Crisis

Like Sheep Led to Slaughter

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Cult art metal band Crisis finally returned to activity in 2004 with their fourth album, Like Sheep Led to Slaughter, 11 years after their start and seven since their last release (having actually changed names for a short spell in between). And except for welcoming new drummer Joshua Florian and expanding to a quintet with the addition of second guitarist Jywanza Hobson, not much has changed in Crisis' wacky world. "Expect the unexpected" remains their unofficial credo, as restless rhythms and untraditional song structures continually vie for position with perennially madcap vocalist Karyn Crisis to unleash the sort of controlled chaos fans have come to expect. As impulsive and unpredictable as ever, the singer quickly proves to have lost none of her vocal elasticity, bouncing from childlike mewlings to throat-shredding holocaust in the space of a breath. And yet, there's a distinct, newfound sense of focus to Crisis' songwriting madness, with particularly memorable numbers such as "A Graveyard for Bitches," "Nomad," and "Corpus Apocalypse" revisiting the spirit of years past -- minus the reckless, loony-for-loony's sake excess that often made them almost impossible to digest. In fact, it's safe to say that the three tracks mentioned above qualify among the very best of the group's decade-long existence. Moving right along, hard/soft (mostly hard) dynamics are repeatedly stretched to dangerous thresholds and maximum shock effect: from the fury of "Blood Burden," to the childlike lullaby "Rats in a Maze," to the epic album highlight "Secrets of the Prison House," and through to the mellow conclusion of "The Fate." All in all, Like Sheep Led to Slaughter marks a triumphant return for a sorely missed group of risk-takers, and provides as good a starting place as any for those sampling Crisis for the first time.

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