Released: 2006, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Formed way back in 1992, Cretin wallowed in limbo for two years before bassist Matt Widener and drummer Col Jones went on to play with Exhumed and Cretin was put on hold for nearly ten years. Once the pair left Exhumed, the band reformed and cranked out FREAKERY, an ugly scourge on the grindcore genre that is replete with lo-fi, DIY production and muddy riffing circa early Napalm Death. What separates Cretin from the rest of the incomprehensible grind masses is that they forego the gurgled vocal style and 200-bpm blasting in favor of brutal, yet moderately intelligible vocals and a riff-based presentation that is not without its catchiness. Cretin also forgoes emulating the technical wizardry of newer tech-grind stalwarts like Misery Index and Gadget and instead goes right for the throat with an over-the-top, primal, offensive rooted firmly in the old-school grind manifesto of Repulsion, Napalm Death, Carcass, Nasum and Terrorizer, only with the influence of death metal and punk bleeding in. The end result is a much more interesting, engaging and headbangingly groovy half hour of mayhem than your standard exercise in grindcore.
A melodic-at-the-core riff opens “Tooth and Claw” before a full-bore attack is launched and the Cretanic assault blindsides the listener with a chaotic, hyperblast of bare-bones grind. Lyrically, FREAKERY is wrought with humorous, albeit off-putting, phrasing which is certainly worth checking out. From the lurking madman of “Tazer” and the crudeness of “Cockfight” (it’s got nothing to do with poultry), to the gender confusion of “Daddy’s Little Girl” and animal rapings of “A Fowl Fetish” (this one is, sadly, all about poultry), there are some seriously depraved characters at work here but it is all done completely tongue-in-cheek and ties in with the album title. In the same three-piece lineup as Carcass, Dan Martinez’ roaring vocals and jackhammer riffs thunder over the punchy rhythm section of Widener and Jones. The band opted for a warts-and-all production leaving the errors and miscues on the recording to humanize it, which isn’t as bad as it sounds. Clearly, the members of Cretin are able musicians and FREAKERY is hardly a sloppy mess. Instead, the approach shows musicians comfortable enough to eschew the slick production and give its fans a fair representation of what happens in the studio as well as what to expect in a live setting.
Given the fact that all but five of the sixteen tracks on FREAKERY clock in under two minutes, it is difficult to really acknowledge any standouts, and grind isn’t exactly ear candy anyway, but when taken as a whole, the Cretin experience is a rewarding one and certainly worthy of merit. The band had almost fifteen years to hone its craft and FREAKERY happily takes the listener back to the early Earache roster with short, politically incorrect tales of social misfits that rage from start to finish.