“Barbara The Witch” is the third studio album from Norwegian Thrash Metal group Critical Solution and is to be released April 28th, 2017. Ah Critical Solution are a band that I’ve been wanting to check out for awhile. I heard their first release a few years ago and noted the strong especially 90s era Metallica influences in the vocals which were pretty cool and I thought the band definitely had chops. However I havent checked them out on awhile so I figure this album will be a perfect reintroduction to the band. So lets see if the band has evolved in the past few years!
1.Natas Fo Live-Opening with a very moody Gothic instrumental, I think this sets the tone well and is very King Diamond-esque in its approach but I dig it. There is a narration done by Arthur Brown which is pretty bad ass as well it is something you really don’t expect. I really think that it really ramps up the real opening song as well.
2.The Village-This song gets started in a very old school thrash kind of way in both the instruments and vocals. There are a oot of differing tempos and changes in the song that work very well and the vocals definitely fit great and have a bit of a punk feel to them as well. The band are really tight here as well and I dig the organ right in the middle of the song as well it again gives more of a theatric feel in the break of them song before the solo. Overall this is a great opener it really shows that this band can still play damn good.
3.Barbara The Witch- The first single off the album and it is again very trashy but has a bit of a modern progression to it between the verses. The verses and chorus are pure classic heavy metal and I find are really catchy as well. This is one of my favorites on the album as well it just really sticks with you.
4.Red Hooded Devils-I like the ominous opening on this track it is very atmospheric and changes up the pace a bit. The soft guitars are a nice inclusion as well and work quite nicely. However, when the song hits it really hits and definitely is one of the most epic songs on the album with speed being the main focus. It is a bit more simplified than the last two tracks but the chorus is really good as it has this haunting feel to it within it’s progression. The slower mid parts are pretty cool as well and adds more to the song than just to the beginning as well. Not a bad tune and one of the more well thought out songs on the album.
5.Peter Crow-This is another favorite on the album for me because the guitar lines are very Maiden-ish and work very well with the heavier chugging moments. The chorus is a lot more mid paced and has that epic notion about it with the more soaring vocals that dont tip above mid range but still feel very epic. The song goes in a lot of different directions with speed and starts and stops and is really interesting overall.
6.The Burning Pyre-This song opens more softly as well with some acoustic guitars that are really nice yet ominous as well which goes right into more heavy kind of marching beats and then…more narration from Arthur Brown. I think the narration was a nice inclusion here as well. This song has a bit more of a groove to it as well and shows a bit more of those Metallica influences in places as well. Overall, the song hits very well and keeps you banging your head all the way through with some interesting surprises throughout as well.
7.End of the Beginning-this is track is overall more narration and the album definitely shows its conceptual side very heavily but I dont mind because it adds to the interesting qualities of the record as a whole.
8.The Headless Horsemen-This is one of the fastest songs on the album and is all around just pure classic speed metal at its core and I love it. The band manages to play as fast as Anthrax in their hey day and still keeps the melody between the guitars quite well. The song does have some soft moments that lead back into these epic solo’s that are some of the best and most memorable on the album.
9.Officer Green-I love the heavier palm muted chugging on this song it grooves really well however it is really a more straightforward thrash song for the most part but still has that dark kind of progression that the band really knows how to do. Overall this is another juggernaut of a thrash song.
10.A Lady In White-This is definitely the most mid paced song on the album with a lot of guitar melodies in the core of the song but is overall a very straight forward soft atmospheric instrumental that may be a bit too long but isn’t bad.
11.Return Of The Witch- The previous track leads perfectly into this song which has a very testament feel in its progression but still has Critical Solution putting their own stamp on the sound especially with the the more unique vocals. This is definitely one of the most catchy songs on the album by far as well. The band really fire on all cylinders here for the final stretch.
12.Into The Abyss-This simple final narrative piece is what ends the main album and definitely is very dark in tone and ends the album quite well.
Overall, I give this album a solid 8 out of 10. Really for a band that has been around for just over ten years, I think Critical Solution are finally finding their own unique sound. They manage to craft these bad ass neck ripping thrash metal songs that have some modern and old school influences that blend well but also inject all theses theatrical bit and more atmospheric breaks in their songs that keep them quite interesting. This is an album that I think oldschool and newschool metal fans could enjoy. Also if this album sounds like your kind of thing, grab the special two cd edition with a second disc of covers from Ozzy, King Diamond, Black Sabbath and others entitled “Covers From Hell” it definitely is a nice treat with an alright great release from a band that really needs to start taking off, this is a band that deserves to be touring the world right now.