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Cryptic Slaughter
Released by Metal Blade Records   |   CD   |   1986

Written by Mitch Ribis

Few bands elicit a bigger response in punk/metal circles than Cryptic Slaughter-the mere mention of the name immediately evokes other 'cult classic' bands (metal, punk, or otherwise) such as Blue Cheer, Buzzov*en, The Plasmatics, The Crumbsuckers, Carnivore, etc. They retain a rabid fanbase comprised of long-time fans from their early inception to newer converts turned on to them via bands they influenced such as...let's just say that a lot of grindcore bands seriously owe their ass to Cryptic Slaughter.

Despite the fact that the sheer velocity and aggression of Cryptic Slaughter's music was arguably an early purveyor of the genre that became grindcore they are almost always lumped into the 'crossover' sub-genre-and that's fine, because as a straight grindcore band they lack many of the genre's cliches,especially in the vocal deptartment, to the point where it is extremely difficult to label them as such. From a crossover point of view, they are without equal-they blow contemporaries like D.R.I. and Suicidal Tendencies out of the water in terms of speed, aggression and sheer versatility, but never could seem to gather the same succes and recognition of those two aforementioned bands, who later went on to major labels and high profile tours (numerous Clash of the Titans in D.R.I.'s case, and a stint with Metallica in the mid-90's in Suicidal's).But who needs to be on monochromatic tours like that when you can share the stage with bands as diverse as Negative Approach and Possesed (which Cryptic Slaughter did as evinced by the reproduced flyers in the re-release of 'Convicted'). Like the amorphous alien monster in John Carpenter's 'The Thing' , Cryptic Slaughter is a many-tentacled, many-headed mutate-they take the snotty punk vocal delivery of Circle Jerks, the socio-political commentary of Discharge and Crass, the clean 80's guitar tone of thrash paragons Exodus and Testament, Battalion of Saints meets Venom riffing, and the blistering drumbeats of Siege and Repulsion throw it in a blender and set it on 'high'.

The end result is their stuning debut 'Convicted', which could easily be considered a landmark of several genres-punk, hardcore, thrash, grindcore.I won't bore you with a track by track summary but the whole album, if not the whole Cryptic Slaughter ethos is encapsulated in two of the best tracks off this album, namely 'Low Life' and 'State Control.' The first one stars of with a drum pattern that would not be out of place in an Exploited or Chaos U.K. record and is soon followed by a catchy riff on the style of Discharge but better-the overall production is very good, very stereo. The vocal delivery is rapid-fire, sometimes sounding like he's trying to catch up with the music, And then that great,great chorus-the drums are like a hailstorm and the bass is audible, not buriedi in the mix, superb and constistent throughout.'State Control' is shorter but equally strong. It starts out with a nice bass riff followed by a mid-tempo drumbeat. Suddenly the bass kicks in and it's on. Sure the songs are short but it actually lends to the strength of the songs-this is punk (or a variation thereof) after all. There are a few bonus features as well-there is a live version of 'Low Life' from a show in Houston that is even faster than the studio version-much to Cryptic Slaughter's credit. Conclusion-get it if you can-Relapse have re-released it much to the joy of record collectors everywhere. It is a nice snapshot of an era which resonates today and which has influenced other terrific bands like Napalm Death (who cover them on 'Leaders Not Followers'), Bloodwolf, Ed Gein, etc.


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