Condition Critical hail from New Jersey band and play a brutal form of thrash metal. They do have some death metal elements with some snarled vocal tones every so often and some of the riffs, but by and large they’re thrash. They have been essentially nicknamed and aptly so, Demolition Hammer Jr. Due to Demolition Hammer being near and dear to my heart, I absolutely love Condition Critical and the style of brutal thrash they create. Think Demolition Hammer on speed, since Condition Critical like to inject some brutal blast beats into their tracks every now and again.
Operational Hazard was released in 2013 and Extermination Plan in 2016. So did these albums really need remasters? It’s not like they were recorded 20 years ago. I’ll first touch on aspects of each album and address the reissue aspects second. Operational Hazard has a guitar tone and vocal style heavily influenced by Demolition Hammer. The guitar tone is most of all heavy and with well-placed blast beats will make you want to windmill in the pit All…Day…Long!! “Random Acts of Killing” comes storming through the gates with some pinch harmonics and a guitar tone and vocal arrangement that had me thinking of Epidemic of Violence from Demolition Hammer. The 2.35 part has a monstrous groove moment with double bass and the pits to this song have got to be killer. Hell if I was in the band, I would even slow this part down a tad in a live setting to make it even more lethal. Condition Critical would then have lawsuits out the ying-yang, since there is no way fans would survive this brutality in a live setting. “Parasitic Torment” is up next and is monstrous and you can hear the audible bass guitar plucking from a mile away. The 3 minute mark has a monstrous ultra-heavy and catchy groove part, which is well done. The rest of Operational Hazard has these moments as well as faster, blasting passages. One of the strongest debut albums in recent memory and along with an album cover, from classic artist, Ed Repka Ok, let’s shift some members around and 3 years later the follow-up Extermination Plan is unleashed.
I had no idea Condition Critical released Extermination Plan, earlier in 2016. The main reason is the band released the album, independently and without label support, ads and promotion was virtually non-existent, except for the band, themselves pushing it. The album did make it in my best of list and it’s a shame this album has not received more recognition. Following their trademark sound, from Operational Hazard and kicking out some former members, and adding some new ones, Extermination Plan is excellent from start to finish. “Interminable Surgery”, begins with a great guitar tone and opening riff and thrashes along, until a quick little ditty of a blast beat comes in. Cool guitar solos come in before the 2.54 mark where a killer groove erupts and floorboards collapse all around you, swallowing you and your pathetic soul. Catchy and memorable, with a few gang shouts thrown in to kick you in your pants, and remind you what a killer opening song this is. “Fatal Incision” is up next, reminding me a little of Municipal Waste like vocals, with the guitar tone having a killer Demolition Hammer tone. Crushing….The title track has an excellent bass guitar opening, reminding me of early Testament. The song grooves, thrashes and the 1.45 mark has a killer rhythm section groove and nice vocal patterns. Cool guitar solo, screeches and fades out before the, you’re right you guessed it, the Holy Shit part: Guitar riff comes in, cymbal hit, drum hit and boom, right into a well-placed blast beat. This part is ferocious and kicks ass. The rest of the album is killer, through and through. The production is a little thin, in places and is a little low, but overall all instruments and vocals sound great.
The booklet contains lyrics and is nicely layed out, as is the cd tray. My main quibble and I already contacted the band, is about the cd pressing. This most likely has to do with the album being put out by the band themselves. The cd is not a silver cd, but rather a cd-r. The band and I went back ‘n forth and I was being respectful, just stating a fact; a silver cd is durable and cd-r’s, overtime are less durable. Damn, I’ve been a music collector for over 30 years, I know what the hell I’m talking about. I spoke to Eldridge Horror, last year regarding this. They understood and also silver cd’s are more expensive, but they repressed their cd onto a silver backing. Here are some facts: Cd-r’s have a dye, aligned with a laser, which in turn constructs the data, pressed onto the cd. Overtime the dye layer deteriorates, due to exposure to light and also because the upper surface is thinner. Silver, regular pressed cd’s, are what you would call a legit cd. It contains the physically stamped data layer, which in turn makes it more durable. Ok, enough of the history lesson. Condition Critical’s second album, Extermination Plan, is terrific and bests their debut. Brutal, heavy and most of all, memorable. I always talk about you can be the most brutal and fastest band on the planet, but if you cannot create memorable songs, really what’s the point?? You want the listener to go back to your albums time and time again and be able to recall your music and maybe even hum a riff or beat in their head. Condition Critical, for being such a young band, are masters at creating memorable and catchy songs. Gentlemen, be proud of this album and for you so-called death/thrash fans out there…Buy this and their first album. Like their FB page and realize Condition Critical are a helluva band!
But wait….there’s more. Armando Pereira owner of Marquee Records, understood the awesomeness of Condition Critical and reissued, both albums and Mr. Sohn remastered both. Anyone who knows me knows how much I worship not only good reissues, but Marquee Records. They represent the GOLD standard in album reissues. So as I mentioned, in the beginning, did these really need a remastering?? Kind of, sort of. There are no bonus tracks on the reissues and the remastering cleans up certain production items, on both albums. For Operational Hazard, the guitars have a little extra bite to them and the cymbals are definitely crisper, with the remaster. The volume is tweaked slightly…to the untrained ear both album versions will sound the same. I notice an ever so slight increase in the volume. For Extermination Plan the remastering is a little more evident. For one thing the cd is a true silver cd and not a cd-r, which is a monstrous bonus for me and for the consumer. The cymbals are crisper and the guitar tone is a little more meaty with the volume level increased a bit. So overall did these need a remastering? Probably not, but do this reissues further get the Condition Critical name out there?? You bet your ass they do. Also the cd booklets are all housed in gorgeous digipaks, contain lyrics and pictures.
Marquee Records have presented these reissues, perfectly, to the consumer. If you do not own the originals, by all means pick-up these reissues. If you have the originals still pick-up the reissues and maybe give the originals to your metal buddy to spread the name of Condition Critical. As long as this band continues to put forth excellent music, they will be a force to reckon with as the years go on. Both albums are phenomenal!!
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