CRIMENA - "Chapter One : Divine Betrayal" album review

Bob (vocals); Macarena (rhythm g); Radu (lead g); Cristi (drums); Vali (bass g)

Groove Metal may seem to have lost some it’s might in the main frame during the course of the last decade, it fell a bit into the shadows of the days when Pantera were scorching the realm or after Lamb of God took the torch and kept delivering, but, it still somehow seems that the sub genre has fallen back to the underground pit from where they all start from. So it ain’t no need for drama because there’re still good groove metal outfits out there in the dark, that are fighting the fight and walking the walk to make a come-up.

And one of them may be a southern Romanian five pack that goes by the name of CRIMENA (“hidden” – Greek), hailing from the city of Craiova, they have been burning full throttle since their inception that occurred nearly 4 years ago – what started out as more of a joke, continued with 3 months of jam sessions, rehearsals and line-up changes and it culminated with the band’s first gig. Receiving positive feedback for the violent flavour of groove metal that incorporates elements from icons such as The Haunted, Pantera, LoG or Sepultura, CRIMENA grew after every stage appearance; constantly gigging and touring, being present at every minor and major festival in the country, always giving 200% - it was a matter of time before the band would become an elite name in the local underground.

And so they did! However, the release of their debut album “Chapter One: Divine Betrayal” (March 2016) came with an up and down – they signed with The Leaders Records, but witnessed the departure, due to personal reasons, of their original vocalist Cosmin Gramescu (credited for the lyrics and vocals on the album). Fortunately, Indonesian born Bagus “Bob” Stesa, who’s been living in Craiova for several years but without any local notoriety, quickly stepped out of the shadows and filled the void. His vocals (soon to be heard on official recordings) blended perfectly with the band’s music, developing good chemistry on stage. Due to his origins, Bob helped the band attract attention from various Asian music media outlets, bands and fans alike. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see CRIMENA touring far East anytime soon.

  • Album release party. Slightly right former vocalist Cosmin (The Black Dahlia Murder hoodie) and current vocalist Bob. Still one big family. 

“Chapter One: Divine Betrayal”. A bit of a funny story is that the name of the album was chosen even before the band’s name. 

So, the fact that this record is finally here is an obvious testament of the album’s conceptual approach and its integrity, being fully thought out from day 1.

The artwork - God hanged by the gates of heaven - clearly indicates the lyrical focus – religion. Organised religion, not just Christianity. 

CRIMENA wishes to expose all the wrongs that humanity has faced due to fundamentalist religion through time.

As the intro song “Quemadero” kicks in, you'll encounter an excerpt from world famous ethologist, author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, who was delighted to have his voice on the record. Considering the story behind the name of the album and the lyrical content, it's clear that what we have here is a conceptual album - all tracks have a story and a meaning - Quemadero de Tablada was an execution site for the first inquisitors built in 1418 in Seville, Spain; and it's architect (being a follower of Judaism) was the first victim of the Inquisition. Now that's some trippy shit!

Jumping up the ladder to another track with a self describing name that is "Muttawwa" - referring to the controversial mutaween (Islamic religious police), often criticised for radical behaviour in enforcing the Sharia law in respect to religious behaviour. Straight up and outspoken lyrically, very upbeat, this song comes right off the bat with a rugged and devastating approach.

"The Bitter Pill" is the band's first single song unleashed prior to the album, giving a good insight of what would come after, featured on BlankTV, it quickly became a fan favourite.

In terms of musical characteristics, as previously mentioned, CRIMENA took what they wanted from the giants of the genre and mixed it up into a style that is still in the process of becoming thoroughly their own. As the vocals incline towards Randy Blythe's style, there will definitely be a new approach on the future releases due to the change in the vocal department. Still, the instrumental realm is filled with great displays of rawness, catchy hooks and grooves and a dominating sound that'll kick your teeth out; and it gets worse when experienced live mode. I know, I've seen it one too many times.

"Gospel (of the unbeliever)" is the second track honoured with a music video, it's my very favourite track of the record and the video (compared to the DIY one from "The Bitter Pill") clearly shows the transition from an underground band with little to no budget to a group that is aiming to turn pro. As far as the song goes, CRIMENA once again aim to expose their violent and upbeat blend of groove, culminating with a solo that's definitely the spearhead of track. Props to lead guitarist Radu Zugravu for his ingenuity not just regarding solos and riffs, but overall songwriting - this dude is a maniac.

All in all, the musical aspect is just one of the main positive characteristics that define CRIMENA. Sometimes the journey is as much as important as the destination (result) - the band was born out of a joke, but ironically it became a great asset in times of need for the local scene in Craiova, which was truly dead and buried at that particular time - no significant active bands, no venues that would host rock/metal gigs, no public. It was the person who you would least expect, the bass player (Vali), that took matters into his own hands trying to convince venue owners to let him host gigs, and thus build a new scene from scratch.
4 Years later, Craiova is one of the most "alive" cities in the country when it comes heavy metal music - very young and numerous public - bands that go there (either from Romania or abroad) always have words of praise for the never boring group of people that attend. And most of the credit should clearly go to the southern Romanian 5 pack.

"Chapter One: Divine Betrayal" is available for purchase on google playitunes, amazon, cdbaby.

Bob - Vocals
Radu - Lead Guitar
Robert "Macarena" - Rhythm Guitar
Vali - Bass
Cristi - Drums


Kevin Junk Kidd

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