Cripper – Hyëna (Metal Blade)Wednesday, 29th October 2014
The public can’t get enough of that steady juggernaut known as thrash metal. Apparently the industry is aware not only of the new breed capturing the teen and twenty-something generation, but also plucking a lot of veterans or second tier acts that plug along waiting for the chance to expose their style through larger label/distribution channels. Hannover, Germany’s Cripper would be one of those slowly evolving bands, releasing 3 albums since their arrival in 2005 either independently or through the smaller SAOL (Service for Artist Owned Labels) means. Their fourth album Hyëna provides the quintet a great opportunity to expose more people to the primitive roots of the genre, while also adding a little spark in terms of aggression and groove elements.
When it comes to guitar riffing and dynamic interplay, guitarists Christian Bröhenhorst and Jonathan Stenger slice and dice at varying mid-tempo to slightly faster picking speeds – often working off time to the drumming for mood enhancement, most prevalent on the caustic highlight “7 Inch”. Cripper can occasional throw down that Sabbath meets Metallica down tuned groove that along with Dennis Weber’s slower double bass rolls gives “Animated Flesh” an impressive hook that can cause massive carnage in pits. And you know you aren’t dealing in normal American thrash through the song title “Bloodshot Monkey Eye”- is it a condition or caused by a wild night on the town?
Female singer Britta Görtz sounds more like her German male thrash counterparts such as Schmier or Tom Angelripper than anything melodic or operatic – and that’s an asset to their street level, blue collar approach. Be it something more quick hitting/semi-modern like “Tourniquet” or standard, heads down triplet thick riff gallop such as “Patterns in the Sky”, she will scare many and elicit much praise from the underground for her throat ripping screams, growls, and relatively clear enunciation during her rapid fire word duties.
Overall Cripper has much appeal for those who enjoy Holy Moses and possibly Carnal Forge in terms of intertwining thrash plus powerful, groove parts but not being blatant in a Pantera worship way. Everything from the circus/nurse rhyme-oriented riffs and doomier bends for the 7:49 closer “Pure” tells you that these German have their heads and hearts in a true place, so this is a release for those deep into the genre. Besides, who needs another Exodus/Testament wannabe when there are other avenues to explore?