SSS

The Dividing Line

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It's no exaggeration to say that Liverpool's SSS (which stands for "Short Sharp Shock") effectively put the beat-down into Merseybeat with their eponymous 2007 debut album and its furious revival of '80s-style crossover hardcore/thrash. Here were four Limeys, comfortably picking up the torch first lit by their transatlantic heroes -- Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, etc. -- some 20 years earlier, and dousing them in gallons of lighter fluid embodied by their new millennium-level controlled speed and technical precision -- now that's a fire! So for their all-important follow-up, 2008's The Dividing Line, SSS made sure to go one better, by sticking with their no-holds-barred philosophy, even as they somehow jammed no less than 20 surprisingly distinctive "Short Sharp Shocks" (most averaging 90 seconds in length) into 32 minutes of organized mayhem. And it works, since for all of their frequent and aesthetically defining bursts of aggression, hyper-thrash nuggets like "Toxic Bee," "Purple Reign," and even the 43-second burp "Oil and Water" (which is very AF) still boast innumerable unexpected time changes, fluid bass runs, and metallic guitar riffs and harmonies, among other ingredients. By the time SSS "indulge" themselves with a four-minute "epic," "Unrest in the Northwest," which closes the album, it's abundantly clear that they can play pretty much anything, and this makes their devotion to inflicting concentrated jabs of adrenaline all the more powerful.

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