Album Review: CRETIN Stranger
Writing grindcore songs is hard. Writing good grindcore songs is even harder. In lieu of the saturation of nearly everything, it's important to recognize and hold onto the bands that really know what they're doing and how to do it.
Cretin is a band that hasn't done much in its existence. Though collectively the band has actually existed about seventeen years for when activity is accounted for, yet they have less releases than Tool. However, long silences between full-lengths (in this case eight years) doesn't mean that the band's edge has dulled. Stranger, the long awaited follow-up to Freakery, has finally dropped on Relapse.
For all the weirdness that was Freakery, know that Stranger draws more down that path. Cretin make themselves no, well, stranger to the weird, dark and even humorous. It's easy for the song titles to cause an eyebrow to twitch or crook. Pieces like “Sandwich for the Attic Angel,” “How to Wreck Your Life in Three Days” or “Mr. Frye, the Janitor Guy” are bound to make you look twice. In part, the weirdness, as grindcore diehards will know, is where Cretin shine. Their approach is certainly something to write home about. Not content with being the ultimate marriage of Napalm Death, Repulsion with splashes of Rotten Sound, the band is always a little off-putting, but in the best possible way.
Cretin are in every sense of the words “old school.” They have, and continue to, sound like something straight out of 90s grindcore, which is fitting concerning their assembly. And with Stranger they continue to carry that torch. Not melding into the more modern sounds of, say, Insect Warfare, Stranger is an album that sticks with its roots. Songs are punchy as hell. Enter tracks like the aforementioned “Mr. Frye, the Janitor Guy,” that kick up some crucial and heavy riffage. Complimented by the gruff assault of guitarist/lead vocals/lyricist Marissa Martinez, Cretin continues to crank up the viciousness.
There is little time, perhaps even little room, for slower sections on Stranger. This isn't an album that messes around with mood unless it's trying to dance circles around your head. This isn't a relenting album or something that takes breaks to boil mood. Stranger is, for all intensive purposes, an album that kicks forth without looking back. It's something that topples bricks and laughs as it does so with staggering hostility. While the album breaks to punch in Elizabeth Schall's solos, it never stops itself from melting your skin or shredding.
If you're salivating for some new grindcore while waiting for the next Napalm Death to drop, you couldn't do any better than Stranger. The PhD level approach is downright bombastic and old school as hell. Those that have wondered what an exact marriage between Repulsion and Napalm Death would be like needn't look any further. Stranger packs plenty of thrash, blasts, volume, and twisting weirdness. Hell, there's even a track about the album Freakery that is both amusing and interesting to read. If you love grindcore you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not checking out Cretin's Stranger. It is, as advertised, stranger. And it's also a statement that Cretin, even thought they release albums only occasionally, are eons above your typical grindcore band. Essential to say the least.
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