Yup, to hell with it folks, I’ve had enough. After two years of struggling with trying to find a cozy genre for band after killer band, I’ve finally met my match. A while back, I made a reference to Alice and Wonderland, and to how deep this musical wonderland we call Lady Obscure would take me. And time after time, bands have pushed me further and further into areas I never knew existed. I would have a band come across my desk, and think “ok, this has to be the end, it can’t get any more insane…” than a week later it does with another band, but this time, I am truly frightened folks. The culprit? Italian metal band Destrage and their third studio release Are You Kidding Me? No. These guys basically took all the accepted genre norms and even the outskirt ones, threw in some eclectic elements like folk and electronic, made a big pile of it all and lit the thing on fire. Then gave said fire the middle finger (or whatever gesture Italians use) and proceeded to blow me away like very few bands have on the first go around.
Destrage formed in 2007 in Milan, Italy. Founded by two previous studio releases, Urban Being and The King is Fat’n’Old, and an onslaught of eclectic and electric live performances, they went to the studio to record their third album. Now one thing they haven’t done since before that first studio album is change their line up. These guys are beyond tight, and their music reflects it enigmatically. This rock solid lineup consist of vocalist Paolo Colavolpe, guitarist Matteo Di Gioia, guitarist Ralph Salati, bassist Gabriel Pignata, and drummer Frederico Paulovich. What these guys do is bring a full boat of musical chops, and with precision lay them down in a multitude of layers that initially seems chaotic and exciting, but upon consequent listens, just keeps getting deeper and deeper, Let’s look into some of this stellar album, Are You Kidding Me? No.
The album waste exactly zero time until kicking into hyperdrive with Destroy Create Transform Sublimate, an aural onslaught that will leave anyone with a pulse breathless. Starting off with some clever guitar, the track moves in layers through alternating clean/growl vocals, then drops the hammer with the pure growl segments that pairs with some guttural riffs, the type of stuff that makes rooms explode. Colavolpe’s vocal work throughout the album is perfection, alternating between three vocal styles, the clean, the scream, and that deep throaty growl. In all, his tone and inflection are flawless, and only enhance whatever variation of the multitudes that the band runs through on the album. Guitars? Yeah, these guys got the chops in spades, to the point where other guitars can only wish they were being torn up by Salati and Di Gioia. Pignata stays deep in the pocket of the bass, doing a stellar job of the grueling task that is keeping the pace of the madness. And as to Paulovich, his standard could serve as flare and fills for most other bands. The band deftly moves from each variant in the song, until really fucking with me by moving into a total electronic section, that though it is sonically completely different from the rest of the track, feels right at home.
And that’s just the opening track. Song after beastly, ear assaulting song, Destrage just nails it on every level. The skill levels of the individual performances is exceptionally high, and across the board, there are no mediocre showings, no mailing it in here. Having watched a few live clips of these gentlemen, it’s blatantly clear that whatever they do in the realm of music, they approach with a raw and unique brand of zealous insanity. In full force mode, as in Hosts, Rifles, & Coke, they let the fury run amok with a base layer of holy shit that they drop some shocking guitar work on, hammering every riff home like they owe the band money and are paying in blood. Waterpark Bachelorette has that same fury, but is a bit more playful in nature, letting that raw punk vibe that hides in a lot of the songs on the album really shine through. Some songs, such as the ending and title track Are You Kidding Me? No., stretch their skills to the limit, and each band member handles it with aplomb.
This track brings to mind the real star of the album, the writing. While the title track has a rather standard opening, it finishes with a furious progressive build up of a basic Latin folk riff played on a trumpet (yes, you read that right folks). With this core, they add and add layers, creating a steamroller of sound that borders on genius. And it’s not just in the insane, punk, or violently aggressive metal parts that their writing shines. Where the Things Have No Colour brings with it an atmosphere that harkens to the more brilliant progressive rock side, a side that again, they just fire on all cylinders with shocking skill, having the trademark soaring choruses and epic riffs all wrapped around a desperately pleading lyrical element. This is songwriting that many bands strive for, and for Destrage it actually seems outside their standard zone, but they still execute it with ease and a genius sense of grace, a level of songwriting that seems to be a standard with Destrage no matter what genre they are making their bitch for the moment.
Destrage is the raw, unaltered chaos of the human mind put to music. It bypasses all the bullshit that society and culture has placed on my being, all the norms that I’m supposed to behave by, and speaks to that very rough part of me that craves soothing. Built around a basis of hardcore punk and metal, then through brilliant work on instrumentation, vocals, production and songwriting, they manage to turn into something unheard of and unique. This level of aggressive music is usually outside my zone, I tend more to the softer prog metal and hippie old school prog, so when an album in this arena of really hard metal hits me to the point where I can spin nothing else for a week, it points to something truly special at work. When it makes me go back and do a complete discography purchase, that my friends is a rarity for sure.