Criminal Element - Career Criminal (Mini-CD)
file under Death metal
Menno: What would be the result if members and ex-members of major death metal bands like Suffocation, Dying Fetus, Catastrophic and Pyrexia would join forces and start a new group? A sublime US death metal band like Suffocation or Dying Fetus, one would say. Not for these guys.
Men like Terance Hobbs and Vince Mattews get enough fast riffs, impossible solos and measure changes in their own bands. In their new project Criminal Element, they go back in time. Back to the roots, if you will. A big (and maybe) surprising influence clearly can be found in old punk. All songs take only about two minutes, use punk riffs on a regular basis, have simple rhythms and have lyrics with social criticism (written by people like Johan Netherton (Dying Fetus/Misery Index) and Bruce Craig (Covenance)). A clear example is the song 'Career Criminal', which easily could have been a song by Smoking Buddah or The Spades. Of course, this doesn't count for the vocals; they vary from low grunt to high scream the entire record. Suffocation's own Frank Mullen even brings a little contribution to the song 'Dysfunctional'.
Lyrics on subjects like capitalism, working for a boss, gang-fights and religions being meaningless, give the band a nice hardcore-like edge. Hardcore influences can be heard in the mid-tempo parts of the music as well (although blastbeats aren't being avoided). The artwork looks like it's been cut straight out of a cartoon. Prisoners break loose and start fighting the guards, nice and violent, but the clouds of smoke coming out of the guns make it slender as well. Just like the music, the production is pleasantly old-school. The mix gives the music a nice edgy feel.
I might give some people wrong impressions with this story; don't except this to be a pure punk record. The guitars are tuned low, somewhat technical riffs are used every now and then, the vocals are nice a raw, a screaming solo comes flashing by at times and drummer Rob Maresca knows how to blast a beat, so to speak. This is a record with a user manual; it's not your typical death/grind record one would expect from people like Hobbs, Boyer, Maresca, Mattews and Cincotta. It could be compared with a more serious and violent kind of S.O.D.. Well considered cross-over.
Nice to notice is the big, fat spelling error Criminal Element makes while thanking our very own "Sever Torture".
Rating: 71/100 (details)