Back in the old days when you didn’t have to be subtle about your band names, Wehrmacht were formed in Portland, Oregon. A five-piece thrash act typical of the era, their songs were pretty standard fare – silly, violent, shouty… and fun.
Their first album, Shark Attack, did well on the old tape trading scene but like many acts back then they didn’t quite “make it” and they went their separate ways. Drummer Brian Lehfeldt toured with Everclear for a while in the 90’s and played in Cryptic Slaughter.
A few years ago they reformed and released an EP and a couple of new tracks. There’s been talk of a new album, but in the meantime we have this – the original Shark Attack. Remastered and limited to 500 copies (each numbered), it’s packaged with new liner notes from the band, rare images and – bizarrely – a lyrics sheet translated into Russian.
Musically it’s very typical of the day. Lo-fi recording, slightly tinny/echo-y, blasts along like an express train that’s running away from a bigger express train that’s chasing it with a chainsaw. You know the kind of thing. You can tell it was put together by a bunch of kids on a shoestring, something absolutely confirmed by the track “Puke” which does seem like a genuine recording of one of our young upstarts vomiting into a bag while his bandmates look on in sidesplit horror.
While the recording quality, despite remastering, isn’t going to be up to the standards of a modern album, that’s not the point. Shark Attack is a slice of history and an enjoyable one that. Sure, it’s no Bonded By Blood or Metal Up Your Ass (actually, it’s probably not that far behind Metallica’s earlier effort), but it’s a great snapshot of amateur thrash right back at the start of the genre.
There are very obvious punk influences, and the band mention hardcore in their style as well. Most of the tracks are pretty short, with one exception – “Fretboard Gymnastics” – which isn’t as thrashy as the rest and actually ends with more of a heavy, crunchy sound. The last couple of tracks actually seem to come over a little more bass-heavy and better produced. I can only assume they’ve taken better to the remastering process.
If you got the album back in the day, now’s your chance to own a copy that’s actually listen-to-able as I doubt any cassettes from back then will have survived!
Shark Attack is released on February 20th