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A band in agony - 55%

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