Criminal – Fear Itself (Metal Blade)

Genre: Thrash Metal

Forged in Chile by frontman Anton Reisenegger, though having long boasted a British contingent and a UK HQ, Criminal are an intriguing act… and one capable of producing some seriously good thrash.

After five years away, Fear Itself essentially marks a fresh start for the quartet, especially with Berlin-based, Chilean lead guitarist Sergio Klein now on board. And this reboot has resulted in an album of vicious, urban metal, precisely executed, technically brilliant, yet also infused with a hefty dose of hardcore spirit.

Fear Itself is also very ‘21st century’ and a long way from Criminal’s early work in the sweaty studios of Santiago de Chile. But the fact that Reisenegger is a hardened scene vet, and that the band have a former Extreme Noise Terror drummer (Zac O’Neil) in their ranks, means they write music that feels real, that’s drawn from life experience. For example, songs like Summoning the Apocalypse and the Seps-eque Shock Doctrine fling snappy rhythms and lacerating riffs your way without ever sounding like contrived mosh fodder. While not all the material here is as effective, the album doesn’t drag or outstay its welcome, and there are plenty of twists to keep things interesting. Plus, Klein’s virtuoso soloing really spices up tracks such as Wasted Youth and brings a valuable extra dimension to the quartet’s searing attack.

OK, so perhaps Criminal may forever be destined to play support slots for thrash’s elite. But on the basis of Fear Itself, they certainly deserve wider recognition.

RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5/10 Fearsome