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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Reviews: Destruction, Devildriver, Electric Citizen

Destruction: Under Attack (Nuclear Blast)

14 albums? Destruction have made 14 albums? This is what sprang to mind when Under Attack came into my review pile, but after a check online it is indeed the bands 14th studio album. Now much of this surprise may come from the fact that I've never invested that much time into Destruction or indeed their compatriots in the "Big Four Of Teutonic Thrash" with the exception of Kreator and the first couple of Sodom albums (hail Wodos!) however after Destruction frontman Schmier was part of the German Panzer project I went back and visited Destruction's work. I'm happy to say that Under Attack is exactly what you would expect of them, it's pure Teutonic thrash and not the weird now ignored unofficial groove metal period they went through in the 1990's, from the outset the maelstrom of snarling riffs, thunderous bass lines and rapid fire drumming are all present and correct with the three piece just blitzing the listener with pure thrash fury from minute one.

Well that's not strictly true the title track starts off with slow clean guitar build before the track kicks in and the pace switches throughout the 6 minute opener, with Schmier deploying his snarl/shriek to full effect as founding member and the band's only constant, Mike darts in and out with six string fireworks as the song builds to its explosive abrupt climax. They say there is no rest for the wicked, Destruction have obviously been evil as next track Generation Nevermore is a rapid fire thrasher, although once again things slow down on Getting Used To Evil which has a death metal chug to it with the loud quiet dynamic on the verses and chorus with more modern influences coming in on Conductor Of The Void.

Under Attack is another album of Teutonic thrash but with enough variation to keep it interesting, there are even nods to Destruction's black metal roots in both the sparse production of the record and tracks like Elegant PigsStigmatized and their cover of Venom's Black Metal that comes as a bonus track for the record. It's Destruction still bringing the thrash at the max but with enough nuances to keep your interests, still if you do not like thrash then I'd avoid this record, for thrashers however there is enough here to get you heads banging. 7/10     

Devildriver: Trust No One (Napalm)

It's almost all change in the Devildriver camp on their seventh album with the departures of founder members John Boecklin (drums) and Jeff Kendrick (guitar) meaning that only front man Dez Fafara remains from the original line up he's aided on this record by long time guitarist Mike Spreitzer who calls this "the record I've been wanting to write for 12 years". Why he thinks that I don't know as really I can't see any difference with record to any of Devildriver's previous works, yes the band have a sound but they do seem to plow an already well worn field if you put their debut record next to this one and really there won't be much difference, yes their later albums do have a bit more melody in than tracks but other than that Trust No One is another groove metal album that doesn't really vary in style from the bands previous releases.

Saying that it isn't actually as good as some of their previous releases, in my opinion the band's magnum opus is Pray For Villains which was almost a perfect unison of extremity and melody, Trust No One is not that record, it sounds like the band are in third gear just cruising along in the middle lane, it never really shifts up, nothing really jumps out at you, that's not to say there are bad songs, far from it, it's just all a bit boring really. Fafara's vocals are the usual guttural style he prefers backed by the stable punishing groove, Bad Deeds is a heavy thundering track with some melodies that save it, This Deception too will cause the pits Devildriver always try to incite. Mostly this is just another Devildriver record, they are never going to radically change their sound, this is probably why Coal Chamber reformed, but that means that they will never really get out of the routine they have been in most of their career, not that it'll matter to the shirtless pit warriors they'll love it, for others though it's just all a bit safe and pedestrian. 5/10

Electric Citizen: Higher Time (Riding Easy Records)

For what is a relatively young band Electric Citizen have a reasonable workrate for modern music, their debut Sateen came in 2014 and now after almost two years and hell of a lot of touring later their second record Higher Time is now ready to once again bring the Sabbath worshiping heavy rock to the (black) masses. I saw the band supporting Wolfmother and they impressed despite the poor sound, although personally I thought their debut album had flashes of excellence but suffered a little from the band holding back a little, but this has been addressed on their second record, yes the Iommi-like riffs of Ross Dolan still pump out of a Gibson SG as his wife Laura wails and bewitches casting occult spells on Social Phobia while the booming rhythm section of Randy Proctor and Nate Wagner keep the voodoo coming on Misery Keeper.

Laura's vocals are unique in that they are deep and resonant fitting the band's occult style of retro riffage perfectly, the songs are underpinned and fleshed out by Andrew Higley who adds the brooding organs and keys to tracks like Evil and most effectively on Devils In The Passing Night which sounds like Fleetwood Mac with more sorcery and has an impressive solo section from Ross. Witchcraft and Wizardry was once a staple of British and American bands such as Black Sabbath Pentagram but in recent years European's have had a grip on it since with bands like Ghost taking off in a big way, now with retro mystic rock becoming big business it's time for us Brits and Yanks like Electric Citizen to take it back, the psychedelic, trippy riff fuelled occult rocking featured on Higher Time along with high profile support slots with Wolfmother as I've said and coming up with legends Orange Goblin will launch them in the consciousness of the world at large. 8/10  

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