CRIMINAL - "DEAD SOUL" (METAL BLADE)
If you put Vincent Wojno at the mixing panel, you get a CD that sounds like it ought to, with heavy drums and a wall of guitars. If you add a Chilean band with a lot of repressed anger and a great amount of dedication, you get Criminal's second album, "Dead Soul" (this album has in fact been available in their home country for the past two years, but only now has it seen a world-wide release through Metal Blade).
"Dead Soul" at times sounds a bit like Machinehead (the song "Terror") or like Sepultura without the tribal influences. With regularity, however, drummer Jimmy Ponce cranks up the speed quite a bit, at other times slowing down to create sections with more of a groove.
Judging from some of the song titles, life in Chile hasn't been a lot of fun. "Terror", "Life is Agony", "Victimized"... Like vocalist/guitarist Andreas Reisenegger says, "Extreme music for extreme times". It's good that bands like Criminal now get a chance, something that would have been impossible a decade ago.
The bottom line is, no matter how much work and dedication has been put in, "Dead Soul" has few distinguishing characteristics. It is well-produced, but somehow quite a few of the songs sound a tad alike, with the exception of tracks like "Victimized" and "Guilt". There is just so much good stuff around these days...I hope Criminal will get the chance they deserve.
Written March 1999
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