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February 21, 2024

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Ancient Chinese Secret
Caveat Emptor (Slap A Ham Records)

By: Jeb Branin

What we have here is one of the most adventurous and exciting forays into the fringe of extreme hardcore in a long time (the fringe of the fringe you might say). A.C.S. consists of two long time mainstays in the power violence underground, namely Matt Martin (ex CAPITALIST CASUALTIES) and Chris Dodge (SPAZZ, Slap A Ham Records, etc) teamed up with trained female vocalist Lydia Dodge who admits to not even liking power violence. The result is an experimental hardcore album that captures the imagination, revels in eclecticism, and still manages to rock your pathetic world. With only bass guitar, drums, vocals, and various key and tape loop embellishments A.C.S. do things with their music that I guarantee you've never heard the likes of before. Their uniqueness is so much a part of their sound that even from track to track they are vastly diverse. Whether it is a song like "The Basics" that has the flavor and directness of early NOMEANSNO or "Sakura" which is as close to "normal" power violence as A.C.S. gets or even the organ interlude "The Overlook", ANCIENT CHINESE SECRET will keep you guessing. Anyone interested in hearing something different needs to check this out. Folks who gravitate towards bands that reject the norm (MITB, GASP, etc) will find their new gods in A.C.S. because in a lot ways this album bridges the gap between the familiar and the bizarre. It has enough roots and simplistic pummeling power to connect it to hardcore fans yet is left of center enough to appeal to fans of music that is way "out there". Hopefully people are smart enough make the connection because it would be a crime if this album got lost somewhere in the middle.
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