Cripper - _Antagonist_
(SAOL, 2012)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (5 out of 10)
By now, thrash metal's 21st century resurgence seems well beyond its prime. We look beyond our enthusiasm of 'just having it back' and gradually look with more discerning eyes at what's in front of us. This affinity for analysis and pickiness comes with the abundance of material. Ten years ago, when Destruction decided to reunite and Kreator came back with a bang from their sad case of duplicate personality, thrash fans around the globe rejoiced at the very notion. Of course I don't mean to imply that their comeback records were at all questionable; quite the contrary. At the same time, the idea of new bands coming up with fresh thrash was still a bit alien. Heck, at that time, Testament barely had the stones to get together and re-recorded some of their older material, while Exodus were still nowhere to be seen.

Forward a few years and suddenly a wave of retro-thrash took over the world to the point of saturation. And just like the first one, the Germans stepped up to the plate; though the English deserve some credit this time around. This brings me to the subject of this review: Cripper's third full-length, _Antagonist_. This quintet from Hannover presents some very honest and organic metal, and that grants them a tip of the proverbial hat. Yet I find myself facing a bit of difficulty as I imagine the band's future amidst the current state of genre saturation. These guys sound like they're enjoying what they're doing and I admire that, but unfortunately a lasting impression is never made. The reason for my trepidation is that _Antagonist_ doesn't offer much in the way of uniqueness. This puts Cripper at the risk of being classed in a similar manner to the likes of Evildead, Deathrow and Atrophy from the first wave.

Vocalist Britta Görtz is not the first young woman to enter these macho lands as a vocalist; fellow German thrashers Headshot also have a lady barking at the mic. Technically speaking, _Antagonist_ is mostly a standard meat-and-potatoes kind of thrash album. The drums thump continuously with fervor and passion, while the guitars chug away with a slightly trebly sound. The twelve tracks add up to forty six minutes, and they do have some clever transitions and subtle differences that tell them apart. But at the end of the day, the whole affair is just average. Technical abilities aside, _Antagonist_ doesn't really damage the scene or cause revulsion, but at the same time it doesn't stand out among the herd.


(article published 13/8/2012)

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