(Pure Steel 2017)
Man, it does my heart good to hear a new album from Destructor. Of course, the venerable Cleveland metal institution is best known for the legendary Maximum Destruction opus from 1985, but Dave Overkill, Matt Flammable and the boys are still going strong today. To clear up any confusion from the outset, while this album is called Decibel Casualties, and while Destructor did originally plan to call its second album by that name in 1987/1988 (a few songs from that session can be found on the Maximum Destruction reissue on Listenable Records), these are present-day recordings of (to the best of my knowledge) all-new Destructor songs. So what we have here on Decibel Casualties is Destructor’s first album of new material in a decade. (The Back in Bondage album released on Pure Steel Records last year actually consisted of vintage recordings of songs written in the late 1980s and late 1990s.) That’s cause for celebration in my book. Some of these songs have featured in Destructor’s live performances for some time; indeed, I distinctly recall hearing them play “Keep the Faith” and “Metal Spike Deep” at the Defenders of Metal Fest in spring 2015. I remember because both songs made a massive impression on me at the time, and it’s fantastic to finally have properly recorded versions of them on CD.
Anyone hoping for experimentation, diversification, or assimilation on Decibel Casualties will be sorely disappointed. Destructor are what they are, and they make no pretense of being anything else. Thank the metal gods for that. This album is overflowing with all the familiar Destructor trademarks: old-school speedy riffing, pummeling rhythms, fist-in-the-air choruses and the distinctive high-pitched, rough-hewn but still melodic and expressive vocals of Dave Overkill (reminding me of Tension’s Tom Gattis in places). Lyrically, too, the band stick to tried-and-true themes of chaos, black death, poser genocides and the enduring might and majesty of heavy metal music. Here’s the thing, though: Decibel Casualties is probably as good as anything Destructor have ever done before. That fact is almost shocking. With legacy acts in 2017, there’s always a fear that a new album may be nothing more than a pale imitation of the past, a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful stab at recapturing the glory days. Not so here. Decibel Casualties stands proudly alongside Maximum Destruction or anything else in the Destructor discography. The songwriting is stellar, not only on the aforementioned “Keep the Faith” and “Metal Spike Deep,” but also on the likes of “The Last Days,” “Metal Till Death,” and “Restore Chaos.” All are superb examples of timeless U.S. power/speed metal with ripping riffs, powerful vocals and that genuine old-school feeling that so many struggle and fail to capture these days. Little-known fact about the songwriting on this album: The booklet reflects that the tunes were co-written by longtime guitarist Pat Rabid (who parted ways with the band in 2012) and Jamie Boulder (better known today by his stage name, Athenar, in Midnight), who spent a decade as Destructor’s bassist. Decibel Casualties also boasts a potent, in-your-face production and a savage guitar tone that complements the tunes perfectly.
Any fears that Destructor’s sonic attack may have dulled with the passage of time are misplaced. Decibel Casualties is the work of a band that is inspired, invigorated and firing on all cylinders. Fans of Destructor’s previous recordings can and should buy this album with confidence. Those who are new to the band will find Decibel Casualties to be an ideal introduction to Destructor’s time-honored brand of pure, classic, high-velocity heavy metal mayhem. The last words are Dave Overkill’s (from the song “Keep the Faith”: “Made from metal / Born of steel / Keep the faith forevermore.” When Destructor is finally laid to rest many years from now, those words should be carved on its tombstone as a fitting and accurate epitaph for one of the great underground heroes of American heavy metal for 3+ decades.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~