Criminal are no strangers to the ups and downs of the music bus iness. From their humble beginnings in the budding South American metal scene of the early 90s to playing as direct support to Metallica in front of 55,000 fans in their home town of Santiago de Chile, they have pretty much seen it all. Trends like nu metal and metalcore have come and gone, but Criminal keep delivering pure, unadulterated metal of the highest order in a perfect blend of death, thrash and hardcore. Formed in 1991 by guitarist/vocalist Anton Reisenegger after the break-up of Chilean death metal pioneers Pentagram, Criminal’s first decade was n othing short of a success story, including five-digit album sales, heavy rotation o n MTV Latino and support slots with acts such as Kreator, Sepultura, Slayer, Exodus and Motörhead. When he felt he had achieved everything he could in his ho me country, Reisenegger decided to relocate to the UK in 2001, with Criminal regrouping in a half-Chilean, half- British line-up. The band kept releasing quality material and playing live, both in Europe and South America, on festivals such as Wacken, Summer Breeze and Bl oodstock, and supporting bands as diverse as Chimaira, Brujeria, Lamb Of God , Megadeth and Metallica. Criminal’s current line- up was completed when Berlin-based Chilean guitar virtuoso Sergio Klein joined the band in 2015. Later that year the ban d re-signed to Metal Blade Records, who had licensed their recorded output from 1997 to 20 05. This was to be a fresh start for Criminal, who had matured and honed the ir style to perfection. The new Criminal album is like a breath of fresh air at a ti me when the metal scene is in danger of choking on its own pretentiousness. Recorded at CR IMINAL bassist Danny Biggin’s HVR Studios in Suffolk, UK, “Fear Itself ” sounds like putting Exodus, Carcass, Napalm Death and Sick Of It All through a meat grinder. With a “no bullshit” approach to recording, the band purposely avoided the vices of modern metal production such as samples, quantizing and amp simulators. The striking artwork by renowned Romanian artist Costin Chioreanu (At The Gates, Arch Enemy, Mayhem, etc.) perfectly represents the bleak, dystopian atmosphere of the lyrics, which denounce warmongering, misinformation, exploitation and other ills of modern society. A metal band with a hardcore attitude, Criminal’s longevity is a testament to their honesty and passion. In it for all the right reasons.