I will admit that Germany’s Cripper has not been on my radar over the past number of years. Not sure why I didn’t hear of them but its probably related to the bulk of their shows happening in Germany and not any North America touring that I can recall. Normally Norway is my prime European destination so I can understand why my ears about this band didn’t prick up until I saw their latest video posted on Metal Blade’s social media. These metal veterans who have altered their sound over the years have a new record dropping on today in North America entitled Follow Me: Kill! Ok, so follow me to this review…
The first four tracks on Follow Me: Kill! demonstrate the musicianship and diverse array of extreme influences this band from Hannover embraced for their new record. Honestly, these four songs alone make the record a “must buy.” The opener, “Pressure” grabs you and doesn’t let go with its unique lead work and riff after riff and hook after hook.
With Britta Gortz on vocals and the band’s German origin, immediate comparisons will be made to former Arch Enemy vocalist Angela Gossow. Look, that’s not a bad thing because Angela was incredible and took Arch Enemy to bold new heights, but fans should stop short of thinking that Gortz is a Gossow clone. There are clearly differences. Of course, the fact that the first two songs on Follow Me: Kill! sound very close to Arch Enemy in terms of phrasing, genre and layering is only going to intensify comparisons to the Swedish extreme icons. Now, I’ve already mentioned in my recent review of Arch Enemy’s latest record that I really love that band. I will go a step further and say that the metal listening community would benefit from more bands that embrace that type of sound and integrate that level of quality. So to be clear, my likening of Cripper to AE is meant to be a positive.
But honestly, to simply say Cripper is a lot like AE isn’t entirely accurate because there are many songs on the record that break rather significantly from that mold. “Running High” is a ballady, bluesy but heavy number that features some great bass from Lommer and some great clean singing by Gortz. Gortz has a deep, rich voice with a more than appropriate sustain and she makes full use of that ability here. f I had a complaint about this song it’s that it comes in about 3 minutes too long Sometimes less is more and an 8:45 song outside of black metal is a tough sell without a heck of a lot of time changes and surprise twists.
“Bleeding Red” is a bit of a slower, more blues-inspired cut. Not my favorite on the record but not bad either. I think it gets a bit overshadowed by the preceding tracks that set a very high bar. “Comatose,” the subsequent composition, takes the record in another turn with a hint of clean vocals and a change in tempo. The bridge in “Comatose” has some rich layering with the guitars and some pinch harmonics to give the listener some complexity. It’s a rather nice mix altogether and quickly became one of my favorites on the record. The last song on the record, “Menetekel” is another absolute winner. Some intense shredding from start to finish, cool stereo effects moving back and forth in your headphones and very raw vocals that much entirely well with the music. A great way to end the record!
What I find particularly interesting is that so many of the song titles will be instantly recognized by fans of 80’s and 90’s metal and pop radio. I mean “Into the Fire,” “Mother,” “Pressure,” “World Coming Down,” “Pretty Young Thing” (and these are not covers). These band members listened to an awful lot of American radio! If that was done on purpose – who knows – but I guess some American band at some point will record a song with a title of “99 LuftBalloons” that isn’t a cover. Maybe my friends in Canada, Hot Hot Heat will take this on. Anyway, Cripper’s latest is a welcome addition to the American metal music listening market – go get it!