Guilty As Charged
posted on 3/2009 By:
I missed out on Criminal Element's earlier EP (2005's Career Criminal), so I didn't truly know what to expect from the full-length from this death/grind side project of former and current members of Dying Fetus, Misery Index, and Suffocation. While Criminal Element certainly doesn’t reach the lofty heights of any of the three bands that spawned it, it’s no slouch in its own right. It’s neither groundbreaking nor amazing, but it’s a rock-solid slice of pummeling beats and sharp riffs, and I’m certainly cool with that.
Of its three pre-eminent forefathers, Criminal Element sounds closest to Dying Fetus’ punky groovy death, with plenty of choppy rhythm guitars and flying kick drums. Vince Matthews alternates between a low growl and a midrange snarl, and the standout instrumental performance is the manic precision of drummer Adam Jarvis. From Jarvis’ other outfit Misery Index, the band borrows a crusty grind-tinged aesthetic, and from Suffocation comes some tech-metal flourishes and crushing non-bullshit breakdowns. The songwriting is good without being great—about one or two moments per song standout, but overall, no one song comes to the forefront; no one song stands out as better than the rest. For fans of the old-school, there are covers of both Carnivore’s "Angry Neurotic Catholics" and Exciter’s "Pounding Metal," but both are less inspired than the band’s own compositions.
Overall, I enjoyed Guilty As Charged quite a bit, but I still can't say that I'll spin it in place of Traitors or any record by Suffocation. Like so many bands today, Criminal Element is not reinventing their chosen style, not pushing the boundaries, but they do what they do very well, and if you’re a fan of groovy death/grind, then check 'em out.
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