Always one of the most berserk and unstoppable bands in the entire thrash scene, Destruction are celebrating their 40th anniversary in the only way they know how. Diabolical is the Germans’ 15th studio record, and like every one of its predecessors, this spits and howls its devotion to heavy metal from spooky beginning to thunderous climax. Eschewing the ultra-brutal modernity of recent albums like 2019’s Born To Perish in favour of songwriting that noisily echoes Destruction’s earlier works, founder and frontman Schmier has struck gold here. The departure of co-founder and lead guitarist Mike Sifringer might have destabilised a less ferociously focused band, but Destruction sound as vicious and distinctive on the opening title track and fiery single State Of Apathy as they ever did.
Diabolical is still monstrously heavy and sonically up to date, but from its knowingly goofy artwork to the haunting grandeur of overture Under The Spell, this is an album with the spirit of the 80s coursing through its veins. No Faith In Humanity rolls back the years to the speed-fuelled, runaway-train chaos of the early German thrash movement, but with several decades of experience and muscle memory ensuring that the impact is precise and brutal. Similarly, The Last Of A Dying Breed is a fiercely catchy and pissed-off anthem that ticks every conceivable thrash box with a spiteful flourish, while Ghost From The Past is heroically punk as fuck. Even at a morbid mid-pace, Destruction sound more like snotty upstarts than haggard veterans; Tormented Soul is a particular fine exercise in gnarly, malevolent chug.
Diabolical ends with an absurdly venomous cover of UK punk legends GBH’s City Baby Attacked By Rats. Forty years into his mission, Schmier still sounds like he wants to smash everything and drink the bar dry. Here is the soundtrack. Have at it.