My life changed recently. My academic career is behind me and I’m proud to say that I’m now a big boy with a real job. Responsibilities and adulthood beckon. A side effect of this is that I now have far less free time to explore new music constantly. The past few weeks have seen my standards narrow; I’ll only grant more than a few minutes to albums immediately piquing my interest and I’ll only buy those which are great. This differs somewhat for my AMG reviews as it’s fair to frequent an album on which we’re giving an opinion. Enter Cripper and their fifth full-length, Follow Me: Kill!. Having now committed significant attention to it, I’ve reached the conclusion that you shouldn’t.
Kill! is most largely occupied by thrash influences but splices in death growls, hardcore sneers and the occasional slower, dirgier riff. The staccato style of djent also features, particularly in the introductory riffs to a number of tracks. The two bands I hear most are Kreator and Meshuggah, rendering it established in the modern day but definitely facing backwards. It’s immediately apparent that Cripper are led from the front by their riffs. They’re the sort of band to live or die by this quality, risking all success on their effective execution. There’s nowhere to hide for these riffs as they lead the mix and there’s no effort made to succeed via another route. A few good ones are knocking about on Kill!, particularly in the aforementioned djenty openings. “Into the Fire” sprints from the gates with a very obZen-style lead, before a galloping, German thrash lick kicks your ass around the 3-minute mark. “Pretty Young Thing” has more of groove metal swagger too, strutting its stuff similarly to Pantera.
Alas, I must now report that Cripper also dies by the riff. The record chugs. It bangs. It grooves. It makes all sorts of appropriate guitar noises. But the upshot is that none of the remainder beyond the aforementioned examples stick, even remotely. I switch off almost immediately after hitting play. Picking apart the album, riff by riff, may suggest it’s better than it is but simple continuity ruins any positive reaction I may briefly enjoy after unpausing a listen. Kill! is incredibly generic and incredibly forgettable. My most basic marker of quality when assessing an album, an assessment I consider long before a score, is whether I’m consistently engaged. I find here that I’m consistently disengaged. Complete disinterest is almost worst than active disdain and this exemplifies that.
The secondary, but unarguably significant, characteristics which also dictate the quality of a thrash release are directness, speed and brevity. The likes of Vektor may somehow attain greatness with lengthy thrash operas but that is exceptional; generally, shorter is better. From this year alone, Power Trip and Hellripper demonstrate this, running 33 and 27 minutes respectively. They charge in, thrash your tits off, then fuck off again. Kill!, by contrast, runs for 57 long, boring minutes. Many track could be cut and while the remaining quality still isn’t high, there could at least have been impact through immediacy. “Shoot or Get Shot” and “Bleeding Red” are particularly poor, offering a mid-album trench through which perseverance is mightily tough. Even the album’s zenith on “Into the Fire” is undermined by the approximate 27 chorus repetitions. That it’s towards the beginning also questions the purpose of the ensuing 47 minutes.
It scarcely requires comment but the DR score recorded below further signifies a horrendously brick-walled master. Kill! is truly tough to stomach for significant periods given its loudness, even beyond simple boredom. If it seems as if I’m consummately dumping on Cripper it’s because there really aren’t any redeeming qualities. The few good riffs are still average compared with the best thrash from this year while the remainder instigated this rant. My new-found appreciation for free time ensures that I’ll never listen to this again and I thoroughly recommend that you don’t listen at all.