While most bands try to follow their debut album as quickly as possible, Californian grinders Cretin waited a full eight years to release their second opus, with the result being issued via Relapse Records at the end of last year. But, then, these Santa Cruzers seem to like to take their time about things – or, is it, as bassist Matt Widener told PM when it was announced that the band were returning to the studio (around about this time last year), that they are, indeed, “easily distracted”? The band actually trace their history back more than 20 years, having first been formed in 1992, then going on a lengthy hiatus before re-emerging in 2003 (following drummer Col Jones’ departure from Exhumed)… but, even then, it took another three years for them to record and release their first album.
In the interim, the band have perhaps become better known because of guitarist/vocalist Marissa Martinez “coming out” in 2008 as a transgender woman, after a lifetime of gender identity conflict. This is an issue which isn’t really here nor there as far as reviewing the band’s music is concerned – although, it does go some way towards explaining her gruff and somewhat naturally-masculine sounding vocal delivery.
Musically, Cretin make their intentions clear right from the very first opening chord and drum beat of ‘It’ – and that is to play old-school no-bullshit grindcore and death metal the way they should be played: with honesty, integrity, inherent passion and belief in what they are doing, mixed with pure, raw aggression… very much in the vein of Autopsy, early Napalm Death and, indeed, Exhumed!
From the outset, the pace is relentless and unremitting: the first half a dozen or so tracks fly by in a flurry of muscle-tearing blastbeats – Jones’ speed on ‘The Beast And The Bucket’, for example, is fiercesome, yet its precision is so accurate – and faster than the speed of light riffs. Widener’s bass work is also precise while uncompromisingly intense. Martinez’ deep, throaty growls add to the underlying feeling of menace lurking just behind the speaker grilles, while the guitars of both the frontwoman and Elizabeth Schall grunt and intertwine to produce a constant barrage of downtuned mayhem. And, if anything, the second half is even more frenetic, especially in the inducement to neck-snapping.
Of course, lyrically, there are liberal doses of humour (‘We Live In A Cave’, for example), which is naturally used to deliver an underlying message, and elements of gore (‘Mr Frye, The Janitor Guy’ and ‘Freakery’ both come with warnings attached in relation to radio play). BUt, it’s the sheer pace and energy of the performances that really embrace you and then set you free to risk life and limb celebrating the pure enervation spilling forth from the speakers: even in the confines of the small, dark room that passes for PM’s Belfast “office”, the urge to get up and jump around, and find something to jump off, was almost irresistable!
If you like your metal fast and furious, with genuine 100% passion and with real grind and grit to it, then this definitely is the album for you \m/
It / Ghost Of Hair And Teeth / The Beast And The Drowning Bucket / Kings Of The Rail / We Live In A Cave / Sandwich For The Attic Angel / Stranger / Mr Frye, The Janitor Guy / Mary Is Coming / Honey And Venom / Freakery / They Buried The Lunchbox / Husband / How To Wreck Your Life In Three Days
Recommended listening: ‘The Beast And The Drowning Bucket’.
‘Stranger’ is out now on Relapse Records.