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ALBUM REVIEW: Fear Itself – Criminal

CRIMINAL have been consistently delivering a brilliant blend of pure death, thrash and hardcore throughout their 25 year long career. They have supported bands like METALLICA, KREATOR and SLAYER but were very reserved in reaching the high successes that they had, in a way it left the South American founded band untainted but in another, the world has been missing out on one of the greatest, most furious bands.

Fear Itself is the 8th studio album from CRIMINAL but also the first in five years and it is possibly one of the freshest albums that has come out in a long while on the metal scene. At first impression with Intro, it almost appears that the album could be just that slightly bit duller than their previous works, feeling almost at a slow tempo and withdrawn but the second the rest of the album kicks in with Down Driven and False Flag Attack, it is the best sort of chaos you can ever want from a straight up, no cares given metal band.

Throughout the entirety of the album, it holds a tight punch and the music is always on an attack, never giving room for anything else to get in edgeways to take away the power they have. The solo in False Flag Attack says it all, possibly one of the best tracks on Fear Itself. It shows that the band have not cared for production on a scale that many others do now and have opted just for going straight for it and it works, it is one of the most engaging things to hear from a thrash metal fuelled album, sounding unpolished and unclean and knowing that what you’re hearing is what you’re getting and there are no complaints with CRIMINAL on this record.

It is ultimately when tracks like The Needle and Knife and Summoning the Apocalypse kick in that CRIMINAL are only set to get more furious and also that they have held something that so many bands lost along the way of their successes, the ability to keep an attitude on them, something that made thrash and still makes one of the most significant genres in the world of metal.

Whilst technicalities could be discussed, it would seem wrong when there is a band full of passion like CRIMINAL throwing out records like Fear Itself. It should be discussed with as much passion as what is seeping out of the speakers when this fine album is being played.

There is no doubt that from start to finish on this album that speed, aggression and attitude has taken over and been delivered with such brute force without stopping. One of the finest examples would be The One Who Speaks at Night, it is one of the most furious tracks on the entire album and without a doubt sets the mood for every metal fan when they need to listen to something meaty and something that would butcher everything else in its path.

Whilst there are many similarities to other bands in the thrash, death metal and hardcore genres, CRIMINAL have moulded everything together so effortlessly, it is evident that pure passion and attitude created this album and that even without the top of the range production that gets so many bands through the doors nowadays, they don’t need it and honestly never will. Over the years, CRIMINAL have flourished magnificently but they have never lost what they are true to themselves about. Fear Itself is an album that is heavy, it is speedy and it is filled with angst, it is an album that should be on every thrash metal fans mind, CRIMINAL are unstoppable after this release without a doubt.

Rating: 9/10

Fear Itself - Criminal

Fear Itself is out now via Metal Blade Records.

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Jessica Howkins

Co Editor-in-Chief for Distorted Sound Magazine, Music Journalism student.