Destruction - _All Hell Breaks Loose_
(Nuclear Blast, 2000)
by: Matthias Noll (6 out of 10)
Reunion time again. Be it public interest, money or whatever that has spawned the resurrection of the legendary German thrashers, it might not be financially dangerous for anybody involved (quite the contrary, I assume), but I think at least Destruction's own legend and credibility is at risk. The Germans and their label have done their best to raise expectations to a high level: producer Peter Tagtgren, references to the days long gone with bullet belts, coloured contact lenses (where are the inverted crosses?) and song titles like "The Butcher Strikes Back". With the release of this record it's time to look behind the hype and let the music do the talking to show what Destruction have to offer in the third millennium. First of all, this album, musically, is not a return to the style of the three classic releases _Sentence of Death_, _Infernal Overkill_ and _Eternal Devastation_. The retro factor is kept to a minimum. Decide for yourself if that's what you want; I give them loads of credit for not playing it safe. While opener "The Final Curtain" is propelled along by a typical Destruction riff, their year 2000 style is far more complex, less straightforward and fast than one might expect. Every song features loads of riffs, breaks, tempo changes, pre-chorus and bridge sections, and that's my main gripe with _All Hell Breaks Loose_. Less technicality would have resulted in more power and ultimately better, more cohesive songs. Too many of Mike's impressive riffs start to grab you by the throat and unfortunately the next break for the sake of adding another break is only seconds away. While the first half of this record is strong enough not to suffer too much from excessive complexity, later tracks "Visual Prostitution" and "Kingdom of Damnation" are hardly more than filler material, and I think it's no coincidence that the OK-ish remake of "Total Desaster" is placed on position 10 in the track list to regain the listener's attention. In general, _All Hell Breaks Loose_ reminds me a lot of the complex thrash metal Forbidden delivered on their later albums like _Green_ or, to a certain degree, the instrumental style of Nevermore on their more thrashing tracks. Adding up to this, Schmier's highly improved vocal delivery also does sound a lot like Forbidden vocalist Russ Anderson, and when listening to this record for the first time the moments where his voice sounds familiar are more rare than one might expect. Of course Tagtgren has given "All Hell Breaks Loose" a good sound, but it's definitely not superior to the rather samey Abyss jobs of late (Sunlight/Morrisound syndrome revisited?). Overall this is a decent record, featuring professional musicianship, five or six good tunes without a real standout track, and I would recommend this to fans of technical thrash metal as well as long time Destruction lunatics. On the other hand, I have to say that bands of the fifth or sixth wave of thrash metal like Defleshed have learned how to outshred their idols and I don't see anyone giving _All Hell Breaks Loose_ another spin in a couple of months after the initial Destruction-reunion bonus has worn off.

(article published 12/8/2000)

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