Sound — 8
Condition: Critical is a straight-up metal band originating from Michigan. Although the band is now more lenient on a combination of classic thrash metal at its core sound mixed with heavy groove and metalcore, their debut "Scripture Of Ruin" shows promise of many types of metal. The album doesn't let up in energy, although the album does feature two ballads. With a combination of sing/scream vocals and distinct riffs, Condition: Critical is bringing back a style of metal that was once loved in the 80's scene and is still beloved now. The Michigan scene was considered one of the most prominent metal scenes in the States in the new millennium. In a time of constant hardcore music and scream-filled noise that is popular in bands such as the famous Asking Alexandria and The Devil Wears Prada (no offense to said bands, however local bands are total copycats of these), Michigan decided to bring out some different styles of metal. This includes the sounds of death metal, Nu-Metal, hard rock, groove metal, and the classic thrash metal. Although there are a few hardcore bands in between the lines, the scene that was showing promise in the future of metal was true metal bands like these. C:C (their nickname) spent much of their time around the bar scene during the making of "Scripture Of Ruin". They were able to separate the good bands from the not-so-good bands. In this way, they found out what styles of performance they needed to utilize to become the best. Their sound, however, comes from more famous bands like Lamb Of God, Metallica, Pantera, Slayer, and many more. These influences show on their debut outstandingly, yet it showcases a new execution of how metal is played. The production itself is high quality considering the setting it was in; a simple basement studio. Effects come into play in tracks like "De-Human" and "Cold". The layering is well put together on all songs, but stand out on songs like "Line 'Em Up" and the 15-minute epic "Home". The vocals are well balanced between the backup growls and the harmonies also featured in "Home".
Lyrics — 8
Clint Franklin, singer and main songwriter of C:C, showcases some promising material in his debut. The vocals suit the songs in a very appropriate way, avoiding being too flashy with the singing and not being too overwhelming with the screaming. He knows how to balance these two skills greatly, enhancing the energy of the songs. Being the debut of his lyrical content (he has previously never written lyrics for another band before "Scripture"), he tries his best at writing some interesting subjects to fit the songs. Lyrical content includes zombie killing ("De-Human"), dictatorship ("Control Me"), overcoming mental obstacles ("Glass Prison"), conceit ("Restless"), and a twisted tale of two lovers in the war as their relationship experiences death ("Home"). "Home" is the vocal climax for a few reasons: the lyrical content blows all the other songs out of the water; the vocal harmonies and melodies are very catchy; guest vocalist Andrea Peake brings a calm Amy Lee/Cristina Scabbia style to the table. Make sure to check out this 15-minute masterpiece. Overall, I would give his performance on the debut an 8. Although his vocals and lyrics are very well put, he still has a lot of promise that hasn't been brought out of his mind.
Overall Impression — 9
01. "De-Human": The opener of "Scripture" starts with some sound effects of a burning city that has been attacked by zombies. This foreshadows the dark metalcore effect that is to come. The riff is so genuinely thrash that it captures your attention right as you hear it. As the song goes, it pelts you with bone-crushing open chords throughout. Drummer Chris Snook brings out his double bass to back up the background atmosphere that bassist Alex Medina puts out. Overall, lyrically and instrumentally a great song. Great riff at the ending breakdown written by lead Seth Earl as well. 02. "Control Me": Very "Lamb Of God" oriented here. It features some vocal extremities by Franklin, although the lyrics can be decently cheesy at points. The guitar harmonies between Earl and rhythm Nick Matheson are balanced well. Not one of the better ones on the record, but has a great live feel to it. 03. "Bludgeon": Another groove metal song. The internal riff, written by Matheson, starts off the song well and branches off into some split-rhythm instrumentals. Lyrical content is pretty gory within this one. Epic breakdown with awesome screaming at the end. Vocals sound a bit strained at points but the words stand out. 04. "Line 'Em Up": One of my favorites on the record. It has everything; great intro, great thrash metal speed along the likes of Slayer, great vocal performance, awesome blast beats by Snook, and the catchiest chorus backed by gang vocals performed by the whole band and a couple friends in the studio. Probably the best solo by Earl. A standout track on the album, with lyrics talking about Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket". *For those who have one of the first 100 copies, you can catch a hilarious bonus track by Seth Earl in between "Line 'Em Up" and "The Final Chapter". 05. "The Final Chapter": Another thrash song to follow the mind-blowing thrash you experience in "Line 'Em Up". This song probably features more memorable riffs than its predecessor, with great speed and catchy choruses. The lyrics and rhythm of the vocals compliment the instrumentation very well in this song. The song was to feature a guest vocalist (Ian Howard, previously of local band Down Fall) for the amazing breakdown that occurs after Earl's shred-fest, but this did not happen for unknown reasons. Instrumentally and lyrically, this song beats its predecessor. 06. "Glass Prison": A crowd favorite, because it's a ballad. "Glass Prison" is one of two songs to feature Franklin on the guitar. He performs the most memorable solo on the album that is well complimented by Earl's rhythm solo following just after. Although the song is an extremely popular hit for the band, it is very repetitive and uninteresting until the choruses. 07. "Cold": The leading single off of the album. It takes reign as possibly their most mainstream song on the album, yet still captures great metal riffs and energy. Simply the best song on the album, no doubts. The lyrics are fantastic, the vocals are prime, and the riff is so catchy. A highlight also for Snook, as he puts a tasty drum intro onto the song. A MUST. 08. "Restless": If you're into metalcore, hardcore, deathcore, or any type of "core" music, this song is for you. "Restless" showcases some of the band's most innovative guitar work, co-written by Franklin and Earl. Low growls are rare and in-between for Franklin; however on this song, the instruments are marinated with his scarily deep vocals. FANTASTIC live. This song broadcasts their signature slogan featured on some of their merchandise, "Suck it Up". 09. "Bullet From The Grave": Another hit song in their setlist. This song also is on the verge of the mainstream, but has an incredibly sludgy main riff with sour patches that make you cringe in amazement when you hear it. The first song C:C ever wrote contains some of Seth's best solo work. The chorus is very catchy and memorable with an ending that blows you away, containing double bass and triplets on the guitar that end the song on a high note. Live, Franklin does amazing screaming work. 10. "Home": YOU MUST LISTEN TO THIS SONG, EVEN THOUGH IT IS 15 MINUTES LONG. Here's why. -Although the song is lengthy, there is no dead spots in it whatsoever (the intro is the only questionable part). -Guest vocalist Andrea Peake sounds like a goddess. -The lyrics are the best on the album. -Choruses are top-notch amazing, with fantastic vocal harmonies and melodies. -Franklin kills it with an epic guitar solo in the middle. -Amazing breakdown. -Best scream on the album at about the 11:30-12 minute mark. -Guest guitarist Andrew Sprague of Damascus performs the greatest guitar solo ever invented (rumored to have only recorded it in three takes, completely improvised). Nothing wrong with this song at all whatsoever. For a local debut, it shows much promise. However, I feel the album could have contained more a central sound. Although you can hear the distinct C:C sound execution in every song, they differ very much from each other. People will like this about the album, the diversity of it. I, however, feel like the album could have a central sound instead of each song taking its own form. If I lost the album, I would go catch them again at a local show (at this time, they tour around Michigan constantly) and buy it again. Or I could download it off of iTunes to save time. Definitely a band to check out if you're looking for some new true metal.