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September 2005
Released: 2005, Morbid Records
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen

"Mindless, dead-heavy, bone-crushing, strongly testosterone-filled, muscular, apocalyptic, blood-stopping, ear-splitting, etc. etc. etc. ..."

Here´s just a few pretty suitable yet descriptive words that could be used for this relatively ´new´ Norwegian Death Metal patrol, named Criterion. When I, for the very first time, heard one MP3 of their songs off the album kind of like ´accidentally´ when surfing through the Internet without being any target-orientated to find anything special (ah yes, the Internet porn is always such a cool thing tho... ;=), I was like: "What the HELL...??! This stuff TRULY FUCKIN´ SHREDS...!!". So that's how I found Criterion... and let´s just say that about a week later, the band´s debut CD THE DOMINANT was dropped in my mailbox.

I don´t know if some of you may care or not, but Criterion has already been around since 1992, so the band actually isn´t THAT ´new´ on the vast map of Death Metal as they have already got lots of history behind them during their 13-year of existence - having recorded only a couple of demos behind them, plus one album which happens to be the one in my CD-player right now, in my honest opinion, their absolutely brilliant debut album titled THE DOMINANT.

Criterion moves somewhere near by the territories of Morbid Angel, Immolation, and Death; also spicing their stuff up with some nearly invisible hints from the Norwegian masters of black arts Emperor and even Dimmu Borgir - added with a quite modern yet still classic kinda ´90s-tinged Death Metal sound. Kind of like a mix of both, I would say. They don´t exactly rip any band off - I mean, not THAT clearly, but of course you cannot avoid making these comparisons to Criterion´s heavy and aggressive Death Metal style either. The band has clearly yet undoubtedly have their roots deeply dipped into the American Death Metal style which is the style I love most anyway. Kim´s guitar parts remind me heavily of what Chuck Schuldiner created for Death riff, - and rhythm - and solo-wise. Even Kim himself has mentioned and admitted Chuck as a very influential person to his own playing style, so it´s no surprising at all if Kim´s playing sounds the way it tends to sound, hugely influenced by "The Evil" Chuck of the mighty Death.

Also, as much as one is able to hear Death´s influence all over Criterion´s songs, an experienced Death Metal -consumer can easily spot influences both from Morbid Angel (just listen to those goddammit riffs f.ex. in a song called "Obliteration" and you will furiously scream me the letters: T-R-E-Y-F-U-C-K-I-N-G-A-Z-A-G-T-H-O-T-H!!) as well as from Immolation (John simply MUST be a nickname of Immo´s Ross Dolan! John sounds deceptively like Ross at times anyway...), out of Criterion´s sound on this album. I gotta admit, this is a throughly brilliant Death Metal release from the Criterion -bunch; their songs reach almost all of the elements of an undying catchiness somewhat even too easily as far as the song structures are concerned. The band has very well proved on this album that they have an ability to write strong songs that capture ears of listeners easily and effortlessly. And that´s how it should be in the first place.

So, what on earth are you still waiting for? Just get THE DOMINANT for yourself immediately because I know you cannot help liking the album, assuming that you have got a pair of healthy ears for a professionally done and fantastically churned out Death metal, of course! ;=)
Track Listing

01. Demoniac Replacement
02. The Slayer
03. Obliteration
04. Last Breath
05. Blackened Memories
06. Denial
07. Awaken
08. Suffocation
09. The Dominant


John R. Urbanski - Vocals
Kenneth Skårholen - Drums
Kim Nybakken - Guitars
René Johansen - Bass

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by Luxi Lahtinen

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