Deutschland is the fabled breeding ground for some of the most prolific artists in music history. From the symphonic bombast of Richard Wagner to classic Heavy Metal staples Accept to Secrets of the Moon, a truly out-of-the-box Black Metal band, there is a distinguished air of regality to the music forged in this European nation. It is as if creativity is in the very oxygen one breathes in that storied land. With such a rich heritage, standards are held high for bands – as they should be.
Enter Destruction. The band formed in 1982 in Weil am Rhein and were originally known as Knight of Demon. In those days, Metal was quickly gaining momentum worldwide due to the commercial success of stalwarts such as Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and fellow countrymen, Scorpions, but it was in the underground where a massive fire was being stoked that would soon engulf the world in pure pyromantic flames of madness. Venom took the established Metal format and dirtied it up with raw, filthy aggression and a Punk Rock attitude. Along with Mercyful Fate, they overtly endorsed the Dark Lord himself with horror-themed lyrics and blasphemous themes. Stateside, Slayer was upping the ante on Venom playing louder, faster, and even more over the top with reckless abandon. This evil brew of influences from Metal’s burgeoning yet lethally potent underground paved the way for Destruction.
The band’s 1984 now-classic demo, Bestial Invasion of Hell, set the standard for their emerging style and the following year, their debut full-length, Infernal Overkill, furthered the band’s vision. Throughout the decade, Destruction toiled in the underground steadily climbing the ranks by amassing a legion of loyal fans. Alongside Kreator, Sodom, and Tankard, the band was part of the elite Big Four of German Thrash. They managed to methodically take the style of Slayer and make it more anthemic, tectonic, and also much more melodic as well without sacrificing an ounce of intensity or integrity. Though the 1990s are generally regarded as a dark time for Destruction, the band was reborn with newfound vigor and passion in 2000 with the release of All Hell Breaks Loose via Nuclear Blast, and ever since, they have been consistently issuing solid albums chocked full of genuine Thrash classics.
The band now stand ready to release their latest opus of unbridled mayhem and headbanging metallic fury titled Born to Perish. The subject matter is familiar, something all mortals have to stare at squarely in the face whilst attempting to make meaning of this existence. Perhaps the late great Peter Steele said it best in the naming of one of his albums Life is Killing Me. Regardless, Destruction capitalize on the bottled rage that comes with being a human on this planet of suffering by creating a new album that showcases what they do well in a highly polished though still deadly format that is impossible for any true Metal fan to dislike. In fact, it is a proper kick in the teeth showing the overabundant masses of Thrash clones throughout the scene how things should really be done.
From the very first moments of the first and title track, it is evident that the album will be incredibly intense. The introduction is full of percussive triplets which build the anticipation by aptly and deftly setting the stage for the coming chaos. After a fiery, vehemently murderous solo, a smashing, pulverizing breakdown is unleashed in the latter half of the song. Totally unexpected, parts like these are a keen reminder of the inherent appeal of Thrash Metal as presented by masters of the beloved genre.
“Rotten,” the fourth track, is catapulted by a shining, epic riff. “I am more evil than Satan because I’m a selfish prick,” proclaims bassist/vocalist Schmier over a hammering, emphatic bass line. There is a catchiness to the song that somehow parallels old school Megadeth before that band became whatever they are now. The picking pattern of the main riff is highly syncopated giving the song a signature bounce which helps it to truly stand out. The sixth track, “Butchered for Life,” is initially a bit of a shock as it begins as a ballad with a somber, mellow main riff accompanied by a vigorous, lively bass line dancing in and around the melody, but then again, Destruction have always been a band unafraid to take risks and further push the envelope. Things do get heavy and by way of the contrast, the heaviness is that much more obliterating and punishing. “We Breed Evil,” the eighth track, contains another massively pummeling breakdown that is propelled by the bass crunching underneath the militantly precise guitars.
The production on Born to Perish is what absolutely seals the deal. The band’s classic Thrash sound is definitely retained but is injected with a lethal dose of steroids. The bass has a rich, rugged sound as it amply holds down the low end while also cutting through the mix with just the right amount of dirt on top. The drums truly shine with a full sound which gives equal weight to each piece of the kit. The toms especially have a thunderous boom justly conveying the intensity with which they are hit. Schmier’s vocals retain their signature raspy drawl sounding as good as ever, if not better. Sharp, lacerating, white-hot guitars encapsulate the sound with a choking grip. Each note picked retains such a clear articulation that astute guitar players will be able to distinguish the difference between down and up picking – that is clarity!
Some kudos should be given to the label, Nuclear Blast, for releasing yet another Thrash Metal gem alongside the earlier-released latest from Death Angel. Destruction did all the work, though, and have effectively stood their ground solidifying 2019 as a Teutonic Thrash golden year. Though they do stretch things a bit, the band thankfully have not deviated too far from their comfort zone releasing a succinct, well-crafted album sure to be lauded worldwide, one that will be the catalyst of countless injuries to the necks of Thrash Metal maniacs across the board. Thrash ‘til death!