Condition Critical made quite a bit of noise with their “Bred To Kill” demo, so it was a long 2-year wait until the release of their debut album, “Operational Hazard”. As you are greeted by the ever-familiar Ed Repka cover art, you will also notice that this record does a pretty great job conforming to the late 80’s thrash style. This album is pretty short, and it really never relents. The band manages to reach their levels of brutality in differing ways from other crushingly heavy bands such as Sadus. Rather than simply only firing out riffs as fast as possible, Condition Critical know how to use more bludgeoning riffs that are amplified in heaviness by how thrashy the production is. With that said, there is no shortage of speed. The opening track, “Random Acts of Killing”, does a pretty great job of showing how the different sounds can be meshed together successfully.
Like all great thrash records before it, “Operational Hazard” is driven only by the quality of the riffs. The drumming is of course impressive, but it does not stand out relative to other extreme metal drumming out there. It was nice to hear the occasional blast beat integrated, but otherwise, this is relatively standard thrash drumming. Likewise, the bass may be noticeable, and extremely thick in tone, but the playing won’t wow you. It did pop out nicely with a solo on "Gravitational Dismember" though. In addition, the vocals are very predictable for thrash. As a huge thrash fan, I could not be more pleased with the singing on this album. The singer manages to grunt pretty fiercely, and the moderate use of gang vocals brings the intensity up another notch. One area I would not mind the band exploring more is featuring more shredding. The solos on this album are really impressive (see: “Morning Sickness”), and the band would benefit from abusing them throughout the record.
Overall, Condition Critical does little to reinvent the wheel. Thrash fans should be all over this record, however, because of its textbook execution of quality thrash metal. There isn’t a questionable moment on “Operational Hazard”, as every riff is high quality headbanging material. If you want to go back to the 80's, give this record a listen!
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"Random Acts of Killing"
4.2/5 or 84%.
Written by Scott