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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.