Thursday, June 18, 2015
Destruktor - Opprobrium 
By now everyone's acknowledge that once you begin your foray into the Australian metal scene, purposefully or otherwise, you will unanimously be assailed by some of the most malicious and angry troops in the global black, death and thrash perspective. That doesn't mean that every partisan of the black/death or 'war metal' phenomenon is bound to be a direct offshoot of the country's notoriously quizzical mavericks of chaos (i.e. Portal) who created more buzz along the internet and the spread of the underground than the quivering, sludgy guitar tone which they harness with their album ''Swarth'', because really, relatively more straightforward acts like Assaulter, Destroyer 666, Vomitor and Destruktor are probably more into booze and offensively fun devilry than esoteric imagery and obscure lyrics. Among its band of cult followers, Destruktor's debut ''Nailed'' left quite a lot to be desired, especially since the group leans more toward traditional death metal more than the kind of convoluted profanity conjured by the likes of Bestial Warlust and Blasphemy, so I imagine the same group of drunkards were salivating buckets just to get their hands on this....
And to be frank, I'd say ''Opprobrium'', the groups sophomore, is an improvement over their debut, both in terms of production and overall song writing. This isn't as big a leap as it is from a firecracker to a dynamite, mind you, and it did take the Aussies 6 years to get there, but we have it nonetheless. The LP retains a surprising level of clarity in terms of production, making it far more audible and 'safe' than at least 80% of its peers, but the guitars, while still broiling and grainy, are nowhere as muffled and distorted as Portal of Impetuous Ritual, and like most beer-infused black/death acts there's a greater focus on the dynamics sections with fierce, linear tremolos and eruptive patterns of simmering chords, with occasional black/speed/heavy riffs redolent of Midnight or early Bathory: so it's safe to say there's a fairly wide spectrum of sounds being offered on the plate here. The debut always felt like a hellish garble on most points, but Destruktor have stepped up the influence of filthy black/thrash and Morbid Angel/Angelcorpse here (without amounting to anything technical) and add to that sparse pool of swelling Scandinavian black metal tremolos and you have yourself a genuinely pissed off and visceral plateau of nearly any extreme metal ingredient belonging to 1984-1993 stuffed in one gnarly package.
Interestingly, The Aussies don't always run on the same track as their rudiments here, as exhibited from the final piece, ''Forever the Blood Shall Flow''. With the morosely pessimistic and lyrical title, huge, looming tremolos and a very 'black metal' melancholia, the track is almost instantly removed from the rest of the record. Of course this kind of monotonous flirt with Scandinavian black metal a la Darkthrone, Ulver or early immortal doesn't keep anyone agog for a very long time, and this applies to the entirety to the album. The drums, for one, pale out with textbook simplicity and a rather annoying tone on the snares, and the vocals are never front, hamstrung by the guitars and scarcely delivering any of the diabolical vocal enjoyment I might glean from a band like Deathhammer or Witchery. There are some good moments, like on songs like ''Besieged'' where the band marries their ravenous speed to a hooking riff, but aside from that, despite the slightly greater sense of fulfillment over the debut, ''Opprobrium'' feels a tad stale, especially when in such a devastating and busy market of zircons dedicated to the devil. For what it is, ribald, inebriated evil, this certainly grinds a good number of poseurs, and if you were taken by their debut ''Nailed'' or any other Australian rabbit hole of filth and unceremonious fun, this is still a good pick. Stay vengeful.