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The Butcher’s Deadliest, Most Intricate Strike - 98%

bayern, May 15th, 2017

The mighty Destruction… the greatest thrash metal act the German scene has managed to produce during these over 30 years. The most interesting and the most creative entity of the Holy Three (you know the other two) who, for some most idiotic and illogical reason, remained the least commercially successful of the lot. Ha! (sardonic laugh)… Not that Mike Sifringer and Co. cared too much about that, but at least genius and originality were supposed to get recognition of some sorts back then…

Or maybe not; and that’s a real pity since when the other two were still messing with their instruments, Destruction released the “Total Disaster” EP, the definitive template for the German speed/thrash metal movement. The other two had barely managed to find the synchronicity among them when this band followed with a full-length merely months later, “Infernal Overkill”, an extraordinary early achievement in the annals of the genre towering high above timidly emerging “endless pains” and “signs of evil”. The fanbase were still gripped in stupor and katatonia from the last “assault” when “Eternal Devastation” was unleashed upon them, the third coming that pretty much sealed the band’s fate as leaders of the thrash metal movement, ready to oppose to any Bay-Area practitioner at any time, day or night.

There was no other way for Destruction but to embrace the more demanding, technical sounds of the late-80’s. They pretty much hit the top on the more immediate, bashing side of the genre; there was nothing left for them there… I still suspect an organized transition within the German metal confines, the one that occurred in 1987/88 when three outfits, the other two being Living Death and Deathrow, decided to abandon their primal thrashy roots and embark on a progressive/technical journey arguably instigated by the pioneering work of Ralph Hubert, the Mekong Delta leader, and the founder of the Aaarrg label which later became a shelter for another talented progressive thrash formation, the Belgians Target, among other interesting bands from both sides of The Atlantic.

A great boost to the band line-up was the addition of a second guitarist, Harry Wilkens, and with him in line Sifringer finally found the perfect axeman to pair with and realise his more ambitious visions. So the actual transition started with the “Mad Butcher” EP which introduced the heavier guitar sound and the more intricate arrangements that had graced the superb semi-ballad “Reject Emotions” and the fabulous instrumental “The Last Judgement”. So much for testing the soil and warming-up, time for the real showdown, the album reviewed here, which mesmerizes with the beautiful instrumental intro “Beyond Eternity”, a logical follow-up to “The Last Judgement”. The title-track follows suit with the intricately woven, fast-paced rifforamas and blazing virtuoso leads Schmier’s apocalyptic mean vocals soaring above the proceedings with all their demonic spite. “Dissatisfied Existence” is the ultimate technical shredfest, a diverse opus with the fascinating fretwork, the brilliant urgent stomping mid-break and the memorable chorus, one of the band’s finest achievements and a perennial live favourite. More delights of the less expected variety, like “Sign of Fear”, for example, a doom-laden thrashterpiece with breath-taking flamenco acoustics incorporated into the first doom/thrash hybrid ever composed; the progressive build-ups, the sinister chorus, the technical escapades in the middle, and the cavernous atmosphere make this piece a mandatory listen for both thrash and doom metal lovers.

“Unconscious Ruins” is a vigorous headbanger with an officiant pounding interlude, a more immediate cut compared to the several previous ones; but comes “Incriminated” and its rolling, spinning riffs forebode more interesting occurrences like a more flexible progressive structure, less adherence to speed, and brisk outbursts of stylish dynamics. “Our Oppression” shoots intense intricate strokes into the aether in a disciplined accurate fashion resulting in several superb vortex-like formations those reaching fever pitch in the second half. “Survive to Die” is the last intriguing thrasher the guys stirring a whirlwind of technical rhythms on an otherwise more conventional background, another claim at originality being the frolic brief rock’n roll tune at the end, a tool the guys would explore more fully in the near future (remember “My Charona”).

Another winning ace in the hands of the band who literally hit the top in both musical execution and compositional skills. This album constitutes an indelible part from the 1988 legacy which gave the thrash metal field its finest products from a technical/progressive point-of-view. This effort stood proud in the very strong company of other eye openers like Deathrow’s “Deception Ignored”, Mekong Delta’s “The Music of Erich Zann”, Target’s “Master Project Genesis”, Sieges Even’s “Life Cycle”, and Vendetta’s “Brain Damage”. For some it could be the better option to the complex, multi-layered rifforamas of Deathrow and Sieges Even, and by all means the more accessible alternative to the abstract eccentricities of Mekong Delta. It served technical thrash in its purest, non-contaminated form seeing the guys a sizeable step ahead of Kreator and Sodom again.

The road up was well paved, but the band was struck by Schmier’s departure who wanted to pursue a more independent career with his own project Headhunter. This didn’t quite stop Sifringer and Co., though, who simply invited the singer of the Swiss thrashers Poltergeist Andre Grieder to do the vocals on their next instalment “Cracked Brain” two years later. This sequel was universally denounced by the band fans who didn’t want to accept the new material without Schmier’s staple mean tirades. Music-wise this effort was another capable technical thrash offering although it lacked the depth and the dark atmosphere of its predecessor. The riff-patterns were served in a more optimistic, trippy fashion probably to suit Grieder’s more melodic, more attached vocals; still, the inclusion of the cover of this horrible “My Charona” nonsense was a huge misstep.

The album was a commercial fiasco which prompted Sifringer to abandon the classic technical thrash formula, and to turn to the up-and-coming groovy/aggro vogues. And this is where the band hit the very bottom finally sidelined by their rivals, especially Kreator who proved way more adaptable to the new demands with the fairly good “Renewal”. Destruction’s mid-90’s period had better be forgotten as it represents arguably the worst metamorphosis experienced by an 80’s veteran ever, even making universally recognized flops like Celtic Frost’s “Cold Lake” sound like masterpieces. The return of Schmier at the end of the decade saved the sinking ship, and the latter has been sailing upwards ever since, the band recapturing their old school vigour with a string of high quality albums feeling jubilant and relieved, exonerated and ultimately released from all agonizing past failures.

Their best work - 93%

mikey22, April 27th, 2016

Wow! That is the first word that came out of my mouth when I first heard this album as it easily surpasses their earlier work. For one the production was better as you can still hear the rawness Destruction possessed, but the sound became clearer, and their technical abilities have greatly improved. From the very first instrumental track you could tell these guys were up to something special, as the guitar work is absolutely flawless and majestic. It is filled with acoustic passages, Teutonic bludgeoning riffs, technical riffs, and solid bass fills. Sure, this isn't the fastest or most brutal thrash created, but it's still pretty harsh sounding, and what it doesn't have in barbarity and savageness it makes up for it with its technical prowess and songwriting ability. This reminds me very heavily of Megadeth’s Peace Sells. As some of the densest metal I have ever heard there are many different passages going on at the same time in the music, and it will take multiple listens to hear all the great riffs, and inner joined riffs.

Marcel Schirmer's vocals sound downright evil on this record. He has a very similar vocal style to early Mercyful Fate but not as annoying, he also has some impressive screams that are very hard to hit. His technical bass playing is actually very audible on this record and he provides a very strong backdrop to the wildly technical guitar playing. The older records had inaudible bass playing and a much rawer sound but this isn't as raw as I stated before, but the production for all the instruments is far more balanced, so it makes the music more fluent, and more brutal to boot. The guitars are extremely technical and throw down some great riffs from the guitar duo Mike Sifringer and Harry Wilkens. The addition of Harry Wilkens was a great addition to the band as he is one of the most underrated players ever. I heard somewhere that he used to practice 15-20 hours a day, and from hearing this record it's not that hard to tell. His and Mike's riffs are very technical/ dense as they have many inner joined riffs, and off time riffs that you will need multiple listens to hear them all. "Sign of Fear" has one of the most technical guitar solos ever written because in flamenco guitar playing you could hear every squeak and scartch in the guitar, and to nail a solo like that with no mistakes is something of godlike ability. The other guitar solo that comes in the middle of the song has some insane picking that would wear out normal humans’ forearms, but unfortunately, Harry left the band long ago and no one knows what became of him. The man was an excellent guitarist that no one ever talks about and I feel his departure affected the band greatly because Mike cannot hold down riffs like these all on his own.

The lyrical themes explored on this album deal heavily with political topics such as government and corruption as well as other horror themes like murder and nightmares. An interesting track is "Sign of Fear" which actually deals with relationship problems. Overall a tremendous improvement over their earlier efforts and a huge breakthrough for thrash metal as a genre. This album I think spawned the technical thrash metal movement going on in Germany because nothing was this dense or technical at the time in Europe or America. In conclusion this is metal music for the thinking metal listener or someone looking for technical music filled to the brim with difficult passages, time changes, and off-tempo riffs. This is easily one of the best thrash albums released for the year of 1987 and a great improvement for Destruction as this album made them be noticed as a ferocious force in the thrash metal genre.

Standouts: "Dissatisfied Existence," "Sign of Fear," and "Release from Agony"

A band in agony - 55%

Felix 1666, November 4th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1987, 12" vinyl, Steamhammer (White vinyl)

After the vehement impact of Destruction's debut and two fantastic albums, the "Mad Butcher" EP showed first signs of a loss of quality that went hand in hand with a careful reorientation. But EPs are often used to show another, more or less experimental side of a band. Therefore, I was not afraid of "Release from Agony". I did not take care for the absolutely crappy cover, marvelled at the white vinyl and began to listen closely. Roughly 40 minutes later, I was disenchanted. I listened to the album again and again, but the effect remained the same.

"Release From Agony" lacks of sharpness, brutality and compelling melodies. Destruction still play thrash metal, although the emotional intro recalls the mild instrumental of the "Mad Butcher" EP. But the song structures are smoother than before. Of course, one can also call them more mature. However, I miss the cruelty of "Bestial Invasion" or the the certain degree of insanity, which showed up in tunes like "Confused Mind". I do not want to say that pieces like the acceptable "Dissatisfied Existence" or "Unconscious Ruins" are classic throwaway tracks. They are just not able to represent the face of Destruction that I appreciated most, because they do not show any signs of gorgeous rawness. Apart from these fairly usual tracks, the band proves its ability to take the wrong turn impressively. "Signs of Fear" wants to be atmospheric, but it is just lame and too long. I do not know why, but it seems as if the guitarists had the intention to show the (disinterested) world their technical capabilities, but the excessive instrumental parts do not work. Instead, they kill any kind of compactness. The bright sound of the guitars is not helpful, too. The squeaking axes lack of depth and too many solo excursion make it slightly difficult to follow the tracks. Unfortunately, the entire mix falls short of expectations, because it does not convey any feelings. It is neither dangerous nor menacing and any other kind of dark aura is also absent. Technically clean but harmless, this seems to be the right description.

The longer the album lasts, it gets more and more obvious that the band had serious problems to write interesting songs. Despite its relatively intelligent lyrics, "Incriminated" is absolutely dispensable. It offers neither stirring riffs nor solid guitar lines. Not to mention the stupid chorus which is free of any type of thrilling components. "Our Oppression" is not much better. Once again, the lyrics are carefully thought out, but the composition fails to offer unique elements. Aggravating this situation, the liveliness and the juvenile unconcern of the previous full-lengths are missing completely. However, there is at least one track which shows Destruction in good form. The riffs of the title track have that certain quantity of aggression which is needed in order to perform a gripping thrasher and the chorus combines catchiness and pressure in a balanced way. But this tune must not hide the fact that "Release from Agony" was unable to deliver the DNA of Destruction. At the end of the day, lead vocalist / bassist Schmier, the media-effective face of the formation, was fired and the remaining guys recorded "Cracked Brain", the last powerful sign of life before the downfall of the band began.

Destruction - Release From Agony - 90%

Orbitball, May 22nd, 2012

Destruction was always better as a 4-piece act and should've stayed that way because Mike can't solo and Harry simply shredded. I read somewhere that Harry used to practice the guitar 15 hours a day! It definitely comes out on this release. His leads are filled with amazing lines of tremolo picking, arpeggios and sweep picking. Mike isn't able to perform not even nearly what Harry did for the band. You can hear the difference in the lead tradeoffs.

The music on this thrash metal album is quality and wholly original. The riffs do stick to you and Schmier's vocals are of course wholly unique and it's easier to make out what he's singing about even on the song "Dissatisfied Existence". All of the songs are good, just the production is a little weak because of the band's financial situation at the time. I'd have to say this album and Infernal Overkill are the best Destruction releases. Infernal Overkill was another awesome album that had a poor production quality.

I love the riffs on "Unconscious Ruin" as well as the title track. But the song "Dissatisfied Existence" has the most memorable and unique sounds coming from the guitars. The leads of course were brilliant. If only the production sound was better I'd give this album a perfect rating. Since it lacked a little in that respect, I lowered my review score. Destruction doesn't really focus much on anti-Christianity on here. It's more about mental health issues.

The cover artwork was a bit odd and gruesome, but really original. This whole album in its entirety is unique. The metal guitar and Schmier's vocals are the biggest highlights here. The music is thrash metal to the core mixed in with some acoustic pieces as well as a neat introduction track. The music isn't extremely fast, but the riffs just stick in your mind and this is another release that you can listen to repeatedly and not get tired of.

Destruction's whole discography is good, but their newer material especially "Day of Reckoning" doesn't at all compare to the old and unique thrash metal they used to be. The good thing is that they've never changed their roots, but when Harry left the band, I don't think that they were the same. As a 3-piece they're still good, but the solos just really suck. The band seems to be putting out new material that's sounding the same all of the time. In the older Destruction days like Release From Agony and Infernal Overkill they were great.

The mixing was still good every instrument especially what gets left out from a release is the bass guitar. Not on this one though, Schmier's bass could be well heard throughout the album. Again the production quality lagged, but it's still better than their predecessors. If they put more money into getting a better sound, they would've been the best that they possibly could be. The good thing though is that since the technology isn't like it is nowadays, it forced them to have talent which they do have.

All of the songs deserve praise and the last track was a funny ending to an amazing album. Harry and the rest of the musicians gave it their best and it sure is my personal favorite Destruction release ever. Again, it's good that they still play thrash metal, but not as good as they used to. Songs here really are amazing and original as I previously mentioned. A great band and an outstanding release for the thrash metal community. Don't miss out on it!

not doing it for me - 54%

Noktorn, December 30th, 2011

I always want to say that I'm a Destruction fan, but I always stop myself short of it because I realize I can't name a Destruction album that I really enjoy a great deal. They have their moments, certainly, and some classic thrash tracks that are still undeniably worthy years later, but they've never managed to string together a whole album I really love. It's a matter of time and place, really: Destruction occupies the rather unenviable position of being the lesser of the Teutonic trinity rounded out by Kreator and Sodom. They never reached quite the same level of notoriety, and perhaps more glaringly never seemed to reach for the raw aggression and brutality of their two bigger brothers. While the Teutonic thrash style is present in Destruction's sound, compared to Kreator or Sodom, the band comes off as rather clean and Americanized- too close to Anthrax or Exodus to inspire a lot of confidence. "Release From Agony" is hardly an album that I can describe as offensive or even poorly constructed, but when placed in the harsh light of the scene the band grew from, it's hard to wholeheartedly recommend it when so many more enduring and influential works surround it.

Schmier's vocals are the primary antagonist here: whiny, sneering, and reedy, they don't convey any particular power and possess a tone that grates the nerves of anyone who can't stomach Mustaine's nasal snorting. The flaws in the performance are so omnipresent and distracting that it puts "Release From Agony" in a similar position as Mercyful Fate's discography for me: to get something out of the music requires staunchly ignoring the vocals, which only half-works when the performance in question is so staggeringly distracting. Down the road, Schmier would get his vocal shit together, but here he helplessly flounders, with the production pushing his performance way too far into the front to be entirely ignored. Speaking of the production: while a lot of people say this is the first LP in Destruction's discography with serviceable production, I'm not so sure- to me, it sounds claustrophobic and muddy, with a sloppy guitar tone and a sort of trundling bass presence which swamps the music with unnecessary weight. The songs on the album are light and nimble thrash numbers, but the production keeps them from realizing their true agility and sharpness.

Destruction is one of the few thrash bands who actually developed a rougher sound the further they went along in their career. After their terrible mid-period experimentation with post-thrash, they came back leaner and more vicious than ever before- "Release From Agony," on the other hand, comes off as pretty soft. By '88, just about everyone was rushing towards more and more extreme styles of thrash, but on this record, the band is still dwelling in the realms of Bay Area bounce with a slightly more aggressive rhythmic presence. The bigger problem than the softness, though, is a distinct lack of memorability in the songwriting. Partly a problem of production but more an issue of songwriting, the riffs tend to sound generic and uninspired, not delivered in an aggressive enough manner to stand out in that regard but not written well enough to really stick out in your brain. It's obvious at this point that Destruction was leaning towards a more technically inspired direction (Annihilator is a subtle undercurrent to many of these songs,) but this just makes for music which sounds like a fourth-rate Hellwitch. The solos are keening and the riffing is more complicated than usual, but it doesn't do much but make for clumsy passages which don't really go anywhere. You can see the symptoms of this in the drumming, which is forced into directionless, static patterns due to the self-indulgent riffing style: listen to just how long the percussion section is forced to do basically nothing over the course of "Dissatisfied Existence," in particular the section before the dueling solos. It's pretty painful to listen to.

For the most part, this isn't openly bad so much as misdirected and kind of generic. Oddly enough, I tend to prefer Destruction's material from 2000 and later to their more "classic" works; it feels as though they caught up significantly and stack up pretty well against still-running thrash bands of a similar age. "Release From Agony" is probably a no-brainer for people fond of the Bay Area style, but for the rest of us, there's more relevant and better Destruction albums (or Teutonic thrash) out there.

Ending life support in 3...2...1...and clear. - 83%

autothrall, May 20th, 2010

I've always held Destruction's album Release from Agony as a clunky elder sibling to the masterful Malleus Maleficarum by Pestilence. Both were produced by Kalle Trappe, and both have this extremely surgical sound to them which makes them stand out in a unique strata, even among the increasing wave of technical thrash present in the later 80s. In fact, this record is so ambitious and unapproachable to the average thrash fan that it probably did more harm than good to the band, less concerned with breakout hits like a "Mad Butcher" or "Curse the Gods" and more about the level of clinical extremity to which the band could impinge themselves.

They weren't alone in this, as the 1987 releases from Kreator (Terrible Certainty) and Sodom (Persecution Mania), the other thirds of the Big Three also exhibited an increase in the respective bands' artistic proficiency and prowess, and outfits like Mekong Delta were also arriving around the time. But Destruction evoked something here that is quite unique and difficult to penetrate, with walls of precision thrash punch riffing played at high speeds, and dominant, classical shredding that most thrash bands shied away from. They were no strangers to musical talent, as was obvious from the wealth of notation vomited forth on Eternal Devastation or the Mad Butcher EP, but here it is at its most blocky and unchecked, to the point at which it hasn't even been reproduced by this very band since. Cracked Brain would come close, but that album feels like a more accessible substitution, lacking Schmier's vocals (though André Grieder was a close approximation).

Release from Agony is a punishing presence, and a harrowing trip through a malpractice ward, late at night, beneath some city building, where no passersby can hear the victims' cries. Schizoid, frenzied rhythms writhe along before the savage, unforgettable sneering of the front man, your tour guide through this Teutonic lobotomy. The cover art is striking not only for its surreal, human exaggeration, but because that is EXACTLY what you will turn into after you've heard the music. The epic intro piece "Beyond Eternity" visits the threshold of neo-classical shredding over a brooding but wondrous ambiance, all to soon parting for the spiral descent into madness that is the album's title track, ripe with thundering, mute-heavy six string violence, and swift bursts of melodic delusion, climaxing in the obvious but firm chorus. "Dissatisfied Existence" is one of the more striking tracks on the record, with subliminal, cycling riff patterns that collide into another and then spike into your cranium. The leads beyond 2:30 are as demented as they are traditional, and you'll find your attentions bouncing between them as your mind splits vertically into its separate halves.

'Is it worth to be alive?
If I ever want to attract attention, it won't be for your affection
I don't know what I really want in my life and I don't remember whom I once believed'

"Sign of Fear" is the closest the album has to an 'epic', nearing 7 minutes in length, and slowly transgressing itself with a swell of muddied synthesizer or a flighty acoustic passage, to culminate in a grooving madness around 4:00 that is as sure to drive the last shreds of sanity from you, with its precise, winding streams of muted hostility and Schmier's near whispered ministrations, which I'm sorry to say, will NOT mend the wounds. The song is sick, and should be made illegal! Other striking numbers here include "Unconscious Ruins", which is a desperate rager, yet startlingly morose, coming very close to a classical orchestration made pure thrash. "Our Impression" is competent, does not stand out to me, where "Incriminated" is another example of the band's crashing lapse into madness, with turbulent dynamics and repulsive momentum. The closer, "Survive to Die" is nearly a manic and choppy as "Incriminated", though the way the band explodes into a micro-cover of the swing classic "In the Mood" almost through me out of the beams of the album's paralyzing stare. Like waking up from a nightmare. In fact, if you don't immediately replay the album, that is likely what has just occurred.

I mentioned a comparison to Malleus Maleficarum earlier because it is apt, and I do feel like this album is sort of a 'proving ground' for that one, a testing of the Kalle Trappe waters, though the two bands are not alike vocally and separated by an obvious national border. The Pestilence effort is far superior in most ways, with unbelievably catchy songs, but Release from Agony does function on a more dense and disturbing level. It requires a little more patience and comprehension than the Germans' earlier output like the crude Sentence of Death or Eternal Overkill, so it may not have that much appeal if you're just out for some shit kicking street thrash. This album is also a little under-produced. I feel like the tones get garbled and disjointed, as in a cerebral vortex, and it's not the best sounding of their pre-reunion catalog. Once in awhile, the bassist becomes lost beneath the twisting double helix of Harry and Mike, but not so for his vocals. Those gripes aside, its a mesmerizing and often haunting album, more technically inclined than the fare the band was usually known for, and certainly belongs mentioned in the same breath as other European headfucks like Deception Ignored, Punishment for Decadence, or The Music of Erich Zann.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Unleash the Sign of Fear - 84%

bayareashredder, February 15th, 2009

Destruction are arguably one of the most overlooked thrash metal bands. The last of the big 3 German trio of "tuetonic" thrash metal, along with Kreator and Sodom, Destruction probably achived the least amount of popularity and recognition. This could have been because the band really had a only a few "classic" albums with Release From Agony being one of them. Destructions lack of recognition is really quite a shame because Release From Agony is one hell of an album.

Release From Agony is the bands first album as a four piece with the addition of guitarist Harry Wilkens. Having a second guitarist gave this album a significant difference for this album compared to the first two records, Sentenced to Death and Eternal Devastation. Release From Agony features a lot of solos and some traditional trade offs between Wilkens and longtime Destruction guitarist Mike Sifringer. Standout trade off soloing can be heard on "Dissatisfied Existance", my personal favorite track on the album. The following track, "Sign of Fear" features some flamencco guitar work, something new for Destruction. The remaining tracks have a lot of really good soloing as well. The rhythm sections are really good too. Each track has a lot of fast and killer riffs with the title track being a Destruction classic.

Schmier provides both vocals and bass parts. Schmiers vocals are both understandable and haunting. I think he has one of the most unique voices in all of thrash, maybe even extreme metal. While singing in his mid pitched voice, he also hits some high falsetto screams. The final line on "Sign of Fear" is breathtaking. The bass parts are really good too. I really like it when an album has very noticeable bass. When I say noticeable I don't mean the bassist showing off chops, I mean the bass tracks aren't hidden behind the guitars. Schmier is very audible and still pulls out some good lines as well. Drummer Oliver Kaiser is another thrash great behind the kit. He is one of the many thrash drummers who help make thrash my favorite metal genre.

For the songwriting, Release From Agony features some of the bands finest material. After the short instrumental opener, the album gives out three Destruction classics. The title track and "Sign of Fear" have been on the bands regular setlists since the albums release. All the other tracks are great as well with "Dissatisfied Existance" and "Unconcious Ruins" being some of the better tunes. And as a little last note, the final track, "Survive To Die" ends with a little goofy outro after the final chorus, similar to how "Mad Butcher" ended with the Pink Panther theme song on the famous EP.

Although Destruction hasn't had another classic album since this, Release From Agony will always one of the many thrash classics that emmerged from the 80s. Get this along with their first two albums and EPs to add to your thrash collection.

Destruction's most overlooked effort - 89%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, September 23rd, 2008

Release From Agony can be seen as the most overlooked album by Destruction. More or less every single band with a long career back has a forgotten album, a good one that, unfortunately, was a bit buried by time and this doesn’t mean that is not worth a listen. This is the case for Destruction too, as I said. Maybe, after very influential releases back in the middle of the 80s, it was difficult for this one to emerge from the mud and conquer a good position. Anyway, this album should be also remembered for being the last one with Schmier in the line-up before the new millennium reunion.

Objectively, this album is very good and surely can compete with the same levels of its precursors because has inside few little gems that worth a mention. First of all, after the intro “Beyond Eternity” (made of solos and atmospheres) the first little jewel arrives and it’s the title track. Destruction here are awesome because they achieve the goal of creating a well balanced song. The galloping, total mosh tempo and riffs are perfectly mixed with a catchy and more melodic refrain. As always, Schmier is very good at the vocals with his typical timbre that makes him immediately recognizable. Even during the verses, the tempo is intense and the riffs are always numerous and in fast succession.

The production is less dry and essential, but don’t expect a too smart and polite one because we are always talking about 80s thrash metal and everything is audible and powerful without being too clear and modern. The guitars are the ones that acquired more power from the production. The bass is pounding and it comes out during the mid-paced riffs of the “Dissatisfied Existence” where there are fast tempo changes and up tempo parts right before the refrain. This time the guitars riffs have something catchier inside but I cannot talk about melodies because it’s hazardous, while the solos are less impulsive than in the past and somehow more bound to a general idea of giving support to the dark lines of the rhythmic session.

“Sign Of Fear” is something new for Destruction. The apocalyptic feeling and the oriental solo on the acoustic guitar are something you don’t expect and the slow march of the beginning is just great. The structure of the riffs is more complex but never boring, because always quite schizophrenic and catchy at the same time. The solos follow the melodic patterns. “Unconscious Ruin” is the classic hammered in terms of speed and violence with great, heavy galloping riffs and an easily recognizable refrain. “Incriminated” is quite dynamic even if it’s semi mid-paced song because the bass drum work is restless and the guitars are always a display of great riffs. There are sudden speed parts by the middle to increase the violence.

“Our Oppression” shows more complex riffs and fast solos at the beginning to increases in speed step by step. The stop and go with a fast restart is awesome. The guitars solos in this song are the best of the entire album for quantity and quality. The last “Survive to Die” shows great up-tempo by the drums, broken by less impulsive mid-paced parts. So often the sound of the snare drum reminds me the one in the Malleus Maleficarum album by Pestilence because it’s total impact and so wooden. By the way, this song is less impulsive during the refrain to accelerate with the verses and the instrumental parts.

I really can’t explain why this album is so overlooked. I think that any thrash metal fan should at least listen to it. Really, Destruction here are always great and they can prove it if you give Release From Agony a change. It deserves it. Ah, check out the final part, it’s so hilarious!

No agony for the lucky listener here! - 100%

Doomrock, February 15th, 2006

This album is (in my opinion) the greatest thrash metal record recorded by a band not called Metallica. Though a metal classic in it's own right, the fact that it is not listed in most lists of the greatest albums of the 1980s is a sin. This album should be in the collection of any person for whom headbanging can be considered their primary religion.

Embodying the phrase "all killer, no filler", this album will tear through your metal soul from start to finish, from the first strains of the dreamy Beyond Eternity to the candid rendition of the swing classic "In the Mood" that wraps up the end of Survive to Die. These tracks and everything in between are the stuff of legend, with twisted, bonecrushing riffs and a ferocious vocal approach by Schmier.

Destruction also showcases an insightful lyrical style uncommon to German bands, highlighted by Incriminated, an intense song about the difficulties of being a German citizen dealing with the haunting legacy of Germany's World War II dealings.

The guitar leads do the job, though you won't hear any of the neo-classical needling that was the popular style in this era. This is no knock on the guitarwork, as start to finish it will hold the listener's attention and make you want to reach for the nearest Flying V and shred away.

Release from Agony is a fondly remembered and still enjoyable album, but does not get anywhere near the accolades it deserves. It is still a testament to heavy metal. If this album were released today in 2006, it would sound just as strong as it did at it's 1988 release. I could praise this album all day, but I don't wish to interrupt your leaving for the record store and purchasing it.

Destruction's Best - 99%

BurntOffering, October 10th, 2005

This is one hell of an impressive album. Everything is clearly defined and production is great, every instrument can be heard perfectly making for some of Germany's best thrash ever. Destruction's riff master Mike goes on full gear here, so there is about 15 riffs a song!

The album starts out with "Beyond Enternity" a great little intro that shows Harry is a great new addition to the band and is no slouch at shredding. This sets the mood with some classical soloing and goes into the title track, Listen to that first riff. Insane Thrash right there. Schmier is at the best in his career he with power shrieks and whatnot and this is shown right from the begining. Amazing thrash break and then a nice solo top it off and we have some of the best thrash ever. "Dissatisfied Existance" has some very technical riffs supplied by Mike and continues the onslaught that the last track started. "Sign of Fear" is more midpaced and has some odd timings, as well as some very enjoyable drumming from Olly and a nice classical acoustic solo in the begining by Harry. Very catchy song especially in the vocal lines and soloing. Schmier's falsetto shrieks at the end own just about every other thrash singer including Don Doty. "Unconcious Ruins" is after that and holy shit, that is one insane riff sequence that they go through complete with some nice stops and breaks that totally work. You can hear the Watchtower and Fates Warning influence in this song in the riffage approch. Schmier has an amasing shriek when the first solo starts and then some a thrash break that is mind blowingly technical without resorting to wankery what-so-ever. "Incriminated" starts off a bit slower and then goes through some awsome riffs with about 100 tempo changes. There's some nice lyrics in this song as well. This song isn't quite a progressive in the riff changes, but rather uses the effect of coming out of nowhere and hitting you in the face. Melodic solos everywhere, Arch Enemy wishes they could sound this good. That solo backing.....pure genius. "Our Oppression" is another blugenous assault on the senses. It starts out a bit strange and the the riffs after that little break are some of the best thrash riffs ever. Catchy gang vocal chorus as well. Holy hell there is so many tempo changes that it surpasses Sepultura's Schizophrenia and that's no easy task. This album is so under rated it's not even funny. Everyone seems to look over it and the band hardly ever plays any of it live at all. The sad thing is that it contains some of the best riffs ever. Anyway......"Survive to Die" closes the album and is probably the catchiest thing on here. Oh yes, Best. Chorus. Ever. Nice riff between "Survive!" and "To Die!". They would take a similiar idea on "Creations from the Underworld" 13 years later on The Antchrist. Mike sure did a great job on that solo backing once again and the drumming is Gene Holgan style at times, not as insane, but is more effective than the usual thrash drumming. Oh yeah, what a way to end the album! Some people think it's retarded, but I found it humorus especially the first time I listened to it.

What we have here is the highlight of Destruction's career. Everyone puts out there full ablities on this album. If you like thrash don't hesitate to get this. HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially since I don't throw around a rating like 99% regularly.

Decent thrash metal - 71%

UltraBoris, March 22nd, 2003

The addition of a second guitarist may have just done the trick. This is a very competent album filled with nice sharp riffage, and mostly gone are the "what the fuck are you guys doing??" type songs of the first few albums - which were partly the production's fault, but also partly that of the songwriting.

The choruses are still a bit on the goofy and forced side... "Release! From agony!" But the riffs are well done... especially the main riff in Dissatisfied Existence, which is pretty much the effect that they were probably trying to go for since the beginning with Mad Butcher and the like. Plus the soloing is quite competent and enjoyable. They'd take this one step further on Cracked Brain, when they threw in a nice shrieky vocalist too, but here it is already pretty well done.

More great riffs include "Sign of Fear" - that's almost Dark Angel or Demolition Hammer in the guitar tone, and almost as great in headbangability! Six minutes of fun thrash. "Unconscious Ruins" is a bit faster, and has a very excellent middle section around 3.15 in.

Then, the highlight of the album - "Incriminated". Some great thrash moments not unlike a "Primitive Future" from Sepultura. Our Oppression is also very nice - they picked up the pace for these two songs and it works very well. And finally, the closer - more good stuff, especially that riff around 3.26. Oh yeah and the ending is pretty hilarious too! Where the fuck did THAT come from??

Yes, the album definitely gets better as it goes on. Sometimes it kinda plods along without much of a sense of direction, but the last three songs are excellent thrash metal. Worth getting just for those three.