Album Reviews

#Sassafras: The Pack A.D.

#Sassafras: The Pack A.D.

The Pack A.D. // Do Not Engage
Record Label: Nettwerk Records (Released:January 28th, 2014)

The gates of hell in Dante Alighieri’s Inferno read a warning: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. The Pack A.D. brings you a similar warning on their first full-length on Nettwerk: Do Not Engage. Heed the warning if you know what’s good for you.

Becky Black (guitars and vocals) and Maya Miller (drums) light a fire on their fifth album with the first hit of the giant drums in “Airborne”. To know what to expect over the next 10 tracks, just listen to the lyrics: “I’ll be immortal while you turn to dust”. Moody and thick with flanged guitar, Airborne is a great lead-off track. “Big Shot” is a straight up rocker that is the only song I know to name drop Austrailian actor Chips Rafferty, “Animal” rears it’s vicious head with fuzzlicious slurring guitar and thump-n-splash drums and “Creepin’ Jenny” is a thrasher with bizarre lyrics.

Sitting in the middle of the track listing is the first single released from the album last fall. “Battering Ram” swings first and asks questions later with lines like “It’s not muscle nor wit that I need, just the weapon that lives inside me”. The Vancouver, BC duo swings like The Cramps on “Stalking Is Normal”, an ode to being a creeper. “You don’t remember be at all. I’ve got pictures of you on my wall” sings Black through a too-hot mic adding grit and grease to an already sinister cut.

“Loser” slows it down temporarily with distant, drowning vocals before picking up and spastically hitting like a dream intertwined with a nightmare. Harkening back to a time when Radiohead was a rock band (circa Pablo Honey), the cut has a great early-90s sound. Closing out Do Not Engage, “Needles” has Black standing alone in the spotlight with lyrics that cut to the bone for anyone going through what feels like the end of the world. It’s incredibly personal and intimate and the lack of pounding drums and guitar make it all the more intense.

Do Not Engage isn’t a showcase for a band that was just snatched up by a label to capitalize on the latest fad, nor are they another white stripes. This duo is out for themselves. They are no-nonsense and they mean business. Only those that have prepared themselves should disobey their warning.

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Mark Nason

January 27th, 2014

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