THE GRIM TOWER REVIEWS: Criminal Element – Criminal Crime Time (2015)

Criminal Element - Criminal Crime Time (2015) copy

Criminal Element – Criminal Crime Time (2015) – Coming off the heels of their Maiden Brooklyn EP, Criminal Element are back with their third full-length in Criminal Crime Time. Just in case you’re not aware of the band (like me) they’re actually a side project of sorts from members of Suffocation who were also in Dying Fetus at the time of the band’s conception. And apparently, someone must really fucking hate these guys, as their last record Modus Operandi received a 25/100 onMetal Archives.

Now I wouldn’t say that Criminal Crime Time is a bad album, as it contains a lot of thrash and death metal influence in addition to some great solo moments and slightly experimental sections, but the vocals leave something to be desired. Some people might like the approach taken here, but it feels like a garbage-mouthed vocal with a dumpster that’s only about half full (or half empty, depending on how you view your garbage dumpster).

There are some tracks where more gravel is utilized though, like on  “The Bitch Set Me Up 2:12.” I guess I can see how the rather hard to discern leads (except for a masterpiece of prog in “Dissociative 4:05“) can throw people off a bit, especially when there’s not a whole lot of meat to chew on outside of those subtle moments of grandeur which appear in random spots throughout the album. But as I mentioned earlier, there are some moments of experimentation to be found here as the filtered vocals and watery leads of “Falling Down 4:50” showcase rather strongly.

These unexpectedly slow leads definitely change the entire pace of the album while still offering up a good bludgeoning during the track’s more explosive parts, as well as a major explosion of death metal fury towards the end. It’s not a very long album and is quite frankly full of hits and misses. But it’s definitely better than the 25/100 (or 2.5/10 here on the Tower) that their last album received (which actually makes me curious to hear it, in all honesty) and I’d consider it relatively decent.

There’s some room for improvement I think, but the vocals are still tough for me to get around. They’ll have to grow on me. I do feel that it’s a bit unfair to judge it on the vocals alone however, and I think that it’s still worth a listen to those who have never heard of these guys before. My main problem with Criminal Crime Time is that it sounds like a band who’s just a little bit confused.

There are obvious sections of death and thrash and all sorts of other things, but nothing really seems to fully gel together the way that it should and it’s all over far too quickly. It’s definitely a start, but they started the band a rather long time ago so I’m not exactly sure as to what is going on here. I can’t quite classify them, which I’ve always felt was a good thing and it feels like they’re going in the right direction, even though it seems a little cloudy.

These guys kill in Suffocation, but I feel that something is a bit off in this outfit. I just can’t put my finger on it. Regardless of my dilemma, I still think you should give it a spin and let me know what you think. Maybe I’m not the intended audience, so my score won’t match your own; but I still think that there are some intriguing things about the record and I’d definitely want you to hear it for those things at least. In any case, it’s not your average metal record and that I feel is in itself, refreshing.

(8 Tracks, 30:00)

6.5/10 

6.5

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