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Condition Critical: Operational Hazard

Normally, albums don't just fall into my hands—but this one did. Here's the story: I was waiting outside of a local venue so I could interview Tuomas Holopainen. While waiting for Tuomas and the rest of Nightwish to finish up their soundcheck and move on to other things (like interviews), I struck up a conversation with Shawn Scarano, the owner and president of Burned by God Records. Shawn was there because he sometimes agrees to drive tour buses—for this tour, he was making sure that the members of Delain stayed on schedule as they made their way around various parts of the United States. Shawn and I chatted for quite a while, mostly about music but also about new and upcoming bands. When he told me that he might want to get my opinion on a couple releases, I was interested.

I should confess that it's always a little nerve wracking when someone hands me music like that; don't get me wrong, I love discovering new bands, but I sometimes worry that, if asked to write a review, I'll have to post something negative when I'd rather be positive. As it happens, I had nothing to worry about with this one from Condition Critical. If I can get more albums like this, I'll gladly keep listening.

For those who have read some of my reviews, you probably already know that I love thrash metal. I grew up with it and I never get tired of it. I can still remember the first time I heard the raw energy of this style, the speed and power of it, not to mention the ways it drew on punk rock to liven things up. As I listened to Condition Critical, I was taken right back to those wonderful days of tape trading, slam dancing, and aggressive, powerful, thrash. This album is old-school, but it isn't just another throwback. Think of it as a love letter to thrash itself, a musical offering that delivers nothing but speed and skill. All the elements are here—the fast drums, the blistering guitar leads, the thick and solid bass, and the singing style of good thrash.

The best tracks on this album are "Parasitic Torment," "Morning Sickness," "Gravitational Dismemberment," and "Surgical Malpractice." Honestly, I could list others, but I don't want to just type out the whole track listing here. These are just the tracks that stood out to me the most, the ones that I will most likely listen to again and again. I especially recommend "Gravitational Dismemberment," one of the best tracks and also the one with one of the funniest titles.

Although I could easily recommend this album based on the music alone, I don't want to overlook the chance to talk about the album cover. A nightmare version of Rembrandt's Anatomy Lesson, the cover shows a male and female creature operating on a man who is not only conscious but also in considerable pain. It's a gruesome scene, reminiscent of the raw intensity we've seen on other thrash albums. Even better, the art was done by none other than Ed Repka, the legendary cover artist.

I've given you plenty of reasons to check this album out. Now it's your turn to go and check it out. This is classic, old-school, thrash.

Track Listing:
1. Random Acts of Killing
2. Parasitic Torment
3. Morning Sickness
4. Sector 16
5. Shock Therapy
6. Gravitational Dismemberment
7. Surgical Malpractice
8. Dr. Criti-Kill

Added: June 18th 2015
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2119
Language: english

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