Cryptic Slaughter
Stream of Consciousness (Reissue)

Back in the mid 80’s a demo band labeled as the new brutal thrash hardcore band to end all bands kept creeping into the ‘zines I would buy.  Cryptic Slaughter were that band and their 1986 debut, Convicted was a no brainer first day vinyl purchase for me.  Since that time the band has remained one of my favorites and after their insane follow-up, Money Talks, I was like how can they top this?  The band did in 1988 with their third album,  Stream of Consciousness.  The band would later break up soon after their 1990 fourth album, Speak Your Peace-but that album would have been better suited under a different band name as it’s not the Cryptic Slaughter band I knew with the first three classics, which had the classic line-up intact.

Several years ago Relapse Records did phenomenal deluxe reissues for Convicted as well as Money Talks.  The remastered sound, along with the bonus songs and packed booklets were a thing of beauty.  I was in touch with Relapse and the band about reissuing Stream of Consciousness in a deluxe remaster, but their were issues with the rights to that album, as well as issues with members within the band-current/former.  I had the original album in vinyl and original cd format, but I always felt the album could have been “cleaned up” a bit, production wise.  Original cd copies of the album were fetching over $300 on Ebay and they were used copies.  I thought about it a few times, but just could not sell one of my favorite albums.  Then end of September, of this year, my buddy, Armando, from Marquee Records lists on Ebay Stream of Consciousness, as a reissue cd he was putting out…..the rest is history and I will get to the main reissue points after I speak about the album, itself.

Stream of Consciousness saw the band begin to stray away from their politically charged punkish lyrical themes in favor of: TV Evangelists and more personally themed lyrics about growing up in the 80’s like drugs, friends and relationships, in general.  The music showed a more mature side to the band as they continued with some of the longer songs, that were present on Money Talks.  Songs still had ferocious thrashing primitive blasting, and the band continued with allowing the riffs to breathe even more with a lot of creative musical arrangements.  One of the things the album was slagged for was the production.  There is a muddiness to the production and the tightness, displayed on the previous album, Money Talks, was not as prevalent.  For me there is a certain charm to the album’s production because it sounds as if the band amped up their instruments, mic’d everything and played the album all the way through and that was the recording.  The songs are so strong on the album, that the production never irked me, like some.

Tracks like “Circus of Fools”, with the plucky bass guitar and brutal thrashing hardcore madness after the opening is enough to have you circle pit all day.  And if you’re not doing the Bill Crooks vocal impression after the isolated bass guitar part, saying “Ra, Ra, Ra, Ra”, then you’re already dead.  The slow down mosh part in the opener is one of the best things the band ever did musically, imo. “Last Laugh” with another signature Crooks part in the opening after the blast  where he says “Huuh” after the music stops and then it goes right into the frenzied speed again – pure hardcore thrashing madness, vintage 80’s style.  I still emulate all of his mannerisms and even though I’m a death metal singer, the band always had a profound influence with me because they pushed musical boundaries to the max.  I grew up with the bands lyrics and they followed the news closely, as well as sharing about personal demons -just awesomeness.

“One Last Thought” always spoke to me about someone not living up to their potential and almost like going through life as a zombie and that those types of individuals can be sketchy, if you keep them in your life.  The entire album captures the energy and weird musical arrangements that only the band could do. Take “Aggravated” for instance.  Weird and cool guitar melodies, stomping mosh parts then slow serene parts that erupt into these vicious blasts.  The band was on fire.

Armando was able to get the rights to this classic and cleaned up the sound a bit.  He tweaked certain elements, but left the original sound intact.  Some of the hiss from the original recording and some of the muddiness, (not all of it), is certainly cleaned up and the sound is overall better and clearer.  The “buzz” sound at the start of “One Last Thought”  is even in there.  It was a recording glitch, that I believe happened in the mixing/mastering process originally as it was prevalent in my vinyl, cd and in this reissue, therefore it could not be taken out, it does seem a little subdued, than the original cd, therefore the remaster fixed that part, just a bit.

The original cover is back with the band logo in the rainbow colors, and not yellow, like in the original cd.  This cd cover is exactly like the vinyl version.  The bread and butter is the packaging of this cd.  It comes in a nice slipcase, with a band sticker and mini poster, shrunk down to the size of the cd booklet.  The booklet has all the lyrics and a plethora of live pictures and show flyers.  A bunch of the pictures I remember from the various ‘zines jogged the old memory bank and continue to leave me with a smile.  The cd tray card has more artwork and the booklet is packed, stacked and cracked.  Marquee Records has always been my favorite label for reissues and this is top shelf stuff here.

And what is better than having the best Cryptic Slaughter album finally and properly reissued?  It’s the fact that in 2021 the band reformed, no longer with the moniker Lowlife, but as Cryptic Slaughter.  Original vocalist, Bill Crooks, still has nothing to do with the band, this is a shame for me, but I am looking forward to see if the band puts out some new material, in the vein of the first three classic albums, because the core original members Less Evans (guitar) and drummer, Scott Peterson are still slogging forth with the band.  I urge you all to pick up this reissue, if you loved the original and you may never have had it.  Original copies are almost impossible to find and as I stated this reissue rules-it gives proper respect to Cryptic Slaughter, who are still so influential in the hardcore/thrash/grindcore scene.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
November 17th, 2022

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