RSS Feed

Under Attack

Nuclear Blast (2016)
Rating: 8/10

I always put Germany’s Destruction and fellow countrymen Sodom down as the most lethal thrash tag-team in the business. Okay, some would argue that Kreator should in there somewhere, but there are just so many parallels between these two Teutonic veterans.

And so we come to Destruction’s 14th (one less than Sodom) battering ram which comes four years after the impressive Spiritual Genocide. I recall back in the 80s wondering which would be the best thrash album of the year, and there was always that tendency to create rivalries, and while I have really enjoyed perusing the depths of Destruction’s latest opus I have to say that Sodom’s Decision Day pips it to the post.

Under Attack brings us ten new tracks and two bonus cuts; a reworking of ‘Thrash Attack’ (from 1985 full-length debut Infernal Overkill) and a cover of Venom’s legendary ‘Black Metal’. But forget the novelties and let’s concentrate on the ten tunes the band has concocted.

Opener is the title track; a solid, energetic thrash workout pumped out in typical Destruction vein. Again, it’s a steely hammer blow which harkens back to the band’s late 80s work; sharp, clinical and furious, and given that vicious edge by Schmier’s sneer, which although lacking the menace of Sodom’s Tom Angelripper still brings joy to the ears as we celebrate this German cacophony which has ridden through the tough times to continue on its belligerent path. It’s Destruction in full speed mode; hardened by Vaaver’s nihilistic drum attack and those fizzing solos from Mike.

Destruction are the Motörhead of thrash metal; plying their trade by coughing up no frills, balls-to-the-wall fast metal. You never feel let down and yet you never want to criticise, because like Sodom, Kreator et al, they’ve been with us for so long as the likes of Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth have at times bucked to trend and released bad eggs. But maybe it’s because of their sometimes generic brand of metal that the likes of Destruction don’t get the credit they deserve. After all, they’ve become part of the furniture – rusty war pigs embedded into our metal psyche along with Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Motörhead. And we’d certainly be fools to expect albums as great as their 80s efforts because that was a special time, but that’s not to say that these veterans haven’t still got it.

With the blitzkrieg attack of ‘Generation Nevermore’ (a true thrash anthem for the now generation), ‘Conductor Of The Void (another hammering, straight down the line thrash archetype of terror), and ‘Getting Used To The Evil’ (with its intriguing simmering subtle intro and excellent marrying of power and darker, foreboding trudges), there’s always moments when you can smile in the knowing that Destruction have once again strung us up like a pig and bled us dry with their menacing melody and belligerent thrash rust.

My only real criticism with the album is that the production seems a tad thin, and so at times I’m craving something meatier to whack me round the face. And yet there are moments on offer here when I’m transported back the classic horrors of, say, Infernal Overkill as I’m trampled by the furious ‘Pathogenic’ and steamrollered by the killer melodies of ‘Stand Up For What You Deliver’; the trio again cementing my Motörhead comparison in that these are tracks which will not change the thrash genre, but in turn teach the new kids on the block a thing or two about how to really thrash out.

Like Sodom, Destruction are masters of slowing the pace for sinister appeal, but there’s always a nasty streak waiting around the corner; ‘Elegant Pigs’ is Motörhead meets Venom, while ‘Stigmatized’ is an arrogant slab of galloping cold steel full of catchy riffs and a drum that rattles the bones.

The motto of “don’t fix something which isn’t broken” remains true with Destruction as they rumble on through the decades. This beast is still cold and still very much clinical.

Neil Arnold