Short Sharp Shock (SSS) have been around peddling their brand of old school 80s era crossover thrash since the release of their self titled EP and similarly titled full length back in 2006. Their latest hilariously titled foray wasn’t even a blip on my radar, but with a title like Limp.Gasp.Collapse, how could I resist checking it out? What I discovered was a band with a fairly decent catalogue of moderately well received albums that grab at the coat tails of the D.R.I. and thrash-heads like Wehrmacht and Stormtroopers of Death. With influence like that, does Short Sharp Shock‘s new release have staying power of does it live up to its title.
Limp.Gasp.Collapse opens up strong with “For Your Own Good,” a forceful but moderately paced opening track. Dave Archer’s drumwork coercively and heavy handedly grabs your attention, refusing to just slink by unnoticed in the background. Stu Taylor’s guitar packs a mean crunch, his riff-work is chunky, catchy and has all the nasty thrashy familiarity of the 80s crossover genre. The song rolls along roughly, full of grinding piss and vinegar thanks to Foxy’s vocal barrage, coming to a high point when Taylor’s big stinging solo pops up towards the back end. While “For Your Own Good” is a great start, the excitement comes to a snarling head with the following track, “Dead Wood.” SSS pick up the pace enough to snap your neck and Foxy introduces some welcome dual vocal theatrics to the mix. On one hand he can deliver a nicely unhinged blackened snarl that drips with spit, and on the other he has a D.R.I. punk-like brazenness that sounds a hell of a lot like the late great Oderus Urungus of GWAR.
Moving onwards, Foxy bounces backwards and forwards between a range of vocal styles. In “Stress of Excess” and “Slaves to Persuasion” for example, he opts for his GWAR-like growl and in album high point “Beige” and its follow-up, “Power Down,” he adds that little blackened something extra. Limp.Gasp.Collapse sticks to the frontal lobe in a fun way, being packed with catchy and melodic drum and guitar-work (including some sick solos) held in check by grind-like samples and micro-song nastiness that keeps things heavy and demanding. All things considered then, this album should be top notch, so why isn’t it?
Examining Limp.Gasp.Collapse closely and letting it fully ruminate and sink in brings its shortfalls into focus. Despite the diversity of the vocals, Foxy has lost some of the pissed off anger that he had on the bands earlier releases. In addition, like the rest of Short Sharp Shock‘s discography, Limp.Gasp.Collapse suffers heavily from album fatigue. The album contains tracks that are considerably longer than the micro-songs SSS have offered in the past, “Crushed by Drudgery” even exceeding the 10-minute mark! I have to give SSS a high five for cutting the album down from Down to the Answer‘s 25 tracks to a mere 14 songs and a little over 37 minutes, but based on the flow of the album and the composition of the tracks, Limp.Gasp.Collapse naturally winds down around the end of “Beige” making this the point where your attention wanes. Including “Slave to Persuasion” and “Crushed by Drudgery” prior to “Beige” would have made this the kind of short sharp shock I was looking for.
The production on Limp.Gasp.Collapse is reminiscent of the bands earlier work, possibly a little cleaner than you expect for an album punting that old school 80s era sound. That said, the bass is nicely audible with a particularly tasty bass riff standing out in “Inside the Box.” As a whole this album has some great song writing with lyrics that fascinate, but it goes on too long with a definite split of A-side and B-side material. Weed out the B-side material and you have a winner.