HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Criminal - Sicario
(Metal Blade)

Relocating to the UK from their native Chile, Criminal also recently got closer to their original lineup (only the drummer remains from the "Criminal UK" configuration). But the mandate hasn't changed - Criminal still play a cogent, accessible death metal somewhat akin to God Dethroned and at times, Amon Amarth (see 'The Root Of All Evil') or to keep it sub-equatorial, Krisiun and heavier Seps or Soulfly. Produced capably but unremarkably (i.e. nothing sticks out - efficient would be the word) by Andy Classen, Sicario headbangs and grooves more often than most bands dare to, Criminal keeping at a distance but still within sight, an Unleashed/Six Feet Under vibe throughout these stripped-down booze-imbibing slammers. Nice twin lead touches spice the proceedings, but it's the band's love of a no nonsense mid-paced grind that makes this worthy of repeat gunplay.
Rating 7.5

American Dog - Foamin' At The Mouth Live

It's a bit painful for me reviewing this corkscrew of a screwfest, 'cos I'm still hungover from seeing the guys live whatever the hell it was, four years ago or so. As I've said before, you'll never hear a three-piece rock band more in sonic synch with each other. The "kings of redneck metal" rip up a stage like you wouldn't believe, as these 14 tracks will attest. Cool concept: get a bunch of friends (a lot of them) and beer, bring 'em to the studio and blaze through your set, anthems like 'Shitkicker' becoming impossibly more ferocious, with Michael Hannon's boozy voice sounding vicious and ragged, 'Blame It On The Booze' bringing to full flare Steve Theado's rich and raw tone, his guitar and his guitar playing and his writing on guitar all reminding you of that excitement you felt when you first heard Let There Be Rock, although if a subtle point might be attempted, somehow, even on a damn live album, he's uncannily picked up all the best frequencies and auras and tones from those classic late '70s AC/DC albums as well as from the last three - weird. And wonderful. Back on drums, veteran with depth Keith Pickens holds things steady, as does Hannon who plays Roger Glover's "teenage eighth notes" like none other. Man, and his voice... hard to believe this isn't fixed up a lot, because he's considerably spot-on, the cover of Motorhead's 'Bomber' being a good example of the band's deft control under extreme heat. The usual complaints apply however: a) it's just a live album and b) trios have bad drop-outs come solo time.
Rating 8

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