While the Kreator album I reviewed last week came out in June, this Destruction album is actually a few months old, having been released in April while I was travelling in the UK. I was always going to catch up with it, because Destruction are my favourite of the Teutonic Big Three, and it's almost appropriate that I did it this way round because anyone who didn't like the slower material on the Kreator album will absolutely not have that problem here. This is a Destruction album and it does what Destruction albums do. The catch is that, while Diabolical is the thrash album that Hate über alles mostly wasn't and it's more consistent to boot, I'm not going to rate it any higher.
The reason for that is that, while it starts off really well, with a neatly building intro and a stellar title track, it doesn't seem interested in varying the formula much at any point. Sure, there are a few tracks, like Tormented Soul or Whorefication, that slow down to a mid tempo that's still faster than the Kreator tracks that went all traditional metal, and they work well. However, that's about it and I wonder if the folk who didn't like Kreator trying new stuff on their album will be happy to discover that Destruction don't on this one or not.
To be fair, I'm enjoying this one more with each repeat listen. My first impressions were mostly to acknowledge that this was a Destruction album and it sounded exactly like any Destruction album should and that was enough for me. However, it faded as it ran on, perhaps because the best songs show up early, not just that excellent title track but also the quintessential Hope Dies Last, which is textbook Teutonic thrash, and the one between them, No Faith in Humanity. With repeat listens, the guitarwork stands out even more, because it's clear in the mix and the solos are excellent.
What's weird is that Mike Sifringer is not responsible for any of that guitarwork. While most folk think of Schmier as the focal point in Destruction, he wasn't the only founder member to stay with the band for a long time and he wasn't the one who never took a break. Remember that Schmier was fired in 1989 and remained gone for a full decade, albeit not a particularly memorable one for them. Mike Sifringer was also a founder member and he never left until 2021, apparently without a statement. That timing is really odd, given that this year marks Destruction's 40th anniversary, but maybe it was important to him in a different way.
Now, Sifringer did shift from lead to rhythm guitar a few years ago, when Damir Eskić joined, but he'd done that a couple of times in the past too, whenever they bulked up from a trio to a quartet. His replacement here is Martin Furia, who's an Argentinian based in Belgium, so I presume that's him providing the crunchy riffs behind Eskić's solos. They make a very good pairing indeed and it's odd to think of how tight they are, given that it's such a new partnership. I'd call out the fantastic midsection of Hope Dies Last on that front, as well as the entirety of Servant of the Beast, but the quality runs far beyond just those peaks. Thank you, Mike, though, for four decades of music that you've given us.
The question I have is whether such a major change to their line-up is going to spur a new era and, if so, whether that's going to be a good thing or a bad one, given that Schmier is likely to make all the key decisions going forward on his own. Their previous album was solid but unremarkable and this one is just as consistent but better, albeit not so much to warrant an 8/10 instead of a 7. These songs feel a little closer to quintessential Destruction, taking the old NWOBHM style and giving it a serious dose of speed and a little more punk attitude. The bonus cover on Born to Perish was of a Tygers of Pan Tang song and this one's of a GBH classic, City Baby Attacked by Rats.
I'm going to be interested to see what my thrasher son thinks of this. I prefer Destruction and he's more of a Kreator fan, but I have a feeling he's going to like this more than Hate über alles. I have little doubt that I'm going to come back to this one more than Kreator's new one, but I think more than Born to Perish too. Let's see if I end up bumping it up to an 8/10. The only reason I'm not right now is because not everything is up to the standards of the highlights. I think that'll keep it at an 8/10 but maybe they'll continue to grow on me. Only time will tell.