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Cryptic Slaughter is a bit of an overlooked band. They played a very unique type of metal called crossover thrash, and they were very good at it. They were definitely one of the fastest bands in the L.A. metal scene and left every other band back in the dust. They are also one of the earliest bands to perfect the blast beat. Was Cryptic Slaughter an influence on Napalm Death? You bet!
The production is pretty good and helps the audibility of the band. The guitars are thrashy and punkish at the same time and are usually very fast, they're also pretty heavy. There's some guitar solos here but not really an abundance like on a thrash metal album. The drumming can be slower and rythmic when it has to be but it usually sounds like a machine gun at the speed that it's going. Bill Crooks is much more of a screamer than a singer, but his extreme vocals fit this type of music. His voice is quite screechy and hoarse and is not suitable for everyone, but those of you that don't mind that type of vocal style may like Bill Crooks' vocals, I personally like his vocals. He actually has some similarities to the singer for Jerry's Kids. The bass isn't very audible so I can't really talk about that. The overall sound here is pretty heavy.
Let's talk about the songs themselves. Most of the songs have similar song structures so I'll try my best to point out the distinguishable characteristics of the songs. There are some slower songs, but most of these songs are lighting fast with social/political messages. "Money Talks" is a good example of some very fast social/political metal, there are a few mid paced breakdowns thrown in though. "Could Be Worse", "All Wrong", and "Wake Up" are also good examples of this. "Freedom Of Expression" is a more mid paced song and the name of the song is exactly what the song is about, and it features a bluesy yet metallic guitar solo in the middle of the song. "Menace Of Mankind" features a similar solo. "Too Much, Too Little" has an odd intro and Bill even acknowledges it by saying "Psyche!" before the song becomes normal. Most of these songs are around a minute and a half to two minutes long so the album isn't too long. "American Heros" and "Could Be Worse" are the longest songs here and they're both closing in on four minutes long. "American Hero" actually has some of the slowest parts on the album, but it too has speedy parts as well.
This is a very good metal album but I wouldn't reccomend this to any metal fan. Some metalheads may find this too noisy and chaotic, but this guitar driven chaos is very influential stuff. But if you like extremely fast, politically charged metal then this is right up your alley. This here is some great metal.
I’m not a big crossover fan but I don’t dislike it especially when it’s violent as fuck, mixed with thrash metal and this is the case of Cryptic Slaughter. This band is too overlooked, compared to other groups like D.R.I. and so on. Their style is far more aggressive and brutal than the one by other groups in this field, with a plenty of thrash metal influences.
“Set Your Own Peace” reminds me the best S.O.D. for the raw up tempo and quite immediate mid paced, thrash riffs. The vocals are more punkish with screams and child tones. Well, actually there’s not a lot to say…this is a really violent piece of crossover/thrash. “Could Be Worse” is remarkable for the great stop and go and the out of the blue mid paced parts to break a bit the impact.
The drum work is very energetic, but surely not technical at all. The parts in up tempo are a sort of bass drum-snare drum hyper speed stomps. The production is quite good and raw but powerful enough for a band like this. The guitars distortion is not so metal because it’s not so powerful and electric but more raw and punk. The bass work is always quite good and it can be seen as something that stands out of the songs giving a more pulsating touch.
The guitars parts on “Freedom Of Expression” are hilarious, with a simple but nice solo. As usual the lyrics are about society and injustices and often you can hear some “Fuck You !!” or “Bullshits!!”…eh, quite funny. “Too Much, Too Little” is fucking brutal with semi blast beats, screamed, punk vocals and it’s a really mess with senseless solos too.
All in all, this is not for anyone but it's a quite good, influential, hyper violent crossover/thrash. A big influence for the first grind bands in those years.
As the Cro-Mags and D.R.I. were the first bands to introduce me to crossover, Cryptic Slaughter introduced me to blastbeats. And what unhinged madness it was for the mid-80s! Drummer Scott Peterson couldn't play worth a damn when he wasn't blasting, but the feeling was THERE. A sloppy, not-always-tight vibe permeates this album, but in a good way, as they always sound like they're about to go off of the tracks and trainwreck something terrible. The production only adds to the raw, punky ambience of this album--it sounds like it was recorded in a garage or hallway and carries an indefinable extra something.
The title track begins the album in snotty, angry fashion with an uptempo, punk-like unison riff that kicks into hyperdrive about a minute into the song and Bill Crooks' hoarse, ragged screaming really takes this over the edge. He was not a singer in even the remote sense; he simply screamed his head off about whatever was making him mad, and he had a lot on his mind, a scope of the lyrics reveals. Political and social matters galore--"Freedom of Speech?" will always be timely, especially Bill's defiant snarl of "Fuck you!" in the middle of this tune directed at the PMRC and their ilk.
Cryptic spend most of their time in warp speed kill mode and as long as they stay there they sound just fine. I mean, this was ridiculously fast for the time! But again, the drumming really suffers once they slow down--he sounds like he picked up the drums to join the band and had not been playing very long before the recording session. That deletes points more than anything else. Otherwise, this is a mighty potent effort that stands as their finest moment in my universe. Fuelled by equal amounts caffeine, booze, and youthful anger at the world, all hail Cryptic as the pioneers that they were! Every time a band plays a blastbeat, they pay tribute to Cryptic Slaughter (as well as Repulsion) whether they realize it or not.