Destruction - Inventor of evil 3.5/5

Reviewed: 12-30-05


1. Soul collector
2. The defiance will remain
3. The alliance of hellhoundz
4. No mans land
5. The calm before the storm
6. The chosen ones
7. Dealer of hostility
8. Under surveillance
9. Seeds of hate
10. Twist of fate
11. Killing machine
12. Memories of nothingness

The tradition of high quality thrash metal runs almost as deep in German culture as bratwurst and schnitzel, Paulaner and Warsteiner, or Berliners and strudel. The list of Teutonic thrash luminaries is both lengthy and impressive, from the wacky beer nuts in Tankard to the precision melodic thrash attack of Paradox to the breathless barrage of early Angel Dust to the more modern, Slayerized blitzkrieg of Dew-Scented to more obscure bands like Risk and Assassin. But, rightly or wrongly, every discussion of German thrash metal must eventually return to "the Big 3": Kreator, Destruction and Sodom, all heavyweights from the 80s that are still going strong today. Kreator are producing arguably the finest metal of their storied career, with both 'Violent revolution' and 'Enemy of god' representing the apex of updated, but still old-school, Euro-thrash in the new millennium. Meanwhile, Tom Angelripper's merry crew in Sodom, perpetually a few steps behind their colleagues of the triumvirate in my mind, have improved drastically since their dodgy output in the early days.

And now, whither goes Destruction? Always sporting a more technical and twisted take on Teutonic thrash than their high profile brethren in Kreator and Sodom, this 3-piece has experienced a number of creative peaks and valleys since reforming in 1999. To be sure, their reunion output has included some classic cuts on par with anything in their catalog ("Nailed to the cross" and "The butcher strikes back" come to mind), but they have also taken flak for at times coming across as too cold, mechanical, and uninspired in their delivery, sacrificing melodies and killer riffs for rote brutality and technicality in a misguided attempt to appeal to a new generation at the expense of their crusty 30-something fan base. Destruction's confusion and indecision in charting their future musical direction was underscored by a band-sponsored Internet poll inquiring as to what kind of songs they should pen for their 2005 opus, 'Inventor of evil', with options ranging from "total old-school" to "more melodic" to "more technical skills". Not surprisingly, the fans voted for ditching the technicality in favor of an 'Infernal overkill'-styled old-school assault.

Destruction wisely heeded their following, as 'Inventor of evil' is more unapologetically distilled from the trio's legendary 80s recordings than any of their previous reunion material. Particular care has been taken in crafting exceptional, memorable headbanging guitar riffs, as 6-stringer Mike effortlessly turns out one classic riff after another, perhaps a bit less complex than what he's played on the last few CDs but much more satisfying in their staying and slaying power. Even more importantly, Destruction have managed to mitigate the dreaded filler/indifferent song syndrome that has plagued their other reunion releases. Nearly every track (with a couple of exceptions) is first-rate and feels like it's there for some reason other than to fill space. And it unquestionably helps that many compositions on 'Inventor of evil' have a strong sense of individuality, keeping the songs from running together in an indistinguishable mess. "Twist of fate" is 3 minutes of 80s thrash perfection, opener "Soul collector" borrows from the opening riff of "Hell awaits" but delivers a potent punch, and the melancholy acoustic beginning to "Calm before the storm" recalls some of the proggy experimentation of 'Release from agony' before unleashing a riffing firestorm from Mike. Elsewhere, "The defiance will remain" is destined to be remembered as an all-time great Destruction sing-a-long anthem, with a particularly vicious performance from vocalist/bassist Schmier, and "The alliance of hellhoundz" cleverly (albeit chaotically) fuses vocal performances from Schmier plus 9 guest singers as diverse as Peavy Wagner, Doro, Shagrath, and Messiah Marcolin into a convincing plea for metal unity.

Some may accuse Destruction of dumbing down their approach for the sake of commercial gain, but let's face it: The market for old-school thrash metal is not burgeoning. Your average Kamelot fan won't go near these guys. At this stage in the game, Destruction are hardly the next big thing. Personally, I applaud Destruction for wisely recognizing that their core audience yearns for tunes in the vein of "Mad butcher" and "Total desaster", and going out of their way to accommodate those preferences. 'Inventor of evil' may fall short of 'Infernal overkill' and 'Eternal devastation', but to these ears it eclipses Destruction's 3 earlier reunion-era CDs and cements the band's place as a viable force in the thrash scene circa 2005. The Butcher strikes back, indeed!




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