. The same is true about music, in this case thrash releases. There are some really lousy swimmers, like Executioner’s Break the Silence and steady stuff by the Texan Anihilator, but that’s not where Primal Scream’s one and only bait trap is deep-sixed. No, it’s not swimming with sharks, either. ‘87’s Volume One paddles alongside At War’s Ordered to Kill, Intrinsic’s s/t debut, Agony’s The First Defiance, Defiance’s Product of Society and so many others – crowded somewhere in the pack of anchovy, side by side, nose to ass and perhaps a fin or two more intriguing than the next that still garners little extraordinary attention while it flops around the net.

If some things about this NY trio prickle like these more interesting fins, one is the uncommon economy of two vocalists, bassist Rob Graham and drummer Steve Alliano (with the latter furthermore usual), despite being a hook that snags only a pair of these ten tracks. Truth is there’s not much difference between their testy, mid-grouch-toned dolphinese, and unlike Kreator, the idea is more flavorful than its actual taste.

The second fin has scales with more lightly engaging colors, here and there brighter than those around them like the somewhat foreboding initiations of “War And Sin” and “Last Breath”, the almost relaxed gallop and matching unstressed vocals of “Kill the Light”, the eruptive start that continues throughout “Poisoned” which is a top thrashstroker positioned wisely at the head of side two, and “Mr. McCreedy”, at least lyrically a cohort of Twisted Sister’s “Captain Howdy”, though as a host who prefers to entertain during his quests to torment, McCreedy gallivants around the house, fueled by different levels of satisfaction that vary through changing tempos and shifting rhythms instead of merely trying to haunt the place like the older and way more methodically infamous creepshow.

Bassist/pinch-fisherman Rob Graham descales some uniform timekeeping so his bass skills can enjoy short intervals of fresh water self-satisfaction and sunlight as provided by “Ignorance is No Excuse” and its rhythmically progressive anciness, “Scream ‘til You Bleed” (with bonus sunshine behind the mike) and the changeful “Mr. McCreedy”.

Aside from these bits that leap outta the water just a little, and while Primal Scream and Volume One’s not-so-shark-like-fin at least splits waves in some fashion, it’s not with above ordinary technique, intensity or overall achievement, at least not enough to scare most people outta the water. Perhaps a Volume Two woulda seen this fun through.

You were expecting maybe primate analogies? Bah.

Going congo in a concrete jungle - 68%

autothrall, October 18th, 2010

Snugged up firmly against the embankments of gutsy East Coast thrash, Primal Scream were yet another of those many lost voices of promise that once speckled the seaboard like hairy gorilla gangs, alongside Gothic Slam, Savage Thrust, Demolition Hammer, Wargasm and Indestroy, with a beef injected approach much manlier than an Anthrax or Overkill, though perhaps not so explosive or expressive in delivery. But their sole official offering Volume One has a certain, undying character to it, through the run and gun, boxy guitar tones, assertive production standards, classic riffing foundations (Metallica, Hallows Eve, etc.) or even the slightly crossover appeal the band often skirts, in particular the vocals circa Cro-Mags, D.R.I. and so forth.

Ultimately, Volume One is the sort of thrash record you break out from time to time when you just want something other than the legends who occupy most of your attention span. There are few if any songs here that will hold onto your cranial lobes forever, but if you seek something refreshingly niche and still sounding like it just rolled out of the garage with a fresh layer of paint, you could do a lot worse. "War and Sin" recalls the hardcore rage of a Crumbsuckers meets S.O.D., while "Last Breath" builds this slowly grooving, bass-driven atmosphere, bluesy guitars wailing off until the butcher arrives with the big riffing bill. There are a few tasty speedsters like "Poisoned" and "Mr. McCreedy", but the band never sticks to a single tempo, so you have a nifty variety that holds your attention despite the primordial feel of the riffs. I wouldn't describe the material as particularly strong, but it is particularly fun, like taking a tire iron to your most hated neighbor's property while you're mad on beer suds.

The vocals here were offered by drummer Steve Alliano and bassist Rob Graham, and they mix up crude masculine barking, gang shouts and something more decrepit, like a mad mortician. Occasionally, as with "Ignorance is No Excuse" or the weak higher pitched vocals of "Kill the Light", it doesn't quite come together, but even here the pure steel honesty of the rhythm guitars prevents the material from becoming a train wreck. Leads are heavily blues based, some simple and easily improvised, some showing a little more spunk. I guess if D.R.I., Motorhead and Metallica circa 1983 had a jam session it might turn out something like Volume One. That looks amazing on paper, and it's not bad on record, but how much value you'll derive from its nostalgic, bruised siren call will depend on just how willing you are to overlook the relative lack of intricacy and originality when there were (and still are) so many better superior options in this genre.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com