December 11, 2008 | | 3.5

Criminal Element, Guilty as Charged

Criminal Element is what one would call a super group. Featuring current members of Miser Index and Suffocation, as well as former members of Dying Fetus, the group take their collective experience and funnel it through a corroded sewer pipe, spewing death-thrash as it exits. The 12 tracks on Guilty as Charged are comprised of pulverizing rhythms, caustic, evil guitars and nasty vocals — and some serious groove injected throughout.

Right from the start of the opening track as it echos gun shots, Criminal Element never let up on the cranial bludgeoning until you’ve been battered within an inch of your life. Thick guitar tones dominate the overall feel of the album as the rhythm section lay down some nasty beats and crushing paces. The vocals are raw and pretty straightforward like a vat of battery acid sprayed in your face.

Blood Money
The opening rack starts out with a series of gun shot sound effects before opening with some absolutely maniacal drumming and memorable riffage. If the pace of “Blood Money” is any indication, we’re going to be in for one hell of a ride. The vocals are aggressive and raw, but carry the rhythm of the track well. This one is straight to the skull destruction. I love the huge scream just before the two minute mark and the slick lead that follows. The track ends with some slamming death meal groove and chugging riffs.

Shots Fired
This next song starts off big with massive riffs and slowly building drum work. Once the opening guttural growl comes in the band settle into a fairly punishing groove and then unleash unholy hell on your with driving blasts and the primary vocal attack.

Snitch Bitch Homicide
The guitars that get this one started are pretty raw, especially in combination with the opening vocal delivery. Man there’s a shit load of groove in this on as Criminal Element shift radically from tempo to tempo. The track ends quickly after just a minute.

Smash and Grab
“Smash and Grab” has a great, old school punk thrash vibe to it initially as the band drive a pummel rhythm through your spine. The vocals are a bit more guttural on this one as the pace seems to quicken exponentially. Aggressive and evil, this one doesn’t let up until we’ve been forced to move onto the next song.

Unjust Incarceration
An evil bit of guitar work greets the listener before bludgeoning drums and riffing swallow them whole. This one is just straight up diabolical sounding. Lots of chugging riffs, massive double bass drum, and vocal cadences really make this one a stand out track — not to mention the lead at 1:10.

Murder One
The pace keeps pummeling along with “Murder One.” More sick and evil riffs fill the air as drum blasts explode at will. This one is a chugging monstrosity of a track, especially with the manic blast just before the two minute mark — it’s freakin’ killer.

Guilty as Charged
Fast paced riffing and pummeling drums keep the blood flowing from open wounds with the title track. Thick, nasty bass rumbles beneath the din of aggression. A sick lead at :42 shreds pretty damned hard. There’s some decent groove along with some utterly guttural gurgles around 1:30.

Future Felon
“Future Felon” opens with some unholy blasts and hellish rhythms as thick riffs tear through the air. This one is full on aggression to a fault. And it only seems to get more in-your-face as it progresses. Be sure to stick around for the evil lead around 1:15.

Habitual Offender
Man, just when you think these guys couldn’t open a song any more brutal… they hit you at the base of the skull with this sledgehammer of a track. It’s got great thrash riffs and an unrelenting, bruising rhythm. More deep guttural growls accompany the baseline vocals to create a nice dynamic sound. I love the base work that slithers in the background on this one.

Suicide by Cop
“Suicide by Cop” opens with some decent riffing and groove. It’s overall sound is raw and caustic as it pummels it’s way through your face.

Pounding Metal
This one is an Exciter cover and is just fun as hell to listen to. The lyrics are cheesy as hell, but when combined with the band’s take on the song, it’s just over the top awesome. Thick riffing and layered, gnarly vocals dominate this one. It doesn’t really fit with the rest of the album, but who gives a fuck.

Angry Neurotic Catholic
The final track is also a cover. This time Criminal Element take on Carnivore’s “Angry Neurotic Catholic.” It’s definitely more inline with the rest of Guilty as Charged with it’s high-paced, frenetic pace. Not a bad cover either.

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Much like sticking your face in the muzzle of a rabid pit bull, Criminal Element will leave you battered, bloody and bruised. Their take on death metal infused thrash is aggressive, caustic and just hellified entertaining. Guilty as Charged is 12 tracks of good old fashioned, kick-you-in-your-teeth metal.

Favorite Tracks:
All of them

Additional Notes: