Genre: Heavy / Thrash, Horror Thrash
Country: Norway
Label: Crime Records
Year: 2017

The third full length album of Norwegian metal outfit Critical Solution, who are fresher and more upbeat than ever before, is now a reality. Marching along the path of concept albums, ‘Barbara The Witch‘ was released in late April via Crime Records. Twelve tracks in total with a total duration of almost one hour promise to take us to places far away from Greece, to Helleland, unraveling the legend of Barbara Belladonna, a story that originates from the depths of 1600.

The album opens with a grim introduction with female opera vocals, which obviously is set to build the atmosphere of what’s to follow. In fact, there is a small narrative that introduces the listener to the setting, time and the faces of the story about to be unrolled as the album unfolds. Without special fanfare, the “regular” tracks of the album come crushing is, offering intense moments with their fast Thrash, instantly attracting our interest, since we are not talking about just a regular Thrash album. We would say that “Barbara The Witch” is a mixture of classical thrash and heavy metal forms and structures, beautifully balanced, giving time to each other to express itself. At the same time, we distinguish a bit of ambience that ‘darkens’ the compositions as appropriate to unleash the myth. Listening to the album, the changes in rhythms, the vocal lines, and understanding the overall evolution of the album, I would say to someone who has never listened to Critical Solution before that the main joints on which the band relied were Metallica, Testament, Mercyful Fate / King Diamond and Misfits. There are times when the vocals are reminiscent of Hetfield during the thrash moments and King Diamond – not in the high-pitched way, but in the theatrical rendering – during the heavy moments; the thrash riffs seem to have come out of Legacy / New Order / Practice What You Preach the heavy metal ones would fit comfortably inn a King Diamond album, while everywhere a musical and visual / aesthetical Misfits essence is lingering (if you take a look at the video clip for ‘Barbara The Witch’ which you can find below, you will understand what I mean). The album closes with a circle – like pattern, with an outro that’s creepy and sinister, which with its narrative completes the legend of Barbara Belladonna.

In general, it is a fairly satisfying album and very interesting, since it contains beautiful ideas and a seductive story that has a lot to offer. Of course, just like any concept album, it should be heard in its entirety, from start to finish, since listening to individual tracks will ruin the story. That works for me somewhat negatively, as I like listening to individual tracks, but this is a purely personal matter. It’s worth your attention and it’s definitely a nice investment.

4,5/6

The physical form of the album comes with a second CD, including the following covers:
Locked Up in Snow (King Diamond’s Black Rose), Let It Die (Ozzy Osbourne), Killed by Death (Motörhead), Iron Man (Black Sabbath), Speed King (Deep Purple), Gypsy (Uriah Heep).
Watch the clip for ‘Barbara The Witch’ here: