With thirty years of history attached to their name Cripple Bastards are not only legends of the early noisecore movement in the late 80’s but they’ve also formed their own niche within the natural evolution of grindcore since. There is a line drawn in the sand between three main eras of brutality, though, and each is important in understanding the when, why and how Cripple Bastards became more than just a raw experimental extreme hardcore band. Although a few members swapped in an out during the initial period of the band between 1988 and 1996 the band would slowly develop a style of unhinged violence and throat punching brutality with the key members being vocalist Giulio the Bastard, guitarist Alberto the Crippler, and drummer Michele Hoffman. Together they would rip through nearly twenty split releases (amounting to three compilations worth of material), countless covers, and finally a full length ‘Your Lies in Check’ (1996). A bootleg copy of this release put Cripple Bastards on my map a few years after its release and it’d be a couple of decades until I’d conceded that they could do any better.
The rest of the world had limited access to Cripple Bastards until their third full-length ‘Desperately Insensitive’ (2003) released to decent distribution and a rabid grindcore fanbase worldwide. A far cry from the Cryptic Slaughter-meets-Unholy Grave slapping of their first album, but with an increased focus on death/punk heaviness it is no wonder that this would be one of their biggest ever releases. While I still enjoy the record it is a shame that many folks didn’t pick up on the first decade of the band’s history, and wouldn’t get to experience Alberto the Crippler‘s style of riffing. Post-2000 the influence of new guitarist Der Kommissar introduced modern hardcore influences along with a shared taste in the deathgrind evolution of Extreme Noise Terror and Napalm Death. If ‘Enemy of the Music Business’ set the tone for the future with the spirit of the past back in 2000, and you liked it, then Cripple Bastards‘ four albums since 2008 are essential listening.
Looking at the collection of music I’ve grabbed in the last two decades there was no real reason I’d not picked up a Cripple Bastards LP between ‘Misantropo a Senso Unico’ (2000) and ‘Nero in Metastasi’ (2014) other than general disinterest in grindcore. ‘Nero in Metastasi’ did end up bringing me back to the band without much hesitation and in 2015 I’d get a chance to see them at the LA Grindcore Festival. So if you jumped back on the bandwagon for the last album as I did, I think you’ll be up for ‘La Fine Cresce Da Dentro’ in 2018. It seems like their approach was largely identical in terms of fidelity and recording when compared to the last album as they’ve used the same studio with help from Fredrik Nordström and Studio Fredman in Sweden. Yet the thrash and death metal influences on this seventh full-length from the band helped crank my own enthusiasm up a bit more than expected.
To paraphrase Mike Williams of Eyehategod, the word you’re looking for in describing Cripple Bastards is ‘brutal’, and while I think that is the best way to sum up their thirty year history ‘La Fine Cresce Da Dentro’ (‘The End Is Growing From Within’) impresses with nuance and thrashing riff additionally. The inclusion of second guitarist Wild Vitto since 2014 allows for further ambition and an extra layer of lead guitar that greatly enhances the scope of Cripple Bastards enduring sound. This ends up producing an album that is even more informed by the jog of thrash metal and the rolling blur that death metal provides (see: “Crociati Del Mare Interno”) but without losing the spirited grindcore they’ve been developing for the last twenty years. I do think that the guitar work slightly starts to feel like ‘Dedication’ era Raised Fist, that period of Swedish metallic hardcore at least, but obviously without the breakdowns and coming from a grindcore band.
Although I am not a die hard fan, and instead a fair weather dabbler in the world of grindcore today I find nearly all of the ‘legacy’ groups still around in some form since the beginning consistently impress me the most. Cripple Bastards are definitely among the most enduring and still very active bands playing this style but their discography has shown a steady, subtle progression that affords them no ‘dark period’ or ‘garbage sellout crapfest’ in the project’s history. Still up there with the steady greats like Phobia, Napalm Death and Unholy Grave it has been easy to see Cripple Bastards outlasting them all whenever I sit down with ‘La Fine Cresce De Dentro’. Highly recommended. Grindcore albums are trick for recommending previews as the flow of any given 3-4 minutes can define the entire experience among 1-2 minute tracks. I’d recommend checking out the classic rip of “Non Coinvolto” to feel the fire, “Crimine Contro l’immagine” for just one of many thrash riffed sections of the album, and closer “Crociati Del Mare Interno” to hear all disparate elements mashed together into one massive chunk.
Creatività contro la dipendenza passiva. 3.75/5.0
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