Destruction – Spiritual Genocide Review

The Butcher’s back once more…

Spiritual Genocide is album number thirteen for these German thrashers, and its release coincides with their thirtieth anniversary. Though they may be getting a bit long in them, when they choose to bare their teeth, Destruction still has plenty of bite left – Genocide brings more of the frantic, raging, beefed-up post-millennium thrash that Destruction has been peddling since Schmier’s return over a decade ago. It’s a bit redundant and tends toward interchangeability, but then again, that also describes the last few…

The addition of drummer Vaaver in 2010 brought an injection of fresh blood, and it’s a welcome one – both bassist/vocalist Schmier and guitarist Mike Sifringer are original members, though Schmier departed in 1989 and Sifringer led the band through a series of forgettable misfires until Schmier returned. Now on his second outing with the band, Vaaver is a beast behind the kit, his playing fast and hard, but skillfully controlled and always pushing Destruction forward with a frenetic energy. Whereas earlier Destruction efforts reveled in their almost-off-the-rails, Teutonic thrash attack, post-reformation Destruction possesses that same intensity, but these days, the proceedings are stouter, punchier, tighter.

Anyone who’s kept up with Destruction’s last decade knows what to expect here – Sifringer’s speedy and semi-technical thrash riffing; Schmier’s feral snarl and occasional screams (markedly less frequent now than in the good ol’ days). Like that of all modern Destruction efforts, Spiritual Genocide’s worthiness is not based upon the band’s skill or spark, but almost wholly upon the batch of tunes they’ve brought us this time around. And in that department, Genocide is as much a success as not – after the instrumental intro “Exordium,” “Cyanide” starts the album in proper thrashing fashion, followed closely by the excellent title track. “City Of Doom” evokes Megadeth’s early 90s heyday in its riffing, another highlight, even if the intro is borrowed from “Holy Wars.” The grooving “Riot Squad” and the terribly titled “Under Violent Sledge” close the album on a solid note, the latter flying by atop Vaaver’s nonstop double-kick barrage. For the ardent fan, there’s an expanded edition of Spiritual Genocide that adds a well-done cover of Saxon‘s “Princess Of The Night” and another version of “Carnivore.”

Still, all is not perfect, though nothing completely bottoms out: In the album’s back stretch, there lies some decent-but-unexciting thrash, including a less interesting rewrite of the band’s own “Thrash ‘Til Death,” from 2001’s The Antichrist. This new one’s called “Legacy Of The Past”; like “Thrash ‘Til Death,” its lyrics are pieced together from album titles, though there are more now than before. “Legacy” name-checks the likes of Hell Awaits, In The Sign Of Evil, Zombie Attack, Kill ‘Em All, War And Pain, and even the band’s own Sentence Of Death and Eternal Devastation. (Furthering its thrash history theme, “Legacy” also features unspectacular guest vocals from Tom Angelripper of Sodom and Gerre of Tankard.) The first single “Carnivore” is among the weakest on hand – expending a promising mid-tempo thrash intro and verse on a throwaway chorus and a somewhat rote middle.

All in all, Spiritual Genocide is another modern Destruction album – it’s tight, thrashing, fun; it sports some good tunes and some duller ones; and in following the formula, it’s likely guaranteed to appease fans of the band and of modern thrash in general, though it’s equally likely that it won’t blow anyone away. If you’ve listened in the last decade or so, you’ve heard most of this before in different form. The best bits of Spiritual Genocide leave no doubt that Destruction can still hit hard, even if not every song is a knockout punch.

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

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