F U L L . R E V I E W S

Cradle To Grave - Cradle To Grave 2004 Power Play Records --EC

Track Listing
1. As We Lay Dying
2. Projectile
3. Nuclear Flowers
4. Just Cause
5. Sunrise Sunset
6. What I Say
7. Southern Oak
8. Shut My Eyes
9. The Manipulated Dead
10. Wounded
11. Across The Sky
12. Bleeding Heaven
13. Crown Of Snakes
I've never been a huge fan of jock rock. Sure, I jumped on the wagon with those Texas thunderheads just like everyone else in the early 90s. Dimebag and the rest of Pantera laid waste to a glam rock era with one swift, power hungry haymaker, knocking out everyone with their first official release "Cowboys From Hell". Since then everybody and their mother's mother have laid down those chops and belted out hate filled screams in the vein of Phil Anselmo. But you have to ask yourself, when is enough really enough? We've seen Exhorder (possibly the only other band to lay claim to innovating this sound), Overdose, Pissing Razors, Machine Head, Dearly Beheaded, Konkra, and a zillion other "original" bands step through those saloon doors. Some were great, some were mediocre, and others were just plain clones. The cream of the crop remained Exhorder and Pantera. With this hardcore sound remaining stronger than ever we've seen Headbanger's Ball, MTV, and Roadrunner Records issue in a whole circus act of Pantera styled hate rock. I've really had enough of it. None of those bands seem to have the drive or intensity to create anything really listenable. Power Play Records introduces us to an underground act that may be doing this sound better than all of the rest, finally creating something memorable and unique out of a stale genre that has seen its better days.

Canada's Cradle To Grave play a consistent, sonic firestorm of hardcore heavy metal. The band's sound is obviously deeply rooted in Pantera's way of thinking, but I hear quite a bit of Exhorder, Fall From Grace, and mid-era Corrosion Of Conformity in their sound. Huge, sludgy slabs crawl out of nowhere, but the group focus most of their attention on creating non-stop lethal carnage in the form of violent chops and bone shaking rhythm. These guys aren't afraid to take chances, mixing in quite a bit of leads and solos as well as a number of good, bottom heavy doom grooves. They really mix it up well, never relying totally on the barbaric sound system they have put in place. The band can sound as ferocious as any death-core band alive, but I really don't see them on the same page as the mindless acts popping up all over the place. As odd as it seems, Cradle To Grave really seem like a 90s band. They certainly aren't dated by any means, but they actually seem like a band that could have emerged around the same time as Pantera and Exhorder. They really have that 90s vibe that was found with Corrosion Of Conformity, Life Of Agony, and even Fight. Call it hardcore, call it Urban, call it the heaviest form of thrash, either way this whole album works extremely well.

The band was formed in 2002 by Denis Barthek, who spent some time with the band Aggression prior to founding Cradle To Grave. By May of 2003 the band's lineup was complete and the group went into the studio to record a five song demo. Now the Canadians have released their debut album through New York's Power Play Records, a solid first start to what could be a very successful musical career. From street wise hardcore to tight-knit thrash, Cradle To Grave put into place a system of intricate extreme influences that shake the walls down. From mid-Eastern guitar work on opener "As We Lay Dying" to the bluesy sounds of "Southern Oak", fans will be in for quite a rip roar ride here. With so many avenues explored, so many roads left open, the curves and twists on this album are rather extraordinary to say the least. Every track has its own unique signature, with each cut showing off a new side of the band. Through all thirteen tracks the band never strays from their primary goal, providing maximum metal entertainment. Highlights for me is the punk fueled cut "Projectile", the hard rock structured "Shut My Eyes", and the southern fried Down styled "The Manipulated Dead".

Fans of everything from Pantera and Crowbar to Metallica and Anthrax have to pick this one up. I think this album will appeal to punk, doom, hard rock, thrash, and surely hardcore fans. It really takes a swipe at metal across the board. It has been a long time since I've heard an "extreme" metal band this damn good. Cradle To Grave have pushed the limits of a genre that painted itself into a corner years ago. These guys have widened the corridor and allowed for much more breathing room in an already crowded environment. In a room full of familiar faces, Cradle To Grave stands out and stands tall.

This one comes highly recommended!

--EC 02.10.05

About this Writer:
Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.

Cradle To GraveCradle To Grave
Eric Compton2/9/2005


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