German speed metal band with death metal influences that, along with Kreator and Sodom, contributed to the new genres but remained rooted in the old.
flag of Germany Destruction - Sentence of Death (1984)
Destruction - Infernal Overkill (1985)
Destruction - D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. (2008)
Sentence of Death

Production: Grainy and mid-range, without the bass thunder to later seize the genre.

Review: In the early 1980s, the groundwork for underground metal grew from the hybrid of punk rhythms and metal riffs. While American bands like Slayer favored a stream of rhythmic powerhouse riffs over an infrastructure of angular melody, European bands followed Destruction's lead and created heavy metal centered around a rhythm, but interpreted through with melodic passages that fused the Metallica-style chug with the rippling tremolo of faster bands.

1. Intro (1:14)
2. Total Desaster (4:06)
3. Black Mass (4:00) mp3 sample
4. Mad Butcher (3:31) mp3 sample
5. Satan's Vengeance (3:16)
6. Devil's Soldiers (3:26) mp3 sample
Length: 19:33

Destruction - Sentence of Death: Speed Metal 1984 Steamhammer
Copyright © 1984 Steamhammer

The result diverged speed metal into two camps, one of which rapidly deviated into death metal while the latter became power metal. Before any of that split, however, Destruction took the tugging rhythms of Sodom and added to them arabesques of melody and erudite, lyrical guitar leads. They expand on the American speed metal approach by fusing their chorus rhythms with a melody and then echoing that melody in lead rhythm playing and fills, giving the songs a density that no American band but Nuclear Assault was able to match until ...And Justice for All.

Into that mix, Destruction infuse the riding rhythms of Motorhead, where a running strum pattern displaces itself with abrupt transitions at key points of emphasizing rhythm, more like a silhouette than an explicit denotation, and integrated the fast budget riffs of Slayer into a hybrid of speed metal and the death metal to come. With this EP, the German band launched a style of fast, recursive riffing developing into melodic lines that influenced all later acts, especially death metal innovators Massacra and the first wave of Scandinavian black metal bands.

This style has its limitations. The postwar mentality shows itself in a willingness to extend rock and heavy metal, but not get into dangerous territory, and to comment on a world gone insane but never delve into reasons why, and this shows in the fragmentary nature of the composition. These are melodic variations on a rhythmic core, derived from a chorus, as appears in fellow German bands Kreator and Sodom. While much technique and spirit came from these early works, their lack of ability to transcend their origins kept them from rising out of their generation of the genre.

Infernal Overkill

Production: Mechanical, metallic-sounding distortion that favors the midrange in a boxy but roomy sound.

Review: Destruction pioneered rhythmic songs that periodically expressed themselves in melodic riffs, which created a chorus-heavy foot-tapping power that launched a thousand bands, but the originators ran into trouble as the style expanded. While their melodic riffing influenced all European and most American metal to follow, the chorus-heaviness forced a split from the new death metal style and kept them stranded in a faster version of speed metal.

On their second release, Destruction reign in the chaos and add musical precision, which at the time encouraged the re-interpretation of ideas from the first EP as new songs, albeit recognizable tributes to the older work. At the same time, they mix in a greater influence from Slayer, which manifests itself in Judas Priest-tinged speeding riffs that complement the bouncier, more literal-minded chorus-pattern riffs for which this band is famous. The greater control over the ability to strum at high speed leads itself to a more complex texture of riffs, but the tendency to end phrases definitively in all parts of the song creates a monochromatic mood.

1. Invincible Force (4:20)
2. Death Trap (5:49)
3. The Ritual (5:11) mp3 sample
4. Tormentor (5:06)
5. Bestial Invasion (4:36) mp3 sample
6. Thrash Attack (2:56)
7. Antichrist (3:44)
8. Black Death (7:39) mp3 sample
Length: 39:21

Destruction - Infernal Overkill: Speed Metal 1985 Steamhammer
Copyright © 1985 Steamhammer

This type of music, called by "thrash metal" by some to emphasize its hybridization with thrash bands like DRI and Cryptic Slaughter in the internally-conflicted percussion that gave it an aura of descending chaos, found itself conflicted between an inclination toward eventual melodic songwriting and a reliance on its compelling rhythms. While melodic completion would have forced it into a clearer self-definition, its immersion in a disordered appearance and non-serious aesthetic kept it from the difficult implications of its praise of war, violence and evil.

Where earlier works from Destruction were sprawling and chaotic demonstrations of emotion, the evolution of the band converges on heavy metal song structures with faster riffs and the dominating rhythms that emerged from earlier works. The result satisfies those who like the power metal style of pat rhythms and epic solos, wailing vocals and easily identifiable parts of each song, but it precluded the ability to expand song structure like the death metal oncogenesis compounding around them.

Destruction - D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N.: Speed Metal 2008 AFM

1. D.evolution (5:29) mp3 sample
2. E.levator to Hell (5:38)
3. V.icious Circle - the Seven Deadly Sins (4:42)
4. O.ffenders of the Throne (4:16) mp3 sample
5. L.ast Desperate Scream (3:59)
6. U.rge (the Greed of Gain) (4:42)
7. T.he Violation of Morality (4:36)
8. I.nner Indulgence (4:46)
9. O.dyssey of Frustration (5:29) mp3 sample
10. N.o One Shall Survive (4:26)
Length: 48:03

D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. (AFM, 2008)
What has always made Destruction difficult as a prolonged listen is its literal-mindedness. Phrases end patly with a linear complement to their start; chorus rhythms pervade every part of the song. This CD amplifies those tendencies and, while the riffcraft is in some ways most advanced, the songwriting has devolved (heh) to formula that emphasizes the parts of this CD that everyone in a crowd can find minimally appealing -- like pop music. The problem is that this leads to an enduring rhythmic redundancy, now coupled with a rock/funk style bounce expectation, that makes this CD headache-inducing, despite some of the quality guitar work and riffcraft on here.

BLACK   |   DEATH   |   HEAVY   |   SPEED   |   THRASH   |   GRINDCORE