September 10, 2010 | , | 3.5

Criminal Element, Crime and Punishment

Criminal Element: Crime and Punishment

In 2008, this band of miscreants — featuring present and former members of Misery Index and Dying Fetus — unleashed their debut full-length. It was a raucous, violent and in-your-face blast of death metal-tinged thrash. I loved it!

Criminal Element‘s latest effort, Crime and Punishment, is this five track EP. And while it only lasts just north of 15 minutes, it’s got plenty of weight behind it. The band’s brand of grimy thrash has elements of death metal, hardcore and grind thrown in for good measure along with plenty of groove  more than enough to leave you drooling, breathless and thirsting for more. Joining the thundering drums and maniacal guitars, Vince Matthews’ vocals are vicious and layered with plenty of vehemence giving the crusty thrash oozing from the speakers a, for lack of a better word, criminal vibe.

Not ones to overstay their welcome, the band is gone just as quickly as they forcibly entered your cranial cavity and kicked your cerebral cortex’s ass with this blast of bludgeoning metal, Crime and Punishment.

“Backstabber” gets us started off with a brief sound clip regarding what they’re “bringin’” before getting down to business with a good bit of chugging thrash. The first 40 seconds or so certainly sets the tone for the album. Matthews’ vocal barks fit the overall vibe of the back alley beatdown the rest of the band is serving up. The blend of hardcore, death and a little grind make for one hell of an aggressive sound. The layered screams throughout the track are a nice touch, as well.

Fake and A Fraud
I love the opening guitar work to “Fake and A Fraud,” especially as the band ramps it up as the vocals come in. This is song is fueled by a break-neck pace and in-your-face vocals — just what you need to get your day off to a good start. The lead at 1:08 shreds nicely. Love the chugging rhythm to this track.

Crime & Punishment
The title track gets under way with a nice bit of guitar work amongst the pummeling drums and aggressive vocal barks. This track is by far the most technical on the EP. The slick guitars and rapid fire tempo lay waste to anything within close proximity to your stereo as Matthews spits out his lyrics with plenty of vitriol. This is a well crafted and memorable track.

Fading Survival
There’s a bit of a Lamb of God presence to this next song, but with a much more raw and grimy overall vibe. That’s all quickly erased from recent memory as the guys explode in a frenzy of blasting drums and sick leads. “Fading Survival” has some catchy moments, but for the most part sounds a lot alike stuff we’ve heard in the past.

Personal Demons
“Personal Demons” fades in slowly from the distance, carrying squealing guitars and rumbling drums as the band gets to full volume about 30 seconds in. This is an interesting song, as well, that’s got some decent groove and a more flowing vocal presentation (instead of the barks we’ve heard so far). The activity finally gets a bit more frenzied at the two minute mark with blasting drums and a more guttural vocal punch.

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