The last time CRIMINAL surfaced on U.S. shores (and the only time I've heard them before this) was on 1999's "Dead Soul", a solid if rather derivative slab of South American metal with a good bit of SEPULTURA influence. The good news was, it was more "Chaos A.D". and "Arise" (though simplified considerably) than played-out "Roots" nu-metal worship. The bad news? Repeated listens left little impression, and the record gathered dust on the shelves.Perhaps this is why "Sicario", like 2001's "Cancer" and 2004's "No Gods No Masters", was not released in the States, but left to the much more forgiving European continent. "Sicario" finds CRIMINAL peddling the same basically charismatic metal as before, influenced by thrash and inflected with mainman Anton Reisenegger's accented vocals. CRIMINAL are no newcomers — their thrash influences run back to the classic era (listen to "Root of All Evil" — substitute a Germanic shriek for Reisenegger's hoarser bark, and you'd have a KREATOR single, with some CARCASS-style melodies in the solo). When "Sicario" is at its most intense, as on "Time Bomb" or the punishing "Shot in the Face", it's easier to overlook the band's basic lack of personality. But the title track sounds like a SEPULTURA throwaway, while "Preacher of Hate" and "From the Ashes" are full of generic riffs, grooves that just don't grab ya. Reisenegger's monotone vocals and plodding vocal patterns do little to distinguish songs, even when he switches languages on "Por la Fuerza de la Razon", one of the album's most bland moments. Nothing here is terrible, but again, it's hard to imagine remembering too much of this six months from now, or feeling the urge to pull it back out for another listen. Bottom line: basically decent, strangely dated-sounding third-tier thrash with a few enjoyable moments that rise above the mundane.
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