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Them Not Me is the second EP of 'Neo-Destruction', which is how we refer to the 1994-1998 chunk of the Germans' discography that Schmier and Mike Sifringer dread to include in any mention of their sordid past. I can understand the sentiment, and as well all know, Schmier has nothing to do with crap, but the fact is that it still exists. Someone thought it was a good idea to make this happen. But all derision aside, this is actually superior to its predecessor, because despite the fact that the music is pretty awful, there's an honest attempt to do something different that would rise to the tide of the 90s. Swerving funk and groove elements hide just below the chaotic, thrashing surface here, but there's quite a lot going on.
Thomas Rosenmerkel was still at the helm here, and his presence is still a huge reason why the mid 90s were utter hell for Destruction. The guy puts too much overbearing emphasis on his gravel chewing, like some hard sleaze rock misfit who was reared on a pacifier of Pantera and Skid Row. Thus, even when the band breaks into something half-way interesting, it is brought low by the laughable performance. By comparison, André Grieder of Poltergeist (who filled in for the Cracked Brain album and tour) sounds fucking incredible. But Rosenmerkel is not the sole guilty party here, but the constantly shifting and strutting of the groove/thrash rhythms that offset the clinical mania that lies at the band's core sound. It's an uneven mesh. At best, it sounds like Cracked Brain with less impressive riffs ("Scratch the Skin", "Bright Side of Leprosy" and the intro to "Push Me Off the Windowsill"). But the pumping, popping bass lines and the majority of the guitars are just all too forgettable in this context.
The final track, "Mentally Handicapped Enterprise", is only too fitting of a title that truly sums up the experience of Them Not Me; but it's also the best song here, with some flippant, fast paced energy that under any other vocalist might sound like merely mediocre modern thrash. I would also like to point out that this is by no means half-assed in execution: the production here is quite clear and punchy, certainly professional by 1995 standards and despite the retrospective embarrassments, it was clear that Mike Sifringer and Oliver Kaiser were trying to accomplish something with this release. They simply chose the wrong vocalist. Without Rosenmerkel's absurd slathering, the very same music might be marginally more effective, but here it stands, for all time, as an exercise in bobbing, weaving, ducking confusion.
There’s a reason if Destruction don’t consider this EP a part of their discography: it sucks. Without Schmier Destruction passed through a quite long period of crises that brought them to release weak efforts and Them Not Me is the maximum expression of this crappy moment. The only original member in the line up is the mythical guitarist Mike Sifringer that now plays horrible funky, nu- metal riffs…but let’s go in order in analysing this CD.
The production is good and pounding with his volumes and the guitars distortion is truly heavy with a lot of treble distortion on it. The same thing can be said for the drums, that are well recorded. The new singer is completely crap. This is the classic singer that doesn’t fit in thrash metal with that half groove tonality that follows directly the terrible songs in this EP. They are full of stopped chords parts, strange arpeggios on the electric guitars during the stop and groove riffs.
Sometimes it’s like listening to Korn on metal, especially during the first, boring “Scratch The Skin”. The following “Live To Start Again” is a bit more speed but not thrash at all! It’s terrible to hear how a thrash metal legend sounded bad during the period of crises. The vocals, anyway, are the thing that really gets on my nerves during the whole length. I don’t know why Mike continued with this shit under the moniker of Destruction…it would have been better to form a new band to play a different style, but probably our foxy German pal understood that the moniker attracted more people than an another by a new group. It’s a business matter. It’s all about the money and this makes me puke.
There’s nothing you can save here, apart from the good production. Here you can find the lowest Destruction’s point in their career. No up tempo, no thrash riffs, no bad ass vocals. Pure crap from a band that would have been again great in the near future, fortunately. Thrashers, avoid this complete waste of plastic.
So, Mike and co. are no longer considering this EP, the one before it, and the '...Cannonball' album as true Destruction releases. But somehow the Schmier-less 'Cracked Brain' still is considered Destruction. That is completely retarded.
Looking at 'Them Not Me' for what it is, it's not great but does have some redeeming qualities. First off, the chemistry between leader/guitarist Mike and drummer Oliver (a member of Destruction since the 'Mad Butcher' EP) is fantastic. Mike offers a fair share of twisted riffs, and Oliver meets him every time with some interesting, manic syncopation. The guitar solo sections of both "Live To Start Again" and "Bright Side Of Leprocy" are up there with the best of 'Release From Agony' in terms of inspired and weird brilliance.
Unfortunately there are way too many aggro-mosh riffs here, somewhere between Pantera and the most boring Meshuggah riffs. This pulls the album into a morass of boredom way too often. And the vocalist completely sucks. Sounds like a guy who came into the band from outside of metal and affected a toughguy/thrash-sneer style because it was required of him. He's not believable, and he does nothing interesting with the material.
'Them Not Me' is not great by any stretch, but at least they were still trying to move into new areas. It's more laudable than the current Destruction, who continue their run of phenomenally lame paint-by-numbers albums. (Comeback my ass.) I give this era of Destruction credit for attempting something relatively new. But it still fails.
And guys, c'mon, take responsibility for your actions. Your efforts to erase the past are laughable, and Orwellian.
(Forgive me the stupid title but it`s late and i`m a little tired and drunk)
Finally, after few years of searching i found a Destruction CD from the „Rosenmerkel era” (93-99). My first thought after listening to this little EP was: „Oh my, how the mighty have fallen”. The whole thing consists of 5 tracks and one interlude with the total time of nearly 20 minutes. It`s hard to believe that this pile of shit came out after the godly Cracked Brain (not counting the Destruction EP) which was in my opinion their best album.
The vocalist sucks. He`s certainly no Schmier or Grieder. Actually he sounds like he`s having problems with his stomach.The band is technically good, especially Sifringer, but we`re used to that. The speed and anger of first two albums are gone. The thing that annoys the fuck out of me the most is that there are four solos. Yep, you heard me right: FOUR fuckin` guitar solos on the whole EP. And this is coming from a thrash band. Oh sorry, the style on here is not thrash, it`s some shitty Pantera worship. As for the lyrics they`re stupid. I mean, this band never had lyrics like for example Dark Fuckin` Angel but some of them were pretty cool. Here we got something like: „I scratch the skin to get outside” or „I`m. no Jesus Christ just a common man” Lame.
Overall this sounds like something Pantera would put out after Cowboys from Hell. If you`re into shitty metal, you`ll dig the fuck out of this. I`m not suprised that they released it on their own.
Recommended tracks: none
This release gets ten points because some of the riffs are trademark Destruction, but overall the whole thing is plain suckage. I haven`t heard the Destruction EP and The Least Successfull Human Cannonball but i`m pretty sure that they suck too.