Eight years ago Cretin made a big splash with the release of their debut album Freakery, but eight years in the world of metal seems like an ice age, and it’s a long time in the lives of human beings, too. As good as Freakery was, trying to predict what this band would accomplish with their new album Stranger would have been a fool’s errand. But there’s no more need for guessing games — Stranger is on the verge of being released, and you’re about to get the chance to hear it from start to finish.
Spoiler alert: it’s really, really good. It might be the best grind album of the year. It’s certainly one of the best metal albums of 2014. Now augmented by the addition of guitarist Elizabeth Schall (Dreaming Dead), Cretin are once again a force to be reckoned with.
For those of you who think of short bursts of unrefined, monochromatic violence when you hear the word “grind”, think again. Stranger is full loaded with explosive energy, but it’s also fully loaded with killer riffs, compulsive grooves, rhythms that change on a dime, and plenty of surprises (my favorites pop up in “Ghost of Teeth and Hair”, but I’m not going to spoil them for you). It’s heavy as hell, and catchy as hell, too.
Depending on where you find yourself on the album, or even within individual songs, the music gallops, it grinds, it jackhammers, it blasts, it chugs like a freight train and romps like a drunken punk. Guitar solos spit at you like flamethrower bursts. Unexpected melodic leads surface and are then overwhelmed. As a whole, Stranger is a highly effective adrenaline-delivery mechanism, one that’s dynamic in every sense of the word. Listening to it is a red-hot blast.
You can hear some of the lyrics quite clearly, despite the harsh extremity of Marissa Martinez’ throaty, gruesome vocal stylings. But what you can’t hear, you ought to read — all of them. They’re funny, horrifying, perceptive, often poetic, and always extremely interesting. You don’t normally expect (or need) eloquence in the words that accompany such skull-cleaving, ass-kicking music, but it’s a big bonus. You can (and should) read all the lyrics at Metal-Archives here.
Stranger will be released on LP, CD, and digitally by Relapse Records on December 9 in the U.S., December 8 in the UK and EU (December 5 in Germany and the Benelux countries). Pre-orders can be placed here or on iTunes at this location. Enjoy the whole album below.