Home > Music > Destruction – Release From Agony (1988)

Destruction – Release From Agony (1988)

In the sequel to Eternal Devastation, the members of Destruction must put everything they know about music, plus what they’ve learned from the tech-thrash movement they (probably) helped inspire to seal away the Hairbeast, a horrific monster empowered by chemical warfare that devours men and lusts after women.

After their warmup in the form of the Mad Butcher EP, Release from Agony is almost a new band. Silliness aside, the Destruction of 1988 is significantly different from the one of 1986. A year before, a fellow named Olly Kaiser replaced the previous drummer, and a second guitarist (Harry Wilkens) joined up. As a result, everything on Release From Agony has a much thicker, denser sound than on the previous full-length, but the compositions are also more ambitious and twisted. Eternal Devastation was definitely intentionally loony, but in contrast to this, it’s a much more spacious, comprehensible album. Besides being compositionally denser, this one has a muddy production that contributes to its atmosphere.

Harry Wilkens brings to this album massive quantities of vaguely neoclassical shredding that modulates all over the place through rapid arpeggios. It does make a nice counterpoint to Mike Sifringer’s embellished riffs, to say the least. But while the guitars are creating their architecture, twisted and insane as it may be, the rhythmic foundation on which the album is built on is being intentionally distorted; songs contain significantly more tempo changes and odd amounts of riff repetitions, although the actual precision of the drumming is significantly greater than it was in the past. Needless to say it helps with the deranged atmosphere. Marcel Schmier’s vocals are about the same as they were on the previous album, although they seem to have regained a slight amount of the harsh growliness that they had on the Sentence of Death EP that started their career. Whether the band is simply trying harder or they simply got better at writing and performing (probably a combination of both), this album is definitely a better artistic statement than its predecessor.
This, of course, does not necessarily mean it’s more fun to listen to. Even on Eternal Devastation, the band kept some of its innately goofy elements (remember the cover art?). Besides, that was a simpler album that was easier to parse. I’m not saying that Release from Agony should have been simpler; rather, it would probably benefit more from being even more complex and demented, perhaps if it had bled into death metal. Now, in 1988, there was a great deal of thrash metal that did cross the line at times – probably the most relevant example is Pestilence’s debut (Malleus Maleficarum),  a fairly technical bit of death-thrash that actually shared a producer with this album. Meanwhile, Sadus’s debut (Illusions/Chemical Exposure), Kreator’s Terrible Certainity, and a variety of other albums from this period basically were what Release from Agony could’ve been. Either way, if you’re a fan of that approach, you’re probably a fan of Release from Agony, but if you’re just interested in exploring Destruction for the first time, I suggest you start at the beginning.

Highlights: “Sign of Fear”, “Unconscious Ruins”, “Incriminated”

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