Destrage caught my attention with their 2014 release; with easily the best album title ever, Are You Kidding Me? No. introduced me to a chaotic, unpredictable energy that was distinctly refreshing in what can often be a somewhat formulaic genre. The Italian quintet have now returned with A Means To No End, to be released through Metal Blade Records on October 21. Fun, furious, and frenetic, this record may be an even stronger release than their previous one.
The five-piece open their new record in an appropriately unexpected fashion with grating soundscapes and folky acoustic strumming. Though a far stretch from metal, the title track is undeniably intense, building tension as it builds into an epic, marching section backed by a choir. This introduction is jarringly interrupted by metallic riffing before exploding into an Every Time I Die-meets-SikTh musical combustion on “Don’t Stare At The Edge”. Bolstered by hooky, almost Southern riffing and a catchy chorus, Destrage demonstrate a control over their chaos, focusing disparate elements into a cohesive, powerful track.
First single “Symphony of the Ego” blends funky, reasonably Animals As Leaders-infused thumping techniques into Fortress era Protest The Hero chaos. Angry, atmospheric, catchy and technical, this song is quintessentially Destrage. Whereas many of their peers are almost mechanical in their musical delivery, Destrage are anything but; bringing to the table classic rock swagger, obvious instrumental prowess and Paolo Colavolpe’s expressive, versatile vocals, the band is fun, fresh and distinctly human. After the rage of the first three and a half minutes, “Symphony of the Ego” draws to an end with a more anthemic, restrained section.
Throughout the record, the band fire on all cylinders and fuse virtuosity, charisma, melodicism and anger into a vitriolic, potent combination. Instrumental interludes (“Ending to a Means”) and haunting acoustic guitars (“A Promise, A Debt”) provide a sense of pacing that breaks up the intensity of “The Flight”‘s rhythmic overload or the deceptively technical “To Be Tolerated”. The ominous “Abandon To Random” is a punishing and dynamic closer that, at seven minutes of length, displays haunting riffing, power ballad-esque verses and impressive guitar work. More than just an unbridled force of chaos, Destrage channel their creativity into powerful songs and, eventually, a well-structured album.
In A Means To No End, Destrage have crafted one of the most distinct releases of the year. Their SikTh-like scat-fueled delivery, System of A Down-esque quirkiness, Every Time I Die Southern swagger and guitar acrobatics à la Protest The Hero show a rearrangement of impressive elements into a sound that is uniquely theirs. Though some may dislike the unique timbre of their vocalist, I believe Colavolpe’s voice does nothing but highlight the diversity of the instrumentation, shifting easily from scat-like yells to deathcore lows and melodic, catchy choruses. Overall, I have no real complaints for the record, and I think any fan of adventurous progressive metal will enjoy this release.
Notable Tracks: “A Means To No End”, “Symphony of the Ego”, “The Flight”
FFO: SikTh, Protest The Hero, Every Time I Die, System of A Down