The kind of snarky, weed-addled thrash grind that used to comprise a good chunk of the Relapse mail-order catalogue, San Francisco's POPULATION REDUCTION can't help but be a little ramshackle and second-tier on their debut full-length (and I use that term loosely – these are some short songs). A band like this wouldn't work if they got too polished or serious – it's just two guys, one on guitar and one on drums, knocking out killer thrash riffs and clattering blast beats with the pervasive punk attitude that marked most of the pre-1990 grindcore these guys huff paint fumes to.
It's good stuff for fans of that sort of thing, and just about no one else, the subject matter alone likely to cause a little bit of bumming out on the message board front lines ("Road-Age at the Farmers Market" is about that old man who lost control of his car some time back and mowed down a bunch of pedestrians, and you get three guesses about what famous hair metal band's tragic fire is the subject of "Cock Rock Barbecue"). Keep in mind that this isn't the noise of ANAL CUNT, or the nonstop blast beating of modern-day grind bands – there are cool instrumental interludes, thrash polka beats, and head-down chug parts, making these short, sharp manifestoes pretty catchy and memorable, despite themselves. There's as much EXCEL or NUCLEAR ASSAULT as there is NASUM in the POPULATION REDUCTION mix, if not more.
The band's press kit claims that every song here could be dropped seamlessly onto Earache's 1989 "Grindcrusher" comp, and I would agree, sorta. This may not be groundbreaking or timeless stuff like REPULSION or NAPALM DEATH was, but think of the lesser-known bands from that era — think UNSEEN TERROR or HELLBASTARD, maybe. POPULATION REDUCTION, if they could hitch a ride to 1988 in some retro-thrash band's time machine, would at least get a Peel Session of their own, and they'd be at least as well known and loved by a few stunted diehards as, say, ELECTRO HIPPIES are today. Something tells me they'll take that as a compliment. (P.S. While "Black Metal Beach Party" and "Amish Meth Dealer" are fucking hilarious, I gotta admit I'm pretty down about the GREAT WHITE song myself. I must be getting old.)