You can’t beat a good old bit of frash metal, and Cripper deliver it in spades.
Marrying traditional values to modern-day techniques this is a band that should come with a government health warning because they’re so addictive.
On the face of it you have a standard two guitar five piece band who play loud and fast. Nothing unusual there. What makes Cripper so damn good is how they play. Their music is razor-sharp with a distinct line drawn between instruments, something that often doesn’t happen with this sort of configuration. Also up front there’s a true powerhouse on the mic in the form of Britta Gortz who has a similar rasping delivery as Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe but with the added bonus of being able to shift into a wonderfully vitriolic spoken word when it’s called for. This is a front woman with tonsils of granite.
One of the things that becomes clear about Cripper is that although they lean heavily in the direction of tech metal they don’t take it to the point where everything becomes an exercise in slide rule precision, in other words they are a tech band that do it right, they have soul too. It might be made of concrete but it’s in there and it makes songs such as Animated Flesh flow in an organic way. Here we get perfect pounding rhythms, the kind circle pits happen spontaneously to and overlayed with tandem guitars that purr like big cats. In Sci-Fi terms Cripper is more Moya than star destroyer and Gortz is more River Tam than T101.
The thing with Hyena is that the music is very consistent right throughout but at a cost. Songs are quite interchangeable with several tracks having a similar feel, sometimes a bit too similar. If you get into this album then you’ll like all of it whereas those who like a bit of variation might consider it, even with its startlingly tight musicianship, a bit flat. With Tourniquet leading the way in terms of straying outside of safe territory and elevating itself to top trump as a result it would have been nice to hear something slower, or a clean vocal thrown in.
That said this is still a record I would recommend you buy because when you go out and spend hard-earned cash you want something you’ll want to listen to more than a couple of times. Cripper may like treading down a narrow path but the direction they’re going in is undoubtedly the right one. A little more than solid and workmanlike Hyena touches on just how much potential this German five-piece have to offer. With live performances already gaining them a reputation as ones to watch and with the band being relatively young we could be seeing the birth of the next Carcass, and that’s a band that haven’t done too badly for themselves.
Cripper have taken their nation’s aptitude for technical excellence and set it to music.