If I asked you to look at a map of the world and had you to identify the location of which a solid throwback to 1980s hardcore would surface, where would you push a pin into? Would it beLiverpool,England? Even if you put the pin in there because you heard that was where the Beatles came from, because that’s the only band you know, you’d still be right – though we should probably introduce you to other music.
SSS (Short Sharp Shock), the latest Liverpudlian quartet, has released their third album on Earache Records and as the saying goes: this one is the charm. Problems To the Answer is a 42 minute, 25 track, relentless assault to your eardrums. For those that sit in their rooms in their Slayer t-shirts and clutch their old Anthrax cassettes to their chests on a nightly basis, you can come out into the light again.
Now you may be thinking: how did they get 25 tracks out in only 42 minutes? It’s a straight numbers game. After the first track, “The Kill Floor” (which clocks in at a scant 2 minutes and 14 seconds), the next 4 tracks come in at are all under a minute each, one coming in at a brief 15 seconds. This lends itself well to hardcore, which should not be listened to piece by piece, but as a whole.
Save for a couple of changes of pace, you feel like you are listening to one long song as Problems To the Answer plows through your consciousness. Broomo and Magill’s riffs keep the throttle down on the tempo of the album from start to finish and my arms get tired just listening to Dave’s drumming. Foxy channels his inner Tom Araya and is rarely unintelligible in his gravelly delivery.
Not to detract from Foxy’s vocals, but the real gems are the instrumental offerings. “Future Primitive,” a mid-album bridge, is a 4 minute ground out metal-fest. “Strangenotes,” coming in just under 8 minutes, is full of Jorgensen-esque riffs, a small piano solo, and some prog rock sound effects to boot. It is a sharp departure from the other 24 tracks and a riveting coda to the album. It marks a maturity to SSS’s sound and sets them apart from anyone else who is trying to make some noise in the hardcore scene.
Does this mark a return to hardcore and thrash metal? I can only hope. We’ve seen the soft underbelly of punk too much over the last several years and I am glad that SSS is bringing back the hard, spiked shell.