*** Go to our YouTube channel in the link below to see the video review of this record in episode #6 of the SBR Album of the Week.
Italian metalcore progressives, Destrage, left Metal Blade Records after releasing three albums via their imprint between 2014 and 2019. In a sign of the high regard in which their peers hold them, it’s no surprise that the boys in Periphery snapped them up for their 3Dot Recordings label for album number six. Periphery’s direct distribution channel via Century Media is another advantage for the Italian quartet. Yet a glance at the artwork suggests they might be heading in an Electric Callboy direction. Should we be worried?
Destrage have always had an eclectic – not to mention schizophrenic – element to their music, and SO MUCH. too much, is no exception. The band make it their mission to exorcise the more extreme metal side of their art in the first half of the record with some of the most exquisite shred patterns and violent contortions in their back catalogue. Opener, ‘A Commercial Break that Lasts Forever’, is a reminder that English lunatics, SiKth, left a mark way beyond London at the beginning of this century. Vocals fly in from all directions, guitar lines slice through the speakers like Buckethead at his ravenous best, and the drums accent everything as if playing a serious game of hungry hippos. Yes, the guitarists cram as much as possible into the song, but you’ll discern a conventional structure built around a catchy chromatic chorus hook. The same applies to ‘Everything Sucks and I Think I’m a Big Part of It’, which starts like Fear Factory clogged up in violent staccato mode before it launches into a maelstrom of Veil of Maya glitches. Blast beats, snippets of R&B pop, and illuminous Devin Townsend choruses make this one of the strangest compositions in their discography. How do they navigate from light vocal harmonies and spacy synths to the tech metal brutality towards the end?
On the surface, ‘Venice Has Sunk’, reminds you of the glory of The Dillinger Escape Plan with Mike Patton EP from 2002, but a closer analysis reveals the true range of Paolo Colavolpe’s vocal register. Parts of this song are art-house, other sections are gore house, yet underneath it all is a confident experiment with tuneful harmonies and crooning lullabies. Of course, there’s always an element of chaos waiting to cause devastation. Lead single, ‘Italian Boi’, talks of the male stereotype who lives with his mum at age thirty and takes his food seriously, and it also showcases a talent for using synthesisers as the main focus rather than the usual metalcore window dressing. Think Daft Punk with a vicious bout of Meshuggah and a glorious Devin Townsend uplift to pull back from the carnage. Apparently, Hevy Devy features on ‘Private Party’, but repeat listens fail to identify where he makes an appearance – maybe he plays guitar? French lounge metal weirdos, Tranzat, operate in a similar sphere to this one.
Side two of SO MUCH. too much moves beyond the cataclysm of vicious tech metal and into more colourful pastures. This is not at all detrimental to the listening experience. Paolo Colavolpe shows here that he is just as serious about the Lennon & McCartney harmonies and English new romantic croons as he is about the more aggressive side of his art. ‘An Imposter’ is the first foray into melodic metalcore, yet the synth glitches and shred patterns keep it anchored in chaos. You’ll ask on ‘Is it Still Today?’ if there is anything this band cannot do. The psychedelic echo effect of the clean guitar arpeggios and watery vocal pitch give way to grungy riffs and prog metal vistas in under five minutes. ‘Vasoline’ and ‘Unisex Unibrow’ make you wonder if the band studied the sophisticated melodies of pop just to see how much they can sabotage them with the destructive might of metal.
Progressive metalcore is the tag that follows Destrage around, yet their violent dynamics and bright colour palette embrace a stranger fruit for consumption. This music is too unpredictable and its bipolar character too paranoid to dwell in a longform prog metal paradigm. The motto seems to be “why choose two dishes when you can have a bit of everything on the menu?” Closing track, ‘Everything Sucks Less’, is the ultimate outlier – how about light crooned melodies reminiscent of the 1968 classic, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society?
Sometimes, the determination to be different can lead to incongruency, but Destrage show here that using the entire colour spectrum is the best way to sustain your levels of excitement.
Release Date: 16/09/2022
Record Label: 3Dot Recordings
Standout tracks: A Commercial Break the Lasts Forever; Everything Sucks and I Think I’m a Big part of It; Private Party
Suggested Further Listening: SiKth – The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait for Something Wild (2003), Tranzat – Ouh La La (2022), Dillinger Escape Plan with Mike Patton – Irony is a Dead Scene EP (2002)