Desaster – The Arts of Destruction

With new album The Arts of Destruction, German metalers Desaster show they have not lost any of their spiteful aggression or formidable intensity over the last twenty plus years since forming in 1988. In fact as their release shows they have simply increased all levels and their creativity over recent years unleashing an album that gives the senses a real working over whilst treating them to well crafted melodic intrusions. The Arts of Destruction does not exactly stir up an undying exaltation for its thrash fuelled venomous sounds veined with black metal darkness and malevolence but it certainly leaves most similar coated bands fighting to share their shadow.

Through six previous albums, 2 live releases, and various compilations, splits and EP’s Desaster has increased an ardent following that started almost from their start and certainly after debut album A Touch Of Medieval Darkness in 1996. Despite a tumultuous time line-up wise at the beginning, the band strode on racking up great responses release by release and through their tremendous live performances impressing with an ever potent array of tours, gigs and festival spots.  Desaster bring forth sounds with a distinct old school heart leaving innovation to others but their music has a satisfying variety and density to it that makes listening to them a pleasure at any time.

From the opening title track The Arts of Destruction announces itself as a collection of songs that are uncomplicated but pierced and punctuated with a forceful intent combined with incisive melodies and grooves. To be honest the album took time to grow on the senses, the initial play simply enjoyable but subsequent visits unveiled a richer creativity within the compositions which at first hid behind the power. The first song is a solid and formidable track opening on the back of an intro offering sounds of battle or a loud and lively dining room, the sound of steel upon steel leading into an incessant pummelling of the ear by The Arts of Destruction. Tormentor and Odin on drums and bass respectively grab the head forcing their might through the ear whilst the guitar of Infernal scythes with sharp riffs and sinister melodies intent on harm. As with the music the vocals of Sataniac took a time to connect to, his coarse bile spitting screeches and growls caustic. After a few plays though it is hard to imagine anyone offering the same intensity and extreme effect to Desaster.

Whereas the opener is a relatively straight to the core attack, other songs offer a varied and at times thrilling mix. The likes of Lacerate (with Rans of Doom) with a rampaging grind that refuses to relinquish its grip once it takes hold, Phantom Funeral which is unpredictable with a groove that winds around the ear to almost mesmeric effect as the rhythms twitch and twist with intimidation, and the mighty Troops of Heathens, Graves of Saints hold no mercy for their willing victim but still treat him with some crucial metal. The latter of these three rumbles and rolls between all out consumption of the senses and a less intense aggression, the transition seamless and satisfying. Desaster forge their sound on a thrash driveshaft as mentioned but are not afraid to mix it up pace and attack wise, using acute melodies and acidic grooves to captivate and overcome the senses.

As the album progresses it gets better and better, the final two songs of Possessed And Defiled and Beyond Your Grave revealed as the best on the album. The first has a warm yet cutting guitar which whips around the ear as the rhythms stomp across to accompany it. There is a slight folk metal vibe to its militant enforcement that is wonderful and this is the one song that really revs up the pulse rate. The closer, apart from a great melodic outro, is a steel toe capped kick to the groin, rampaging and malicious it is an example of how metal should always be, forceful, vibrant, and without shame.

The Arts of Destruction is a satisfying formidable slab of metal that even without Desaster wanting to venture outside their own slightly expected sound is impressive, fresh sounding and a should listen to release.

The Arts of Destruction is available via Metal Blade Records by the end of February wherever you are.

RingMaster 23/02/2012

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Nocturnal Torment: They Come At Night

They Come At Night is the debut album from US metalers Nocturnal Torment which has been twenty years in the making. Well not exactly true as though formed in 1988 commitments of the members to other projects  and bands took precedent resulting in Nocturnal Torment becoming dormant until recently. With a sound heavily soaked in the black depths of old school death metal lined with a thrash intensity recalling the likes of Pestilence, Monstrosity, Kreator, and Dark Angel, the Indiana based quartet of Mark Schultz (Guitar/Vocals), Tom Stathis (Guitar/Vocals), Pete Clemens (Bass), and Dave Ross (Drums)return with an album that does grabs attention. With riffs that slam hard and grooves that whip a storm throughout the ear the release leaves a distinct mark but not always for what it intended.  At times it verges on uncontrolled randomness and messy to overall disappoint and offer nothing really to excite.

Very often the nine tracks within They Come At Night produce ear startlingly moments that threaten to light up the senses but just as often they are whipped away by the bands desire to unleash a storm upon the senses without any kind of seeming subtlety or care. The songs often feel like a patchwork of ideas and a flurry of riffs just eager to assault without a clear and seamless transition. To be fair often this works well as in Cycle Of Life and Sweet Decay but it is rarely sustained. It is almost as if the band is trying to bring tech metal into play without actually going there, and as if they are playing with structures without either understanding how. For a band whose  bio suggests its members have been in bands since Nocturnal Torment had its enforced hiatus it is a surprisingly loose display and makes one ask whether the recordings come from back in their formative years though there is nothing else to suggest it.

Despite these things tracks like the aforementioned Cycle Of Life and Sweet Decay, plus Forever Eternal Darkness do hit the mark more often than not without ever being truly satisfying as do moments in the likes of Fresh Flesh Fetish and the title track. The heavy barracking of the drums and abusive riffs are malicious which drives the songs home powerfully and to their benefit erecting a wall of intensity that covers the less successful things beneath at times. I have to say that the desire to really like this album often reared its head on the album, and in many ways They Come At Night gives firm suggestion of possible great things ahead for Nocturnal Torment once they work on their style and fine tune what are basically bold and inventive ideas. They Come At Night is far from a car crash and should be checked out but against similar veined releases such as the new Desaster album it pales sadly.

RingMaster 23/02/2012

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