Cripple Bastards - _Almost Human_
(Obscene, 2001)
Cripple Bastards - _Misantropo a Senso Unico_
(Deaf American, 2001)
by: Paul Schwarz (8.5 / 9 out of 10)
I can't decide which of these two releases to recommend to a first-time Cripple Bastards listener. _Misantropo a Senso Unico_, their latest album -- and surely their finest -- is a face-ripping slice of grind/hardcore fury. Graced with a raw but not poor production, it has just the right amount of variation and tempo shifting to not descend into monotony, yet has the speed and intensity to please even the most devoted grind heads. Vocal harshness and blast-beating tendencies are what characterise _MaSU_ as a grind album -- and one of the first order for lovers of the likes of late-Eighties Napalm Death or Repulsion -- but a huge part of the album is very hardcore, and hardcore-allergic metallers (fools that you are!) may find _MaSU_ doesn't suit their tastes. Ravenous / SOD / Brutal Truth (RIP) / Hemlock / ex-Anthrax / Nuclear Assault (RIP) bassist Dan Lilker says that _MaSU_ is "exquisitely insane hardcore grind that reminds me of why I got into all this shit back in the late Eighties", and if that doesn't peak your interest, and the fact that _MaSU_ is on Rich Hoak's Deaf American label didn't either, you might want to do some background listening before you try out _MaSU_. _MaSU_ is a single recording, with a single sound and style. These reasons are one factor of why _Almost Human_ may better suit you if you're a first-time CB listener. For one, it is nearly twice as long, clocking in at nearly an hour. _MaSU_ only totals 33 minutes, which includes a re-recording of CB's 1993, 94 song demo -- each song consisting of one lyrical line, almost invariably backed by a blastbeat. Without the demo re-recording, _MaSU_ is only 26 minutes. _AH_ is Obscene Production's compiling of all Cripple Bastards' studio works from 1997-1999 (excluding _MaSU_ of course_) with 19 live tracks recorded in Utrecht/Holland at the "A.C.U." Club in 2000 added to bring the track total to 50. The 31 non-live tracks are taken from seven different sessions, and four different line-ups of the band over a period of a few years. Correspondingly, there is quite some variation in sound and even style on offer. In the context of extreme music as a whole of course, _AH_ isn't very varied, but in its own context (of a single grind/death/hardcore band) it covers a range of styles and moulds. It all sounds like one band, but _AH_ sees CB expressing themselves through a variety of different productions and in a variety of styles. _AH_'s appeal is thus broader, in the sense that some part of it will be enjoyed by more grind/death listeners than will enjoy _MaSU_. However, on the other hand the more set-in-one-style among you extreme music listeners will probably not like all _AH_'s different expressions of violent rage. For fans -- either long-standing or those converted by _MaSU_ -- _AH_ is a perfect complement to CB's latest album. It collects many cool 7"s, two interesting Husker Du covers, and offers some damn decent live tracks into the bargain. _MaSU_ is sung entirely in Italian, but includes translated lyrics to every song except the one-line evacuations of the 94 song demo re-recording. Some of _AH_'s tracks, mostly the later ones, are in Italian. These are all included and translated in the booklet and lyrics to almost all the other songs (excluding the live tracks) are also included -- CB promise in the booklet that the missing lyrics will soon be posted on their website. Also in _AH_'s booklet are pictures of the covers to all the relevant 7"s, a variety of reproduced posters and fliers, a one-page reproduction of the advertisement for the Holland show from which the live tracks are taken, info about the band's various line-up changes -- Guilo the Bastard is the only truly permanent member -- and even commentaries to a few of the songs. There is more to Cripple Bastards than simply an excellent grind/hardcore band. CB obviously think a lot (or at least Guilo does), and some of their lyrics make for interesting reading, while the commentaries in _AH_ are particularly venomous and thought-provoking when talking about such things as the PC attitudes of some current hardcore scenes in contrast to how punk/hardcore expressed itself in other eras. Quite simply, there's more to either of these releases than just music -- especially _AH_ -- and they are both all the better and all the more recommended for it. I'd recommend picking up both these releases and immersing yourself in Cripple Bastards today.


(article published 12/8/2001)

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