Metal Review – Criminal Element: Crime and Punishment Pt. 1

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Metal Review – Criminal Element: Crime and Punishment Pt. 1
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Criminal Intent: Crime and Punishment - Part 1
Death Metal, Grindcore
Relapse Records
April 13th, 2010
Release length: 15:23
Myspace
Criminal Element is not a new band, though many out there have probably never heard of this group before now. This act originally formed back in 2001 with Vince Matthews and Spary voyles were both part of Dying Fetus. Since then, there have been various members to the band that have come and gone, including Sparky himself. Now this Death and Grindcore supergroup features member of Dying Fetus and Misery Index, among others for certain members, and newcomer Darin Moris on guitar. Crime and Punishment Pt. 1 marks the band’s third EP release, fourth total including a full-length release back in 2008, and it makes for a great listen, though it’s not really as impressive as one woould expect from this gathering of talented individuals.

Crime and Punishment Pt 1 is actually a decent element, but really just isn’t all that engrossing a listen and can sometimes just sound a little hollow and amateurish in the overall composition and performance. Right off the bat, the vocals sound good, but require a little getting adjusted to if you go into this expecting a more Dying Fetus gutteral vocal approach. While this does appear on the album, it just doesn’t quite fit the style of music being played on this EP, which leads to a more Hardcore or even Thrash vocal style that is mixed with a rhaspier Death Metal growl approach. The problem is that sometimes these vocals ound like that are being held back, like during the closing track “Personal Demons” which really shows a much more intense vocal performance that goes into his more welcomed gutteral instead of a rhaspy Thrash or Hardcore approach.

Musically, this EP really sticks to a more Death Metal style then grindcore. You could even say that the band incorporates some Thrash and Speed Metal influences into the mix quite often, and it sounds simply fantastic. “Backstabber” has some great traditional metal guitar work and technicallity to it, and guitar solos that really stand out and add a unique element to the music overall. While this track really has a heavy Death Metal influence to it, “Fake and a Fraud” is really where the band’s more Thrashier output comes into play, coming at you with great speed and intensity with just enough Death Metal influence in the guitar work to keep this one within the general flow of the EP. This track is also the only time they actually border styles so closely, as the rest of the EP winds up sticking more to a traditional Death Metal approach, with “Crime and Punishment” and “Fading Survival” hosting more of the band’s already established Grindcore sound.

The only problems that can be found on Crime and Punishment Pt. 1 stem from the very end of the EP. First of all, “Fading Survival” winds up sounding a little weak with the drumming used as it seems a bit too slow compared to the faster paced guitars, not to mention the outro of the track sounds a little tacked on and drawn out with it’s slower music that relies on simple guitar chords and a bell chime, sounding like it was copied and pasted digitally two times more then it should have been present in the first place. The closing song, “Personal Demons”, as mentioned earlier, sounds a little restrained vocally at first before all hell breaks lose. Even the music sounds a little lacking, leaving you wishing there was just a little more to the guitars to add the layer of intensity that the rest of this release has.

It may sound off on your first listen, but one or two times through this EP, and you’ll welcome the different musical approach of this EP compared to the previous bands that the members of this group perform with. While not all the songs on this release are the most impressive, there’s still a good chunk that is highly enjoyable and will make you want to start a mosh right where you stand, sit, or whatever position you happen to be in at the time, not just by the heaviness of the Death Metal found on this release, but moreso by the more fun aspects brought in by the early Thrash aspects found throughout the recording. If you’re new to Criminal Element, now is the time to become accustomed to this group.

01. Backstabber – 3:44
02. Fake and a Fraud – 2:58
03. Crime & Punishment – 2:39
04. Fading Survival – 2:51
05. Personal Demons – 3:11

Overall Score: 7/10
Criminal Intent (band)
Criminal Intent (logo)Digital review copy of this release provided by Relapse Records.