Destruction

Picture of Destruction

Sentence Of Death EP

Destruction - Sentence Of Death EP ©1984 Steamhammer
1. Intro
2. Total Desaster
3. Black Mass
4. Mad Butcher
5. Satan's Vengeance
6. Devil's Soldiers

The first EP from Germany's Destruction was, shall we say, a cute but quite clumsy affair. Granted, as with many albums being heard a couple decades after their release, it's hard to absorb the album and have the same impact as one might have back in 1984. But in the words of Dennis Green, "They are who we thought they were."

The short album finds the young trio sounding quite exuberant, but still very rough around the edges, especially in a technical sense. The drumming of Tommy Sandmann is particularly ugly during fills and the band generally doesn't quite sound like they're all playing the same song at the same. Close, but not quite. However, countless punk bands that helped pave the way for non-technical virtuosos also had the same problem and do you hear people bitching about the technical aspects of the Circle Jerks? However, metal is more renowned for instrumental prowess so perhaps the argument has some merit. But I digress.

Sentence of Death's biggest problem is the songs themselves are somewhat pedestrian. "Mad Butcher", which would reappear on its own EP down the line, simply sounds like the band hadn't mastered their own tune yet. The other tracks are speedy, rumbly and generally forgettable. But it certainly did establish the musical base for Destruction.

This EP did open the initial door for Destruction, who would subsequently spend time as one of the "big three" thrash bands in Germany, along with Sodom and Kreator (both of whom also got off to equally rough starts). Besides, one has to admire how incredibly "metal" the band looks on the album cover. Spikes, upside down crosses, sinister large hair, black leather - this band absolutely looked the part of an evil thrash metal band. That almost makes this EP more noteworthy than it actually is.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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Infernal Overkill

Destruction - Infernal Overkill ©1985 Steamhammer/SPV
1. Invincible Force
2. Death Trap
3. The Ritual
4. Tormentor
5. Bestial Invasion
6. Thrash Attack
7. Antichrist
8. Black Death

Representing a definite leap forward in their progression as a band, 1985's Infernal Overkill finds Destruction refining their sound and coming across as considerably more accomplished musicians. Granted, I'm not suggesting they had progressed to the level of a Steve Vai, but there was certainly a modicum of improvement from their first EP. Of note, the rhythm section sounds like they're usually on the same page, which eliminates a lot of the clumsy aspects of Sentence of Death. Infernal Overkill also provides a bump up in terms of songwriting, with several songs from this album going down as all-time Destruction classics: "Bestial Invasion" in particular.

However, despite improvements across the board, Infernal Overkill still doesn't completely strike me as a mandatory thrash metal find for the 80s. The production is still pretty weak, an affliction the band suffered with throughout their first phrase of existence. Schmier's vocals are lacking any sort of dynamics, although it can be argued his style was part of their charm. And although the band had improved their technical abilities, Infernal Overkill still isn't going to rewrite the books on virtuosity in thrash metal.

CD reissues pair this LP with the Sentence of Death EP. Although it's interesting to hear these albums to experience 80s thrash metal, they shouldn't be elevated to the status of essential requirements for anyone's collection.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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Eternal Devastation

Destruction - Eternal Devastation ©1986 Steamhammer
1. Curse The Gods
2. Confound Games
3. Life Without Sense
4. United By Hatred
5. Eternal Ban
6. Upcoming Devastation
7. Confused Mind

Destruction's second LP, Eternal Devastation, continued the band's moderate progression in ability. However, as with much of the first few recordings by the German trio, there are multiple flaws with production and the actual playing. Although weak production was something many metal bands suffered through during the 80s, Destruction's sound was reduced to a fairly thin, tiny sound. Metal is defined by being over the top and as it turns out, Eternal Devastation's production makes it seem more like a five year old peering up over the edge of a coffee table.

Regardless, songwriting again showed some improvement on the LP. "Curse the Gods" and "Eternal Ban" are just a couple examples of the band growing as songwriters. But as with most of the band's early material, it was given a new breath of life on the 1989 live release Live Without Sense, which featured two guitarists. The other bone of contention is Schmier's vocals, which never really did get any better over time. His shrill high pitched whine is comical at best. Granted, it's one of those things you just take as part of the whole with Destruction, particularly when the period of the band's existence without him (the 90s) is one the band tries to pretend never happened.

Eternal Devastation is an effort that shows some improvement over its predecessors, but still finds the band in need of more development. No doubt for many fans this record is regarded as a classic of the era, but it still leaves me wanting something more.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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Mad Butcher EP

Destruction - Mad Butcher EP ©1987 Steamhammer/SPV
1. Mad Butcher
2. The Damned
3. Reject Emotions
4. The Last Judgement

And this is where Destruction finally started to establish themselves as a band to be reckoned with.

Having replaced their drummer with "Olly" and adding a second guitarist ("Harry"), Destruction up the ante in terms of musicianship. The Mad Butcher EP apparently was recorded as a bit of a run-through for the band before putting together a full length release. And what a gem of an EP it is! Destruction reprises "Mad Butcher" from their first EP, Sentence of Death, giving it new life with better guitar playing and production. "The Damned" is a Plasmatics cover, showcasing the band's newfound ability to perform a slightly more complicated song arrangement. "Reject Emotions" is a new number that rumbles along quite merrily, discussing the pitfalls and foibles of a horny young man. Actually, it's one of those amusing instances of "English as a second language" resulting in some unintentionally funny lyrics. The final song is an atmospheric instrumental which shows off some guitar licks. One would think that the band was proud of their new guitar player.

Mad Butcher is one of my favorite moments in the Destruction catalogue. The musicianship and sound quality, though not perfect, had improved quite a bit over the preceding two full length releases and three of the four songs are quite impressive. CD reissues have paired this with Eternal Devastation, making it a fairly worthwhile addition to any fan of 80s thrash metal.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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Release From Agony

Destruction - Release From Agony ©1987 Steamhammer/SPV
1. Beyond Eternity
2. Release From Agony
3. Dissatisfied Existence
4. Sign Of Fear
5. Unconscious Ruins
6. Incriminated
7. Our Oppression
8. Survive To Die

Despite the addition of two talented new members (guitarist Harry Wilkins and drummer Oliver Kaiser), Release From Agony finds Destruction taking a couple steps backwards. Granted, it should be noted first and foremost the production on this album is not the most flattering. The guitars tend to sound like someone put foam padding over the cabinets and thing such as guitar solos seem grafted onto the mix, as opposed to be a seamless part of the music. In a nutshell, the album sounds clumsy, harkening back to the band's earliest efforts. The second major area of issue is the lack of progression in Schmier's vocals. Although no one will expect this guy to ever blossom into the second coming of Placido Domino, his effort here is occasionally just cartoonish, particularly reaching for a "high note". But the biggest flaw on Release From Agony is the fact half of the songs are entirely subpar. "Survive to Die", "Sign of Fear" and "Our Oppression" are utterly forgettable. In fact, it's best if you do forget them as quickly as possible to save your brain from the agony of their dreadfulness. The last two tracks on the album attempt too many "gang vocals", that common staple of 80s thrash metal and something that only Testament and Exodus should do to any degree. The weaker songs on the album are mostly just riffs whipping by at breakneck speed, never once attempting to be an interesting song. Of the better songs (such as "Unconscious Ruins"), the ones that appeared on Live Without Sense simply sound better and played with energy and fluidity.

Even back in the day, when I was a teenaged Destruction fanatic, Release From Agony left me feeling cold. It is by far the weakest of the era. Some of the band's earlier problems, such as weak production or musicianship that needed, shall we say, work, could be pinpointed on their inexperience and youth. Release From Agony should have been beyond those problems and as it stands, it is a disappointment.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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Live Without Sense

Destruction - Live Without Sense ©1989 Noise
1. Curse The Gods
2. Unconscious Ruins
3. Thrash Attack
4. Invincible Forces
5. Dissatisfied Existence
6. Reject Emotions
7. Eternal Ban
8. Mad Butcher
9. Pink Panther/Life Without Sense
10. In The Mood/Release From Agony
11. Bestial Invasion

In the Teutonic thrash heyday of the mid to late 80s, Destruction rode alongside Sodom and Kreator as the German leaders of the style. By today's standards, Destruction offered horribly thin production, some of the most unbearable high pitched, tuneless vocals and cliches of leather jackets, bullet belts and quite silly photo shoot poses. Regardless of their obvious flaws, there was something quite enjoyable about their rife-with-riff thrash and complete adherance to metal's most stereotypical traits.

Live Without Sense was the last release (until 2000's All Hell Breaks Loose) to feature Schmier on vocals and inaudible bass. Presumably Schmier left the band to start a new project called Headhunter, but I have a feeling he needed to spend more time blowdrying his poodlehair. In fact, judging by his thin, high pitched wailing and pseudo-snarling (think early Tom Araya with no power in his voice and heavily accented) and complete lack of bass in the mix, you'd think Destruction would have been a much more powerful entity without him, but history proved that wrong. Regardless, Live Without Sense is a bang-up, superb document of their live show. Guitarists Mike and Harry were absolutely phenomenal in their extremely speeding, tight riffing and solos. Live Without Sense serves as a perfect "best-of" package for Destruction and these live versions utterly smoke all the studio versions. You could slice tin cans with the razor sharp guitars and the production, while still not perfect, is much better than the studio counterparts. Moreover, amongst all the anti-religion sentiments, a great sense of humor exists, given the Pink Panther theme serving as the outro to "Mad Butcher" and a hilarious take on Glenn Miller Orchestra's "In the Mood". Ultimately, the relentless speed and energy creates a record that is bursting with thrash perfection. Despite everything wrong with Destruction as a musical outfit and their surrounding imagery, Live Without Sense proves they were deserving of praise in the long run.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2001

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Cracked Brain

Destruction - Cracked Brain ©1990 Noise
1. Cracked Brain
2. Frustrated
3. S.E.D.
4. Time Must End
5. My Sharona
6. Rippin' You Off Blind
7. Die A Day Before You're Born
8. No Need To Justify
9. When Your Mind Was Free

Cracked Brain is the point where Destruction's career became a tad bit messy. Sometime after 1989's Live Without Sense, vocalist/bassist Schmier either exited the band on his own or was booted out. I seem to remember reading an interview back around 1990 where the remaining members of the band felt he was spending more time worrying about his hairdo than being a musician or something to that effect. They claimed that he was writing lyrics and demanding the band rearrange music around them, rather than vice versa. No matter what really happened, the end result was that Schmier left Destruction, leaving the band without one of their most identifiable markers.

The remaining band recruited bassist Christian Engler and ultimately settled for a session vocalist to complete Cracked Brain. Andre Grieder from Poltergeist stepped in to perform an adequate role for the album. However, the uncertainty swirling around the project resulted in the album not doing particularly well or being received with great pomp and fanfare. The band would fade into complete obscurity, releasing three independent records that they officially try not to include as "official" Destruction material. Meanwhile, Schmier put together a project called Headhunter which was also equally obscure. Needless to say, the two sides needed one another.

As it turns out, despite being a virtual red-headed stepchild, Cracked Brain is a fairly decent effort, although a bit of a departure for Destruction. The band moved their sound to a bit more of a Dark Angel-esque type of thrash, focusing more on riffage than some of the rumbling speed that had typlified their earlier music. Grieder's voice is nowhere near as shrill or comical as Schmier. However, on the songwriting front, most of the songs fall into the average range, with nothing quite being a standout like some of their previous releases. The scariest moment comes during a cover of The Knack's "My Sharona", which is one of those baffling cover choices that would have best been left alone.

Although not as vital as some of Destruction's other material, Cracked Brain is a somewhat forgotten release that deserves inclusion when discussing the band's career. It showed the band could still put out okay music without their well-known frontman. But at the same time, it also demonstrates that the band worked best with Schmier and Mike Sifringer working together.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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Destruction EP

Destruction - Destruction EP ©1994 Brain Butcher Compact
1. Decisions
2. I Kill Children
3. Things of No Importance
4. Smile
5. Speaker

It's highly amusing to me when a band has an era in their existence that they desperately want to wish away. Pantera, for instance, became very macho men playing tough guy metal and tried to pretend their initial glam metal years was a lie told by aliens from another dimension. And no doubt Iron Maiden is now trying to figure out how to explain away the time period where Blaze Bayley inexplicably was their singer. Destruction also had tried their best to convince themselves and others that the 90s didn't actually happen for them, despite a trio of releases that did not feature vocalist/bassist Schmier (which, all things considered, isn't necessarily a bad thing) and played the groove-laden style that was popular throughout the decade. The reality is that Destruction, which still featured guitarist Mike and drummer Olly, released these albums using their established name and, in this case, their instantly recognizable logo.

This short EP features four new songs showing off the band's capitulation to the modern metal sound of the time period. The band employed the stop on a dime rhythm changes and found a vocalist named Thomas Rosenmerkel who was capable of barking out lyrics with the aura of a guy who, you know, might resort to fisticuffs when his masculinity demanded it. I do find it interesting that without Schmier and his barely adequate talents, Destruction was considerably more adventurous in their song arrangements and technical approach. For instance, the bass is actually audible here. Although the songs aren't particularly brilliant or the best you'll ever hear from any band playing mid 90s metal, this EP isn't terrible either. It's definitely a snapshot of the era of a once prominent band just trying to continue making music without sounding like an antique.

Over time, I've come to regard Destruction as by far the least impressive of the "big three" of German thrash. As we all know, Schmier ultimately rejoined Destruction and they've been churning out records ever since. Unfortunately, those records have been exceptionally unimpressive. In fact, Destruction with Schmier, as a whole, is not a particularly great band aside from a handful of highlights from the 80s. The "neo-Destruction" era, as they wish to call it, is no more or less embarrassing than the rest of their discography. At least on this EP they demonstrated some actual musical ability without Schmier. They should own up to it.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2012

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Them Not Me EP

Destruction - Them Not Me EP ©1995 Brain Butcher
1. Scratch The Skin
2. Live To Start Again
3. Bright Side Of Leprocy
4. Push Me Off The Windowsill
5. Mole
6. Mentally Handicapped Enterprise

In the 90s, after the departure of Schmier and the relative failure of Cracked Brain, Destruction soldiered on under the direction of founding member Mike Sifringer. He recruited another guitarist and vocalist, retaining two of the fellows from Cracked Brain and put out some self-released albums. Today, after the reformation of Destruction with Schmier, the band has tried to officially deny the three recordings from this era, calling it "Neo-Destruction", which is one of the more ridiculous things I've heard of. If you made the album, put your band name on it, it becomes part of the band's catalogue, whether you don't care for the outcome a few years down the road. Perhaps the band will try to pretend history didn't happen, much in the same way Pantera liked to pretend they didn't start out as a glam band, but every music resource in the world includes these so-called "Neo-Destruction" albums as part of the band's repertoire.

With the effort to deny this portion of their career, one would think Destruction put out a stinker along the lines of Celtic Frost's Cold Lake. As it turns out, Them Not Me is a credible 90s metal album, albeit fairly entrenched in some of the trends that were sweeping heavy metal at the time. Much like Wrathchild America morphing into Souls At Zero and incorporating a more chunky-rhythm style (let's face it, Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power influenced a lot of bands, established or otherwise). Destruction also followed this path, moving away from their thrash metal roots. Taken at face value, they do a credible job with the style, throwing around some stop on a dime change-ups and thick slabs of guitar riffing. Vocalist Thomas Rosenmerkel offers up that token tough guy approach and does an adequate job. Needless to say, Them Not Me isn't exactly the finest moment of heavy metal in the mid-90s, but the EP is surprisingly listenable. But I wouldn't suggest hollering out titles from it next time you see Destruction in concert.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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The Least Successful Human Cannonball

Destruction - The Least Successful Human Cannonball ©1998 Brain Butcher
1. Formless, Faceless, Nameless
2. Tick On A Tree
3. 263 Dead Popes
4. Cellar Soul
5. God Gifted
6. Autoaggression
7. Hofffmannn's Helll
8. Brother Of Cain
9. A Fake Transition
10. Continental Drift I
11. Continental Drift II

Although completely irrelevant at this point, Destruction marched forward with their first full length album since 1990's Cracked Brain. They had previously released two EPs in the interim, neither of which exactly got widespread attention. Quite possibly the best thing about The Least Successful Human Cannonball is the amusing title and cover photo. Beyond that, the album is a lukewarm take on 90s metal most prominently played by the likes of Machine Head or perhaps Skinlab. Although Destruction never incorporated some of the rap elements that some of the American bands utilized, the album revolves around the tight rhythm section and shouted, moderately tough-guy vocals. While the slap bass techniques of Christian Engler are impressive in the context of the man he originally replaced (let's just say Schmier's bass playing will never be at the forefront of anything anytime soon), the album tends to fall flat in many regards. This collection of songs lacks oomph. It sounds sincere, but it's not like there weren't hundreds of other similiarly heavy, loud, angry acts around in the late 90s. Very little about this CD is memorable, aside from the cover art. Although Destruction without Schmier's presence had a few good moments, this isn't one of them.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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All Hell Breaks Loose

Destruction - All Hell Breaks Loose ©2000 Nuclear Blast
CD one:
1. Intro
2. The Final Curtain
3. Machinery Of Lies
4. Tears Of Blood
5. Devastation Of Your Soul
6. The Butcher Strikes Back
7. World Domination Of Pain
8. X-treme Measures
9. All Hell Breaks Loose
10. Total Desaster 2000
11. Visual Prostitution
12. Kingdom Of Damnation
CD two:
1. Mad Butcher
2. Total Desaster
3. Antichrist
4. Frontbeast
5. Satan's Vengeance
6. Tormentor

After spending almost all of the 90s in complete obscurity, Destruction's Mike Sifringer reunited with original bassist/vocalist Schmier to resurrect the thrash version of the band from the ashes. The pair picked up Sven Vormann for drums and got themselves signed to Nuclear Blast with the full intention of regaining their former Teutonic thrash metal glory. All Hell Breaks Loose is the first effort from the trio, an album which surely piqued the interest of a retro-minded metal community.

As it turns out, the album is considerably more hype and expectation than anything else. While the band reverts back more to their thrash metal roots, the album itself isn't particularly special or noteworthy in any way other than the band name on the cover. If it had been released by a band named "Septic Fist", there would be very little discussion or interest in it. For many, the resumption of the 80s Destruction trajectory was certainly welcome after the band spent the 90s exploring a more contemporary metal sound on the non-Schmier releases. But it takes more than just reappearing to actually be worth recommending. Schmier, never exactly the most gifted of vocalists, isn't quite as shrill and thin as the old days. Unfortunately, he sounds more like Russ Anderson from Forbidden without any range. I find it somewhat ironic that the two people who replaced Schmier in the 90s (Thomas Rosenmerkel on vocals and Christian Engler on bass) were both considerably more talented. Perhaps it has something to do with charisma. My biggest problem with All Hell Breaks Loose is that the songs are very unmemorable. They sound like by rote runthroughs of thrash metal formulas with a better production quality. Occasionally, a song like "Tears of Blood" chug along with the energy of older Destruction material, but in general the album goes in one ear and right out the other. I'm aware that the problem could be the area between my headphones, but that's another topic for another day.

While it is encouraging to see an old band make a legitimate run in a reunion (All Hell Breaks Loose was not a one-off effort by total has-beens), it'd be more encouraging if the album was something I'd want to play more than a couple times before being relegated to the dustbin of the CD racks.

For old school fans, a limited edition version of this release includes the band's 1984 Bestial Invasion of Hell demo as a bonus disc. The six early songs, despite being clumsy like much of early Destruction, are all considerably more interesting than the 2000 version of the band.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2008

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The Antichrist

Destruction - The Antichrist ©2001 Nuclear Blast
1. Days of Confusion
2. Thrash Till Death
3. Nailed to the Cross
4. Dictators of Cruelty
5. Bullets from Hell
6. Strangulated Pride
7. Meet Your Destiny
8. Creations of the Underworld
9. Godfather of Slander
10. Let Your Mind Rot
11. The Heretic

The second album of the resurrected "classic" Destruction finds the trio desperately treading water with a collection of paint-by-numbers, generic thrash metal. For whatever reason, The Antichrist is a completely mediocre album that blazes along with no personality amidst the appropriate production, obligatory metal intensity and standard thrash approaches. I've spun this album multiple times (or more appropriately, played the digital files because, c'mon, it's 2008) and had a difficult time paying attention to the music zipping by. It's one thing to provide speed, aggression, snarly vocals and mandatory intensity, but almost none of the songs are remotely memorable. "Bullets From Hell" actually has some good moments, but the song could easily be trimmed by two minutes and pack a considerably stronger punch. But for the most part, The Antichrist feels very uninspired and perhaps rushed. Certainly the pressure to get out and tour to promote the reunion of Destruction was strong, so perhaps they got in a bit of a hurry to release another album. Either way, this album ranks as one of the lesser Destruction moments and can be safely avoided.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2000

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Thrash Anthems

Destruction - Thrash Anthems ©2007 AFM Records
1. Bestial Invasion
2. Profanity
3. Release From Agony
4. Mad Butcher
5. Reject Emotions
6. Death Trap
7. Cracked Brain
8. Life Without Sense
9. Total Desaster
10. Deposition (Your Heads Will Roll)
11. Invincible Force
12. Sign of Fear
13. Tormentor
14. Unconscious Ruins
15. Curse the Gods

Nothing screams creative ebb like re-recording old songs. The 2000s version of Destruction had released four studio albums, managing to demonstrate they were quite capable of inducing yawns and illustrating that they were always the lesser of the major German thrash bands in the 80s. The retreaded material lacked any truly inspired songwriting while demonstrating their reputation greatly exceeded their recorded output, something that, upon retrospection, has always been the case with them regardless of era or lineup. So when they take the time to book studio time with their 2000s lineup to rehash their handful of old decent songs, it manages to further highlight how generally unimpressive this edition of the band is.

While the recording on Thrash Anthems could be described as "competent", the 2006 lineup manages to prove that they can't even cover their own songs without sounding like second or third rate retrothrash band. Although 80s Destruction wasn't the smoothest running German machine out there, when they did manage to come up with a good song, it was fairly rocking. 2000s Destruction somehow just manages to color by numbers and retain almost zero millijoules of the youthful frantic energy they once had. Instead, it just sounds calculated, as in "Hey, maybe we can shift a few units by rehashing the old numbers that everyone would rather hear!" They do happen to include a couple new songs on this release, including the oddly titled "Deposition (Your Heads Will Roll)", which suggests that the protaganist of the song is confronting a hydrahead beast. These songs, as expected, are not particularly interesting, which sums up the results of the previous four studio albums.

Between seeing the band live around 2001 and their entirely yawn inducing studio output, I've come to regard Destruction as one of those bands who just happened to get lucky to ride the coattails of the far better bands in the 80s German metal scene. Even covering their own material, they sound utterly devoid of excitement and instead present us with heavy metal's version of doing the county fair scene, yet somehow convincing themselves they still have some relevancy.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2012

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