Cripper - Hyena - (8.5/10)
Published on February 9, 2015
There is always that strange period after spending too many hours on too many nights crafting a best of the year list when you discover bands that should have made the list, but didn’t. It’s frustrating. Cripper and their third album Hyena are one of those moments. Upon listening to the extreme thrash band’s latest record, my first time with the band considering I have only stumbled upon the name once or twice previously, I was shocked at the blend of modern structures and the raw and ferocious approach to the thrashy foundations. Shocked enough, that Hyena might have made my best thrash year-end list had I heard it sooner.
On the surface level, Hyena presents itself as a dense death thrash record with enough crunch and chaos to please fans of either genre. It has enough riffs, growls, and head banging rhythms to most certainly boil the blood. With a production and sound that accentuates the above-mentioned attributes, the dark and rather vicious record only sounds darker and more vicious. Hyena is one of those albums that simply came off as brutal without necessarily having the deepest vocals or sternum rattling guitar tones – which is massive praise in my book. Thrashy riffs, a barrage drums, and of course the snarling growl of the vocals all make sure that at its core, Hyena is a devastating thing.
One thing that Hyena teases for Cripper is their ability to blend some diverse elements into their core sound. While 95% of Hyena is pure, undoctored death thrash, there is some intriguing elements that spring up here and there. “Animated Flesh” features a rather captivating swing rhythm to the guitars and the drums that almost leans the track into the dividing ‘groove metal’ genre and the finale “Pure” works as a rather epic track with an atmospheric and melodic intro built into the writing. As if that wasn’t pushing it enough, there is also a couple times where a sort of alternative metal vibe shimmers through the grime and crunch. There is a whispering bridge in the already groovy “The Jackhammer” that really comes to mind in regards to this injection of style change that might throw off your normal thrasher partaking in this record. Not that either of these choices are a massive portion of the record, but it certainly takes the record into some unexpected pastures.
As is, Hyena probably should have made my list for best thrash albums of last year. It’s a record that takes the well tread style of death thrash and injects just enough new texture of genre bending to allow it to breathe on its own regard. It’s still a vicious record overall and the balance of modern influence to the raw and dark sound makes for a rather unique experience. Cripper have leaped into my ‘must listen to’ queue from now on and don’t be surprised if you see me explore their back catalog here on The Metal Observer.