Style: Thrash Metal
Release Date: 9 Aug 2019
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Teutonic thrash legends Destruction are back with their fourteenth original studio album (I'm excluding the two Thrash Anthems re-records) and, while I can't call it one of their best, it's a heck of a long way from their worst (there are reasons why even the band have disowned the ironically named The Least Successful Human Cannonball).
It actually felt a little underwhelming on a first listen, but then I turned the volume up and let it clean me out on a second time through. I couldn't quite figure it out, because Born to Perish is a blistering opener and none of these tracks are bad. Maybe the problem is that the first few tracks feel a little too similar.
As a long term Destruction fan (I played Eternal Devastation to death when it came out and I still pull out the Live Without Sense album pretty often), I'm aware that they're hardly the most progressive thrash band on the planet and they tend to just do what they do, live or recorded, but the first three tracks feel a little close and Rotten doesn't help, given that its chorus of "Rotten to the Core" can't help but bring Overkill's song of that name to mind and pale in comparison.
At least Rotten tries something different. So does Filthy Wealth, though it sounds familiar from the outset. Metallica's Jump in the Fire is part of it but there's something else too that I can't place (maybe a little Electro-Violence in the vocal line). Butchered for Life keeps up the variety with a quieter start that makes me realise just how much Schmier sounds like Alice Cooper in this style. It's actually quite cool.
Destruction are always at their best when playing fast, though. Sure, there are nuances allowed by a mid-pace that work pretty well but, when they're in their groove, they blister like few bands can. In fact, the precise moment when I realised how old and out of shape I am came when I hit the pit for an encore of Bestial Invasion a couple of years ago. How can anyone not go wild to a song as perfect as that?
Anyway, Tyrants of the Netherworld is my choice for the highlight here, with Born to Perish and a few other fast songs close on its heels. Ratcatcher had no effect on me first time through but really starts to stand out on further listens too. I look forward to hearing some of this material live when they come through Arizona again.
The band are half old and half new. Mike Sifringer is still there on guitar as he's been since the very beginning in 1982. Schmier is there too on bass and lead vocals, which makes two thirds of the founder members; he's played on most of the albums that the band will admit to. The new fish are Randy Black on drums, who's only the sixth drummer in almost four decades, and a second guitarist from Switzerland by the name of Damir Eskić. They're good hires, based on this album.
The oddest decision doesn't revolve around the line-up but the chose of the cover to close the album out. I wasn't expecting a Tygers of Pan Tang song, but Hellbound does sound pretty good in Destruction's hands, maybe a little melodic in the chorus, but hey. It's a good song and a good cover and I have a lot of respect for a band shining a spotlight on the Tygers.
tl;dr version: this is good stuff, even if it isn't great stuff, and I hope to see this line-up live soon.