The first full (or fuller) release from Scratch Acid following a compilation appearance, the band's self-titled debut makes an intriguing historical document -- on the one hand, it's not too hard to draw the immediate connection to the Jesus Lizard, but on the other, it's clearly not that later incarnation, not yet. David Yow's singing, high and strangulated as it might be, is surprisingly intelligible throughout, while guitarist Brett Bradford, though perfectly serviceable as a player, isn't Duane Denison when it comes to completely gone and fried guitar parts. He raises one hell of a racket when he can nonetheless, while the David Sims/Rey Washam rhythm section comes up with a taut enough post-punk thrash that actually does emphasize the bass, something of a rarity for the band's time and place. The roots of the band are perfectly clear as well -- "Greatest Gift" couldn't be any more of a specific Cramps tribute if they tried, Yow pulling off a pretty good Lux Interior, while "Monsters" reinterprets the Birthday Party's frenzied bacchanalias and "El Espectro" could be proto-tribal-goth from either the U.K. or L.A. circa 1982. Unexpected elements like the weird, moody string arrangement that courses throughout "Owner's Lament" -- courtesy of Washam -- and the female spoken word part on (appropriately) "She Said" work even better given the clear enough mix. Then there are various vomiting noises by Yow toward the end of "Mess," a little taster of where things would yet eventually end up.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett