Short Sharp Shock, or SSS for short, have returned with 25 tracks of crossover thrash goodness on Problems To The Answer. Their breakout record was 2008’s The Dividing Line, and this one continues in the same style. That means a lot of quick thrashers and mosh pit-inducing breakdowns. While that’s great and all, a little dynamics never hurt a record, and SSS have similar beliefs. There aren’t any radical departures, but a few lengthy instrumentals and slower tempos pays off for SSS.
The majority of the songs aim between seven seconds and two minutes. Problems To The Answer has a brisk flow, each song jumping into the next without an abrupt feeling. This mentality provides the type of energy that will get people moving their heads and limbs in wild fashion. This record is definitely unsafe for consumption nearby other human beings unaware of the flailing limbs heading towards them.
With so many short tracks side-by-side, all of which have a similar approach, dealing with repetition comes into play. The band does their part to ensure this is a non-issue, though the first half has spots where this is unavoidable. One of the more helpful tools is the use of a guest vocalist on several tracks. Napalm Death frontman Mark “Barney” Greenway lends his brutal growls to “The Kill Floor,” “Roar,” and “Here Comes The Neighborhood.”
In an industry where bands tend to pack a lot of their best stuff into the early parts, SSS breaks the trend by finishing out with a series of top-notch tunes.
“Deep Sleep” and “Speed Freaks” infuse hard-nosed punk with catchy thrash in a way that would make a band like Municipal Waste crack open a cold one in celebration. The closer that will have people talking is the seven minute instrumental “Strangenotes.” An extended piano break in the middle is the least of the surprises, and is an admirable step away from the norm.
Problems To The Answer may have a little more variety than previous albums, but this is the same stuff the band has been cranking out the past two albums. That’s not a blast against them, as the band has worked out the messy kinks of the past. Better production, sharper musicianship, and a willing urge to not just stick with one-minute blasts of thrash makes Problems To The Answer the band’s best record to date.
(released July 12, 2011 on Earache Records)
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