One of the best things about the internet age is the fact that previously undiscovered and unknown bands are easy to find now. A band like Morbid Saint spent years in relative anonymity, but seems to have revived their career thanks to their music being easier to hear. Crucial Fix is one band that is at an even deeper level of obscurity. Their debut self-titled record was originally recorded in 1994, but remained unreleased until just recently. And from the sound of this album, there’s no doubt that it was recorded two decades ago, as it doesn’t have a particularly modern feel to it. The production does tend to hurt the album a bit. The lack of contemporary elements isn’t the problem; it’s the fact that things sound a little buried here. The guitars aren’t really far enough in the foreground, which makes them feel thin (even though there’s a very clear crunch).
From an overall sound perspective, it is once again clear that “Crucial Fix” was recorded in 1994. Though thrash was practically dead at that time, many of the late-comers sounded confused, and lacking clear direction. Even though this is a thrash record, it doesn’t have a ton of classic punky drumbeats, or an endless number of speedy riffs. Instead, it tackles a more mid-paced sound, occasionally opting to inject melody in favour of speed (except on “To Be Or Not To Be”, where the band goes all out). To be fair to Crucial Fix, they aren’t offering dumbed-down groove metal riffs, but it just seems like there could be more here. They clearly come from a thrash background, and there are some aggressive moments on the record, but something is missing.
I suspect that where Crucial Fix hoped to make up for this laid-back sound was in the songwriting, which is exactly what every band should strive for regardless of speed. There are a lot of particularly unique vocal melodies and styles throughout the record, especially on songs like “Eerie Hauntings” and “Solid Steam”. The band’s singer isn’t limited to a monotone grunt, as he displays an ability to really sing at times, and even to belt out some high-pitched screams (the aforementioned “To Be Or Not To Be” having numerous examples, and the ending of "Blinded Minds" has a great one too).
For me, the appeal of Crucial Fix is more about the thrill of the hunt to discover every long-lost thrash band. Though there are moments of this record I enjoyed, it didn’t have the staying power of a lot of other thrash records. It mostly comes down to a lack of straight-ahead thrashing, and is likely the result of playing this style of metal in the post-“Black Album” decade.
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"To Be Or Not To Be"
3.3/5 or 66%.
Written by Scott