When “Spain” and “thrash” are mentioned in the same breath, I immediately think of Angelus Apatrida. While they kind of lost me with their newer stuff, their first two albums (especially sophomore release, Give ‘Em War) are essentials. The mold is a familiar one for fans of Testament, Death Angel, Exodus, and Megadeth, but those first two albums deliver. However, a couple weeks ago my definition of Spanish thrash metal changed forever when Crisix appeared in my inbox. With a name like Crisix (that at first looked like the spelling of my son’s favorite cereal), it’s no surprise that thrash is their game and, boy, do they know how to play it. Making a career based off impressive six-string theatrics, white-knuckle riffs, and movie-based lyrics, these Spanish metallers remind everyone that Spain’s thrash scene doesn’t exclusively consist of Angelus Apatrida and Aggression. Crisix‘s newest outing, From Blue to Black, is filled with some of the band’s best gang-shouting choruses, riffs, and some of the most absurd shit they have ever recorded.
Though Crisix have a slightly different approach than Angelus Apatrida, these two bands have one thing in common: their albums are too fucking long. An hour of thrash is too much.1 Crisix‘s debut, The Menace, may have been jam-packed with juicy riffs and hilarious themes (that include The Mask-based “Brutal Gadget”), but the barrage and length of the album are simply exhausting. Sophomore platter Rise… Then Rest, on the other hand, hacked off fifteen minutes, concentrating the band’s aggression while adding melodic touches. The album is good and the opening “In Your Fuckin’ Face!” of “I.Y.F.F.” is one of my favorite thrash moments ever. But can Crisix top that? Well, buckle up, buttercup. It’s time for a little stroll through the crushing, juvenile metropolis of Crisix‘s pyscho world.
While the concision of Rise… Then Rest did wonders for the band, From Blue to Black goes even further; cutting deeper into the fluff and delivering a neat seven-track, thirty-five minute package of carefully calculated punches. “Conspiranoia” charges out of the gates, bashing on your brains and tantalizing your eardrums with lightning-quick guitar licks and sprocket-cracking pedal work. But “Conspiranoia” is only the beginning. Crushers like the in-your-face “G.M.M. (The Great Metal Motherfucker)” and the groovy “Five as One” are even better. “G.M.M.” incorporates stop-start chugs and blast-beats so massive they could decimate entire neighborhoods, while “Five as One,” is straight-forward cruiser with gigantic bite and punch that is ever exaggerated by the alternating vocal approaches from guest vocalists, Javier Cardoso (Vita Imana), Guillermo Izquierdo (Angelus Apatrida), and Juan Aceña (Soziedad Alkoholika).
“Journey through the Fire” tugs on my nostalgic heartstrings with its use of “fire” in the title and its classic ’80s metal attitude. It is the perfect playground for the guitars and drums show off; serving up well-executed blast beats and chunky stop-start riffs that come at you like Wez’s head-butts. Conversely, Crisix drops some At the Gates-inspired melodic tidbits in the Terminator 2-themed “T-Terror Era” and the album’s title track. The Slaughter of the Soul-era riffage and attitude inevitably gives Julián Baz’s shrieks that Tomas Lindberg-like character. But “The Fallen” takes these emotional atmospheres to the extreme, dragging the listener through a roller coaster of melodic trash, powerful choruses, and a gorgeous clean-guitar outro that takes From Blue to Black out in a big way.
My only real complaint with From Blue to Black is the production. The album actually clips so badly that it bricks up the listener faster than Poe can mortar up a cat. However, the fun factor of tracks like “Crisix Psycho World” is enough to stave off disappointment in the mastering job. Seriously, one listen to that song and you’ll be in line at your local coffee shop singing, “shit, fuck, shit, fuck” like a middle-aged metalhead who just discovered Swashbuckle. I may still enjoy the music of Angelus Apatrida, but Crisix will undoubtedly be the “other band” I think of when someone says “Spanish thrash.”
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3