CripperWhen I saw ‘German Thrash’ in the brief description of the band, I knew I had to review this album. Having reviewed the promising Dust Bolt earlier this year, tackling the slightly more established Cripper was something I looked forwards to. Making their big label debut with album number 4 (Hyëna), this technically sound and groove driven female fronted five piece from Hannover aren’t to be taken lightly.

” Hyëna” opens the album with an intro very reminiscent of Metallica’s ‘Blackened’ – the whole reverse effect going on, but this is over a solid groove. When the main part of the song kicks in, the similarities to the once great thrash act end. Precise palm muted guitar chugs under a simple but effective lead line give way to a twisting riff with the venomously delivered vocals from Britta (Think Arch Enemy, but better) signal the intent this band brings. It’s no nonsense Teutonic thrash at its finest. Rich in aggression and melody, the title track is a fantastic way to get your attention and it holds it for the full length! “Tourniquet” is the shortest track on the album, and the breakneck speed of the initial riffs let you know what this song is all about. Light on groove, this track is delivered with all the power you’d expect of a short thrash song. Taking no prisoners, its twisting riffs, quick and aggressively delivered lyrics and relentless rhythm work storm through the track and the technically sound solo tops it off rather nicely.

“Bloodshot Monkey Eye” opens with a droning pedal tone riff over a thick sounding bass-line before it descends into a full on groove. The moment the verse starts, it’s impossible to resist the urge to headbang along to the guitar driven groove. Round the 2:15 mark, the intro riff returns, this time over a more powerful drum pattern, amplifying the intensity which after some trademark thrash gallop riffs turns into a solid Testament-esque solo. As the song comes to a close, the bass takes over the lead duties with a nice sounding solo/melody which ends the track in an almost calm manner. “A Dime for the Establishment” shatters that calm instantly. Exploding to life from the off, the full on traditional thrash approach grabs you by the neck and forces you to headbang along. Cutting riffs, Slayer styled lead-work and full on intense gang vocals in the chorus make this song something which would be a joy to experience in a live setting. With its politically charged lyrics and aggressive edge, its clearly an angry number and in thrash, the angrier, the better right? ” 7″ ” Follows on and it kicks off with a heavy sounding, slow paced groove approach. Thick ringing out chords give way to a spoken sample and a more subtle sounding version of the intro riff before it explodes back into life. The vocals are venomously delivered and much like the rest of the band, it shows no mercy in the delivery.

“Animated Flesh” starts off with a big dramatic drum build up over a simple chugging riff and melody. Keeping the simple approach, it starts off in a steady groove, but as it progresses, it shifts up a gear. In the more frantic parts, the vocals go almost death metal like and the buzzing twin guitars and frantic lead sections just top everything off. “The Origin” is another groove laden track with some classic thrash styled guitar work. The rhythm stays precise and solid whilst the lead just snakes its way in and out of it, constantly diverting your attention from the groove to the thrash all the way through. With one of the best vocal performances on the album and a collection of fantastic riffs which just hook you, this is one of the many highlights of this album so far. “Patterns in the Sky” is another short track. The rhythm section holds its own here, keeping the guitar assault locked in place with precise timing, and the vocals are strong. The frantic stomp-feel riffs add more urgency to an already urgent sounding track and there isn’t much else to say here, it’s just a typical quick thrash song.

“The Jackhammer” is riff heavy in the intro and the repeated muted chugs chip away just like the object the track is named after. Pounding away, the drums really shine in this track, dictating the feel. Halfway through the song, it slows to a hypnotic riff and intensity building vocal section which starts as a whisper before growing into a raw sounding low growl. The heavy Pantera-feel groove which follows is great and the brief flurry of urgency right before the end wraps it up nicely. “Patronized” is a full on thrash assault from the off and just from the intro, you get the feeling this could be one of those songs which really comes to life in the live setting. The chorus sections are slightly slower and more groove orientated, but the verses, it’s just full on 80’s style thrash but with that modern day heaviness. If ‘The Origin’ was one of the big moments, then this track is the best one on the album by far!

“Pure” closes the album, and it’s the longest track of the album at nearly 8 minutes. Starting off slow with some lead work over clean rhythm and clear bass, it slowly builds the mood and a sense of anticipation before it kicks in with a slow but stomping thrash groove. It powers on, occasionally lightening up to add some more range to the track with clean vocals and a clean guitar section here and there before picking up again. Near the 6 minute mark, it kicks in with a great lead section and some stunning rhythm and this leads the album to a close. A clean section with the lead over it brings the album to its final few measures of heavy grove before coming to a stop.

” Hyëna” is a solid album from the off. It’s got the attitude, aggression and heaviness which you expect from thrash, and the solid groove and powerful vocals top it off nicely. If this is the band’s first offering on a big label, expect bigger and better to come from them!

(7/10 Fraggle)