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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.