Wednesday, June 6, 2012



MRR #350

"Criminal Code has crafted a hardcore record that is equally interested with cultivating gloomy tension as it is with absolutely obliterating listeners. It’s not a dynamic record. The vocals are consistently shouted, the drums lurch and wallop in the middle of choruses and the guitar is severely blown out but discernable in the mix. The group has succeeded in conveying dark tones without compromising any of their fury. The drums are particularly effective, as the percussion is relentlessly busy and hardly repeats it’s self, but it doesn’t appear to be the result of a showy attitude. Likewise, the guitar alternates between neurotic, dark leads and fierce riffs without detracting from other musical qualities. Interestingly, their morose tones don’t seem contrived, as one might expect considering the rising popularity of goth-influenced punk bands, their aesthetic is natural, unpretentious and all the more effective because of it. This is brooding depressive hardcore of the finest order"


"Olympia’s never been short a great scene, either—and one of its latest exports, Criminal Code, has dropped a warhead in the form of Cold Thought. With hints of early Hüsker Dü and Articles Of Faith’s more melodic excursions, the album saws off its own jagged edges—the result is a blurry, chiming, fuzz-drenched onslaught of impassioned, mid-tempo anthems that mark the boundary of where hardcore and the artier end of punk collided in the mid-’80s. It’s an undermined pocket of the punk canon, and Criminal Code makes it feel so fresh, it may as well have helped invent it.


"Criminal Code like their treble. At least I think that's the right term, I don't know nuffink about this music business, hence my propensity for garbage reviews where I just write “hey, this is great!” or “hey, this is fucking shit!”. Anyway, Criminal Code play hardcore punk that very much relies on treble. This gives them a somewhat 1980s sound, and bizarrely, to my ears at least, makes them sound a bit like Revolution Summer-esque obscuremos such as After Words, but faster. Or just early Husker Du. All seven songs on here stretch their legs and hit a straight ahead rhythm, and by golly does it conjure up quite the sound. Clearly there are killer melodies strewn throughout these songs, but in the way that something like Torches to Rome is “melodic”, you know? It's all buried under fuzz and fury. And bar the drawn out noisy introduction to b-side opener, the belligerent “Specimen”, Criminal Code tend to just set the bulldozer in gear and leap from the cab."


"Like the healthy toddler assigned lifelong “living miracle” status by virtue of being born with knotted intestines or a kidney lodged in its sinus cavity, Criminal Code are an amazing band blazing forward in defiance of their musical DNA. It’s true that the stylistic attack by way of cherry-picked forefathers that defines Criminal Code would be some high-mileage, acutely-exhausted tedium in lesser hands, but it should be noted that “in lesser hands” happens to be the only place to currently find these building blocks; sonic vanilla worn smooth by years of HoZaC/Termbo herd-mentality and the paint-by-numbers thievery that some incorrectly see as “influence”. Influence is impossible when the historical shopping spree is limited to a picked-over end-cap with the same five or six touchstones to choose from. That isn’t influence; it’s playing by a set of rules no one has had the motivation to challenge.

But Criminal Code have grabbed a huge chunk of Screamers and filled in the gaps with what sounds like a hardcore past and an immersion in Jay Reatard’s Blood Visions. If I still need to spell it out for you, I will: under normal circumstances, the musical affair that calls for a profound Screamers angle to be in bed with attempted yet tragically-fumbled golden-moment Reatard … well, this grand idea could be face down in the highway median, engulfed in flames while being sodomized by a yeti, and my foot wouldn’t so much as hover over the brake pedal. And that goes for each and every band that still rides this terminally-flogged horse … EXCEPT Criminal Code.

Oh, I forgot to mention the Metal Circus-perfect Mould guitar sound achieved on this EP, which was unfair of me due to its relative scarcity compared to how the aforementioned attributes are scattered across the shitscape we continue to romanticize as some form of underground. This greases the gears to push the reality of Cold Thought right up in our ears: Criminal Code have released a 7” and an EP that both belong in the upper echelon of all things rock, and they did it with broken tools and an engine that, 99.9% of the time, fails to turn over. This small record of bursting energy and huge hooks is as great as it gets, and Criminal Code have spewed a great deal of integrity, unknowingly of course, by remaining in an aesthetic/sonic ghetto that needs an ass-load of help. Recommended. Highly. "

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