Smersh

Super Heavy Solid Waste

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Smersh were a New Jersey-based duo whose myriad self-issued cassettes throughout the '80s and early '90s anticipated much of the industrial dance music that would follow, but the group existed solely as a home studio-based project and remained in obscurity long after founding member Chris Shepard's death put an end to the project in 1994. Josh Cheon's astounding Dark Entries label released Cassette Pets, an utterly essential, sprawling double-LP compendium of the duo's work, in 2012. Super Heavy Solid Waste is a more concise single-disc collection derived from the group's self-released tapes, as well as from a few compilations and releases on European labels KK Records and Börft Records. The LP is a wonderful summation of the group's more rhythmic side, with stiff, thumping drum machine beats covered in thick layers of distorted guitars and pulsating synthesizers. Cassette Pets featured a lot of tracks that demonstrated the group's biting sense of humor through absurdly funny lyrics, but the few vocal-based songs on Super Heavy Solid Waste seem more intent on terrorizing than anything else. "Under Your Hoop" is harsh and pulverizing, with strained screeching that sounds like the singer is being strangled. Tracks like "Highway Surplus" have heavy guitar riffs and pounding dance beats that, despite the thick layers of tape hiss, would've done damage on the dancefloor if the Wax Trax! crowd had been exposed to them. As short as the album is, it's thoroughly exciting, and like Cassette Pets, it makes one eager to explore Smersh's vast back catalog.

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