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Willfully retro yet delivered with gusto, Hyëna, the fourth long-player (and first outing for Metal Blade) from German thrash revivalists Cripper, could be mistaken for a vintage Testament, Kreator, or Sepultura offering were it not for the devilish growl of frontwoman Britta Görtz. The backwards loop that prefaces the blistering title cut is really the only semi-forward-thinking idea to be found on the 11-track set, but the band's technical acumen and penchant for occasionally interrupting its death thrash volleys with thick blasts of groove metal help to make Hyëna much more than just a rote, '80s-fueled nostalgia trip. Much of this is due to the pyrotechnics of guitarists Jonathan Stenger and Christian Bröhenhorst, both of whom employ licks that are as inventive as they are economical (album highlight "The Origin" torpedoes by via a particularly sick riff). Cripper explore their more doom metal-oriented side on the beefy closer "Pure," a big slice of Sabbathy devil's food cake that finds Görtz at her most convincingly guttural, but the band is at its best when the cart is close to coming off of the rails, as evidenced by standout cuts like "Tourniquet," "A Dime for the Establishment," "Hyena," and the aforementioned "The Origin," all four of which pack a real clean punch to the head and neck, in a good way.

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