CRACK UP, Heads Will Roll (1998, Nuclear Blast)
This is the first skull in the Skullection to sport “cauliflower ear,” a common affliction of wrestlers (real wrestlers, not the Hulk Hogan type entertainers). Overall, this is just the kind of imagery people who wear Affliction gear might have gotten psyched up about before Affliction came along. But wait, look closer: the skull appears to have been impaled within a tightly-clamped circular prison. He is in the process of committing arson and breaking free of his shackles. It’s becoming clear now: this imagery is Crack Up’s commentary on Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, their own manifesto of sorts, which also exalts the fall of the bourgeoisie, a fall which will set into motion a glorious new day for the proletariat, that they may loose their chains in revolutionary reconstitution and win back a world that is theirs to gain, the defeat of exchange value and the reclaiming of personal worth. No idea what the naked babes are doing in the background, though. Marx didn’t say anything about that.
Crack Up are one of these late ’90s German bands who began playing death metal then pretty quickly evolved into what is known by the unfortunate moniker of “death ‘n’ roll.” This is their third album, and it sounds as you’d expect: fat grooves and tones with a growler grunting along in his best Lemmy-meets-Matti Karki impersonation. It sounds like they’re covering Xysma’s entire Deluxe album without any trace of the perverse attitude and left-field panache that made Xysma so special. It’s not the worst “death ‘n’ roll” ever, and there are even a few riffs that you have to grudgingly admit you were shaking your head and tapping you foot to (“The Assassin”). There are, of course, a number of dumb-ass butt-stompin’ riffs tailor-made for low-IQ metal neanderthals. They cover tunes by Dictators and Turbonegro, too, which probably tells you all you need to know about whether you’re going to like this or not. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess Crack Up was a pretty lame death metal band in its infancy.
— Friar Wagner