Two songs from "Akelarre", the seventh studio album from thrash masters CRIMINAL originally formed in Chile and now based in the U.K. are available for free download via the band's Facebook page.
"Akelarre" is CRIMINAL's first album since the departure of lead guitarist and founding member Rodrigo Contreras and the subsequent addition of Basque guitar wizard Olmo Cascallar.
"Akelarre" is a word from the Basque language (Euskara) which is also widely used in most Spanish-speaking countries and translates to "witches' Sabbath."
"The title is not to be taken literally, we haven't turned into a black metal band," comments band leader Anton Reisenegger (vocals/guitars). "It refers to a gathering of the powerful to plot their evil agenda, which is also reflected by the cover artwork. Sort of like an updated version of 'War Pigs'."
The artwork was once again handled by Chilean drummer/tattooist/designer Fran Muoz. "We told him we wanted something different from the usual photoshopped covers," explains Reisenegger, "and he got it straight away. Actually, the first draft he sent us ended up being the final cover. That Soviet propaganda style looks killer and really stands out."
"Akelarre" was produced by bassist Dan Biggin at his HVR Studios in Suffolk, U.K. His approach to the recording process was to keep Pro Tools trickery to a minimum. "I wanted to make 'Akelarre' sound like a real band actually playing music, which seems to be a rarity these days," he says. "What you hear on the album are drum tracks as they were ACTUALLY played by the drummer instead of this fake polished over-sampled bullshit that has been sucking the life and reality out of a lot of metal albums for years because it's fashionable. Half these albums sound ridiculous when you hear the kick drum work and then you see the band live and the drummer can't even play the songs close to that. If the playing is great and it has feeling and attitude then it doesn't have to be mechanical, and if the songs are good enough then they stand up against anything else out there."
Musically, the band went back to basics. "There were lots of harmonies and guitar arrangements on our last album, and the first few songs we wrote were pretty much in the same vein. However, as the writing progressed, the songs started getting more and more simple and to the point, and the last couple we wrote almost have a hardcore vibe to them," comments Reisenegger. "The typical CRIMINAL riffs are still there, but it's all more stripped-down and in-your-face, which should work great live."
About new guitarist Olmo Cascallar's input on the album, Reisenegger states: "Rod is an incredible guitarist and you really got to have balls to try and fill his footsteps, but Olmo did a fantastic job. I don't know if he purposely tailored his solos to resemble Rod's style, but he managed to really fit in with our sound. He also wrote one full song and helped write and arrange most of the material on the album."
"Akelarre" track listing:
01. Order From Chaos (04:53)
02. Resistance Is Futile (04:40)
03. The Ghost We Summoned (04:03)
04. Akelarre (01:59)
05. State Of Siege (04:10)
06. Tyrannicide (04:21)
07. Feel The Void (04:40)
08. The Power Of The Dog (03:35)
09. Vows Of Silence (04:16)
10. La Santa Muerte (04:47)
"Akelarre" will be released on August 19 by Massacre Records.