Monday, December 29, 2008

Agents of Destruction

While themes of destruction aren't unique to extreme music, the death drive has willing musical wingmen in heavy metal and grindcore. This post takes a look at two recent discs from bands that enshrine destruction in their very names.

Destruction - D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. (Candlelight Records, 2008)

German thrash elders Destruction celebrated 25 years of existence in 2008. That is fucking IMPRESSIVE. Set aside their decade of Schmier-less desert-wandering and think about it: what have you done for 25 years straight other than eat, sleep and shit? On Destruction's tenth album D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N., the youthful mania of Eternal Devastation and Release From Agony has hardened into the furrowed-brow discontent of a bunch of middle-aged metal revolutionaries with a couple more axes to grind. If the average BPM has dropped, the anger hasn't. It's just channeled into more technically accomplished, better-produced and beefier songs. About half of them rage with killer riffs and smoking solos (including guest shots from UFO's Vinnie Moore, Exodus's Gary Holt and Annihilator's Jeff Waters). The rest flail with middling tempos that don't quite warrant the album's big-ass production. 

Destruction - "Devolution"
Destruction - "The Violation of Morality"

Age magnifies the silliness of Schmier's pubertal yelp and the obnoxious gang vocals that echo a few too many choruses here. That's all acceptable as part of the band's charm. Let's just forget the pathetic self-referential nostalgia that creeps in to "Last Desperate Scream:" "The skills of musical destruction were our aim/We didn't wanna fit in their goddamned fuckin' frame..." and later "Dismissed by all the mainstream media/Now we are a part of the encyclopedia." Gagmeister! Really, the big thing holding back D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. from reaching the heights of Destruction's early output is its density. Jakob Hansen's sound job feels awfully compacted for a three-piece with such taut songs, and as a result the album feels far more overwhelming than its ten tracks suggest. Oughta sound great on the road though. 

Total Fucking Destruction - Peace, Love and Total Fucking Destruction (Enucleation, 2008)

You gotta imagine Richard Hoak as one satisfied motherfucker, creatively-speaking. As drummer for Brutal Truth he was 1/4 of one of the wooliest/seriousest grindcore bands ever to scorch the planet. As creative mastermind/drummer of Total Fucking Destruction, he's got an outlet for his dada side. The part of him that insists that a critical mass of songs (14 out of 23 here) be kept under a minute long, and that blastbeats lead perfectly well in to Rush riffs and free-funk freakouts, and that three songs from the last album require reprise on this one. And that "Fuck the internet/Fuck MySpace/Fuck all the fucking e-mail that you send" qualifies as commentary.

Total Fucking Destruction - "Bio-Satanic Terroristic Attack" 
Total Fucking Destruction - "Grindfreak Railroad"
Total Fucking Destruction - "Necro-Anarchist"

It's all purposeful according to Hoak, who says "Our songs are true stories of life in the global/techno/military/entertainment complex and represent the future/present of human civilization." And whether you take him at his word or view the half-retarded, half-brilliant diatribes that comprise Peace, Love and Total Fucking Destruction's lyric sheet as nonsense, you gotta admit that this is one provocative beast of an album. Just like the sandal-wearing child soldier punk on the cover, it's juvenile and friendly-looking and totally bloodthirsty all at once.  

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