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Devastation > A Creation of Ripping Death > Reviews > robotiq
Devastation - A Creation of Ripping Death

Blistering early death metal... - 82%

robotiq, March 22nd, 2020

Dig around in the archives of early death metal and the name Devastation will crop up. When it does, it is always in reference to this Chicago band, not the more famous (and less interesting) Texan thrashers. Chicago's Devastation never made an album but released some influential material. The band were more historically important than the relative absence of reviews on Metal Archives suggests (Napalm Death covered them on "Leaders Not Followers: Part 2", for instance). They were well connected in the scene and their demos were traded internationally. Strangely, they seem to be less well known in 2020 than they were at the turn of the millennium (when I started checking out old death metal demos).

The band's first demo ("A Creation of Ripping Death") features Troy Dixler on vocals (he would join Sindrome soon after this). Dixler has a charisma and conviction which few death metal vocalists can match. He is almost certainly the best death metal vocalist from the early days of the genre. He can growl, snarl, rasp and scream. He also pronounces his words properly, having more natural flair than the likes of Schuldiner, Lee, Speckmann or Becerra. The fact that you can distinguish what he is singing benefits Devastation massively. The lyrics are above average for death metal, "Awakened from Death" works especially well. Lyrics like "Moonlight dancer, necromancer...." may look cheesy when written down but they sound evocative when Dixler spits them out. He is not merely following a recipe for death metal vocals here; he is inventing the template through raw expression of aggression. The result is ‘death metal vocals’ as we now know them. His style was influential on others, including LG Petrov.

The music is an aggressive, intense collision of thrash, punk and death metal. It sounds like a blend of Slayer and Master. It isn't dissimilar to the first R.A.V.A.G.E. (i.e., Atheist) demo either. There are lots of choppy, thrashy rhythms and fast breaks followed up by chomping grooves and mid-paced sections. The soloing is tasteful and chaotic. The drumming is simple but effective. There is a smidgen of Hellhammer spookiness, but for the most part it sounds very American. There is a lean, sharp, streetwise aesthetic which would later be used by bands like Demolition Hammer, Solstice and Morbid Saint (I prefer Devastation's approach by far). The production is great for a debut demo. The guitars are crisp, the vocals sound incredible, the drums are slightly too loud but that doesn't detract from anything. All four songs are distinctive and energetic. "Apocalyptic Warrior" is my favourite and sounds like a prototype for something on the Deicide debut (e.g., "Blaspherereion").

Devastation sound great in comparison to other extreme metal bands of the time. They're not as crushing as Master, as sinister as Possessed or as rabid as Insanity, but they have a laser-sharp focus and are much more threatening than any thrash band (excluding Slayer). Devastation's second demo is excellent as well, showing improved musicianship (especially with the drumming). Still, I feel that this debut demo is their definitive death metal statement because of Dixler’s vocal performance. Great stuff.