Destruction - Eternal Devastation review


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Band: Destruction
Album: Eternal Devastation
Release date: 1986

01. Curse The Gods
02. Confound Games
03. Life Without Sense
04. United By Hatred
05. Eternal Ban
06. Upcoming Devastation
07. Confused Mind

Oh, what could have been.

Destruction were a band who were plagued by bad luck, having so much potential eroded by bad decisions or a bad roll of the dice that the fact they are where they are today is testament to how much talent they have, to overcome the odds and at least get to the position they are in. Eternal Devastation is probably one the of the biggest pieces of evidence to support this, an album crafted with some of the best thrash in the world, let alone Germany, but handicapped by one of the worst productions jobs in the world (let alone Germany) as well. What could have been one of the best releases from one of the Teutonic big 4 is instead left to stand in the shadows of Kreator and Sodom.

I don't usually open and focus on an album's production, but it is the elephant in the room. I don't know what possessed Neuner during the production of this record but whatever it was must have been hard of hearing because that is the only reason I can think of why Eternal Devastation turned out the way it did.

Spartan would be a short way of describing what has to be one of the worst production sounds I've heard; even as a fan of hardcore records like Damaged or other lo-fi thrash albums such as Bonded By Blood, the production job is weak as dishwater. Only during the intro to "Life Without Sense" and "United By Hatred" does the production have any power to it, the rest of the time it sounds limp. The guitars sound like they were recorded on the cheapest guitars they could find and on the smallest amp available; it sounds like a kid in their bedroom, which is a damn shame given Mike is playing some top quality riffs. Schmier's bass is mostly inaudible save the odd bump here and there; it is very much in the background behind everything else. Tommy's drums are clear, but have no power beyond their natural strength; apart from balancing each drum in the mix it sounds like little was done with the drums. The only element that does ok with this production is Schmier's vocals, but it's a pyrrhic consolation given that he can only compensate so much for the rest of the mix.

It is a real shame the band sound like this, because Eternal Devastation is wall-to-wall classic after classic if you can appreciate the material underneath. Each track can stand on its merits and live up to the claim of being some of the best European thrash going, if you get a chance to see the band live you will be able to fully appreciate what a collection of material the band had here (if you are unable to, then I highly recommend Thrash Anthems and Thrash Anthems II). In its current form here, you can hear songs that sound ready and willing to crush faces and smash places, but are limp incarnations of what they could be.

I can't pick a favourite from the record, given that each track is equally as strong as the last. "Curse The Gods" is one of the most poignant barbs against religious hypocrisy, while "United By Hatred" is a barrage of riffs that lead you through some of the best tempo changes while never losing any momentum. "Life Without Sense" veers far from standard metal topics and sings about societal values of sick/differently abled persons and how much strength such people must have; tackling such a topic and being a strong song to boot will keep it firmly in your mind for a long time. The band do rack up the cliché metre as well, with "Confused Mind" and "Confound Games" dealing with insanity in a standard way, albeit with a killer soundtrack behind them.

Mike gives each track some great solos and rhythm work, showing himself to be one of the unsung thrash musicians of the 80's. The verse riff to "United By Hatred" is catchy and different to many a standard rhythm line, while the guitar work on "Eternal Ban" shows that he can put his foot to the floor like anyone else but do it better at the same time. Tommy is able to switch between tempos to imbue a song with (what should have been) power or a groove that keeps you hooked and listening in throughout. Schmier's bass I'll give a pass on; like Newsted on …And Justice For All, it's barely there to be able to fairly give it a go.

Destruction had victory ripped out of their hands and instead were left holding a hollow consolation prize; Eternal Devastation could have been the best thrash album to come out of Europe, let alone Germany, but in its current form it is damned with the "could have been" prefix. Highly recommended for sure but with one heck of an asterix placed against it.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 4


Written on 25.08.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments: 2   Visited by: 10 users
02.09.2020 - 20:41
Troy Killjoy
I haven't listened to this in a long time but considered it a favorite among thrash releases back in my high school days. I can't remember taking issue with the production but I'll have to revisit it soon and see if my opinion has changed, assuming the nostalgia factor won't be too significant.
"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something."
30.03.2021 - 13:43
"The Quaker"
Performance is not a 9. Drums and guitars get real sloppy at times just barely putting things on time. It makes it more raw but that's more of a side effect than the intention. But yes the production is what weighs it down so much. Schmier's vocal skills became much better after the debut, it's a shame it turned out to be like this. They did the songs some justice after the reunion.

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