Thursday, 1 June 1995


1 - Melanin (2.42)
2 - Slit Wrist (Suicide) (9.44)
3 - Prozac (4.47)
4 - Bed of Nails (4.16)
5 - Sickened (5.44)
6 - Stripped of Skin (5.58)
7 - Autism (2.15)
8 - Blister (4.34)
9 - Down (1.58)
10 - Last Rights (10.53)

Total Running Time - 52.00

Format: CD
Released 1995
Availability: Deleted
"Fuck Fear Factory, forget Nine Inch Nails, and don't even think about mentioning Atrocity, 'Almost Human', a self-financed release from Bristol-based Smear, shits on them all from an impressive height. And yes, that is my honest opinion, no joke. The two man project draws influences from many genres, but still manage to appeal overwhelmingly to me, essentially a Death/Black Metal listener. No single aspect is overdone, samples are used mostly only between tracks, and are not repeated ad nauseum, for instance. This is Metal and there are guitar solos performed mind you, without indulgence. The vocals are only distorted in the odd track, and even then they do not vex me as some bands ones do. And yes, there is a drum machine, but it is programmed with maturity, as if a drummer were behind the kit and not a set of printed circuits.

Smear have a very futuristic sound nonetheless, with penetrating guitar lines and intelligent basswork through the course of the almost hour long duration, although each song has a distinctive consistency and feel. Opener 'Melanin' combines Industrial riffing with technical passages, whilst by contrast 'Slit Wrist (Suicide)' is more Metal-orientated with rhythmic breaks a-plenty. One of my favourite tracks on the album 'Prozac' begins insidiously before progressing with aggressive riffing and excellent 'walking' bass over cascading guitar melodies and other effects. 'Blister' too shows off the class of Loz's (bass and guitars) compositional skills and musicianship with a collection of mean guitar riffs. There are the frentic female shouts on 'Stripped of Skin', the swiftly-paced 'Autism' and the drama-filled 'Last Rights' to cap everything off.
I could go on and on about how the other tracks introduce new rhythmic ideas, moods, and plentiful hooks, but that would partially prevent you finding out for yourselves how good Smear are at what they do. I don't think there will be a band who will manage to hybridise the essense of so many styles and create such a successful end result for a long time. 'Almost Human' is angry but refined, diverse and refreshing. One of the suprises of the year for me, it only astounds me how full of ideas the pair are. With sections remeniscent of bands like Napalm Death, Master's Hammer and Necropsy, this could appeal to a vast amount of people. It's such a shame that the self-financing of the album will not reach them."
Nick Moberly, The Dead Sea fanzine # 2, 1997.

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