For those of you who know me or have read my reviews, you can tell how much I positively love death thrash. Because I have so much affection for it, I seek out as many new albums of this ilk every year. I am always looking for the next big thing. My obsession can also make me overly critical of every new album that comes out. I go through every minute detail and dissect each one over and over in my head until I form my opinion. Now, I have Cripper’s Metal Blade Records debut in my cross hairs. After listening multiple times and going over the album with a fine toothed comb, I can tell you with absolute certainty that Hyëna is a very worthy record.
The thing I respect most about Hyëna is that it does not subscribe to the in the box death thrash formula. It expands on the sound offering a great mingling of musical pacing. There are slower, groovy jams like “Animated Flesh” and “Jackhammer” while “Hyëna”, “Bloodshot Monkey Eye” and “The Origin” give off more of a melodic death metal vibe. There is also the super slow album closer, “Pure” that features some really awesome doom style riffage.
As good as all of the above mentioned songs are, Cripper’s hyper fast thrash anthems are where the album radiates with the power of a thousand suns. “Tourniquet”, “A Dime for the Establishment” and “Patterns in the Sky” immediately kick you in the nuts with speedy guitars, short yet pointed solos and spectacular lead riffs. While “7”” and “Patronized” go with an excellent blending of quickness, catchy grooves and phenomenal raspy vocals. You just can’t go wrong with any of these.
Speed is definitely important to any thrash album but it is only one of a few elements that must come together to make a pleasing record. Other areas of importance include strong gallops and first-class vocals. The value of the guitar gallop has been lost on most of the newer generation of thrash bands. However, Cripper made sure to throw in a heavy dose on their latest album, most noticeably on the songs “Animated Flesh”, “Patterns in the Sky” and “Pure”.
Vocals are also extremely important. In thrash they can go a few different ways. You have the James Hetfield “cha, ya” style. Then there’s the more extreme metal high pitch and/or rasp of Steve Souza, Bobby Ellsworth and Tom Araya. Finally, we have the guttural death thrash style, made most famous by Max Cavalera on Sepultura’s early albums. Cripper is a band that chooses to go the guttural route. When I originally began hearing about them, I thought: “Oh great, another female death metal vocalist” but once I heard their first single, “Tourniquet”, I was hooked. Britta “Elchkuh” Görtz uses a death metal vocal that also implements a good amount of raspy abrasiveness. This sets her apart from other over-produced death metal singers. Görtz is definitely one of the top female screamers to come around in recent years.
With a great conglomeration of paces, excellent guitar work, tremendous vocals and no skipable songs to speak of, Cripper’s Hyëna is a fun listening experience to say the least. The album proves that Germans continue to make superior thrash music. Their fellow countrymen in Kreator, Sodom and Destruction will no doubt be proud. These bands set the bar for extreme thrash and Cripper has begun to build upon that legacy. In addition to this, with its slower/heavier melodic death metal influences, Hyëna is an album that fans of Arch Enemy should really enjoy as well. I literally put Cripper’s major label debut under a microscope and it passed the majority of the tests with flying colors. If you love death thrash like I do, make sure you give Cripper your support. You can check them out on their official Facebook page and website.
Hyëna will be released on November 25, 2014 through Metal Blade Records. Take a listen when you get the chance and give us your thoughts on the album in the comments section.