Criminal - No Gods No Masters
Metal Blade
Thrash Metal
11 songs (39:53)
Release year: 2004
Criminal, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Aleksie
Criminal is thrashing unit hailing from Santiago, Chile and No Gods No Masters is their third release. As a thrash band from South America, it is hard for me to avoid comparisons with Sepultura, but Criminal has a very potent mix of their own that distinguishes itself pretty well out of the grey mass.

The album begins with squealing feedback and frantic blast beating, after which very Slayerish riffs take over. The problem is that while brutal, the riffs are very mild in memorability right off the bat. Singer/guitarist Anton Reisenegger (ex-Pentagram) sounds very much like a bit more high-pitched Max Cavalera, complete with the funny latinoish pronounciation. His voice is very adequate, but it lacks some of the intensity and power of the Arayas and Petrozzas out there. After the first two minutes I was almost ready to throw Criminal into the overpopulated pile of thrashers that are ok, but have nothing really special in them. But then the small details kick in. Criminal incorporates keyboards to their slaughtering every here and there, bringing a very refreshing touch to generic thrash grinding. The opener Aberration and Downfall are just a couple of songs that use keyboards to create very colourful background amidst the tempo-changing riffs, even bringing Dream Theaterish hights to the atmosphere. Consumed and Deconstruction (in no way related to the Nevermore song with same title) are nice double-bass-powered thrashers that even have some of that lethal Pantera-like groove in them. But Zac O'Neil could use a lesson from the Vinnie Paul/Dave McClain school of playing with style. The double-basses and blast beats are just too often here for my tastes. O´Neil is a very talented skinsman, but he could use a bit more variation. Sure there are slower parts and pure beat-rhythms too, but the over-zealous blast beats are the ones that really catch my ear in a bad way. If you like em, you´ll love the drumming here. Thankfully the riffs become more memorable and intense after the album has gone half way through. Violent Change and Dark Half are nice Kreator-reminding grind machines that have some modern touches as well, evoking Machine Head from time to time.

Lead guitarist Rodrigo Contreras throws in some nice melodic and technical solos amidst the storm of riffs swirling through the whole record. The biggest problem here is the uneven material. Especially the riffs are very mixed, with some being awesome and some being completely stale. The purpose of the short instrumental Tidal Wave misses me totally, its just taking idle space here. Luckily the brutality receives much color with the keyboards, which along with the generally good songs help Criminal stand head and shoulders above the simple Slayer/Sepultura copycats. The production is very clear and top notch, which doesn´t take an inch from the crushing power of the good moments away. No reason to bitch on the sounds. With a little more powerful vocals and even more diversity, this could have been a killer. I will still recommend this to any fan of thrash and brutal music in general.

Killing Songs :
Aberration, Consumed, Deconstruction, Violent Change, Downfall & Dark Half
Aleksie quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Criminal that we have reviewed:
Criminal - White Hell reviewed by Thomas and quoted 72 / 100
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