Critical Solution - Sleepwalker - (7/10)
Published on March 19, 2016
Genre:Thrash / Heavy Metal
Critical Solution are a Norwegian band who just released their second full-length effort earlier this year. They play an interesting style of heavy metal that is influenced in various ways and at various levels by thrash metal and sometimes speed metal. But this album is a really interesting listen as it doesn’t really fit nicely into any category. That’s not to say that you can’t spot any clear influences, because you definitely can. It’s just that from one track to the next (and sometimes one riff to the next) the styles may shift rather starkly and the effect can be pretty startling.
Over the length of the album you can find long, thrashy passages where galloping riffs are getting cranked out by a machine gun of semiquavers with the snare sounding off every other beat in classic thrash style, and then you might hear a slow ballad-like section with melodic leads and backing vocals. So if at this point, you’re thinking to yourself that this would be a good description of either Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets, you would be quite right; that vibe is very strong here. But that’s what’s weird: they don’t sound like a Metallica clone at all, even if you do get that feel pretty strongly in a number places on the album. Speaking of similarities to Metallica, the lead playing on here is seriously good, and for those of you who prefer pre-Justice Metallica, fear not: the bass parts are not only very creative but they are mixed in perfectly as well.
Besides Metallica, they have a number of lesser influences going into their work, one of which is the occasional streak of the progressive/technical side of things. Some of the lead sections fall into this side of things with their erratic and disjointed execution. They also have a number of time and tempo changes scattered throughout that contribute to a bit of a proggy feel, it isn’t strong and it certainly doesn’t saturate the album, so it would be silly to categorise them as a “progressive thrash” band in any real sense.
The album’s highlight is the mammoth eleven-minute epic, “Dear Mother,” which is where you hear all sorts of influences other than the ones previously mentioned. Besides being the longest and strongest track on the album, it’s also the most daring as it showcases styles not heard on the rest of the album. It’s a little slower than the rest of the album, but make no mistake: this one is a really catchy track and was an instant headbanger for me. It’s like the perfect marriage of Iron Maiden and Metallica into a single song. The vocals in the chorus are particularly on point here as they capture the raw emotion behind the spirit of the song beautifully.
The album is without a doubt a solid effort, and even though the other songs don’t quite live up to the splendour of the highlight track, there aren’t any duds here at all.