WORDS: Tim Redman
Some bands should need no introduction. Aussie legends DESTROYER 666 are one such. Led by K.K. Warslut these are underground veterans who’ve been slogging along in the live trenches for years putting out quality releases every time they enter the studio. With their last full length album Defiance now seven years old and only a compilation of difficult to find tracks following a year later on To The Devil His Due to tide fans over, expectations around Wildfire have been huge. But does the loss of guitarist Shrapnel, who has been such a key part of the sound since the band’s first full length Unchain The Wolves, affect them? Do the Australian greats continue their twenty year run of perfect form?
The album kicks straight off with a Traitor and a shriek that wouldn’t be out of place on a JUDAS PRIEST album. All of the elements that make up DESTROYER 666 are here as the track pounds along, with the ripping riffs all over the place and the iconic snarls of the bands frontman one expects. Second track Live and Burn takes all of these elements and kicks them up to eleven. A fast paced track the riff here is guaranteed to get necks moving and the drums compliment into it perfectly keeping it speeding along. A chorus made for roaring along with completes the song, making it one of the best tracks on the album and no doubt a firm fixture into a set list strewn with classics. Following on from this is the first real example of the band doing something different on this album in the form of Artiglio del Diavolo. An entirely instrumental song that has some really nice riffs, it nonetheless feels slightly out of place on a DESTROYER 666 record.
The riff continues to run straight into the following track Hounds at ya back with begins quietly, harking back to songs like Trialed by Fire from the Terror Abraxas EP. This feeling continues when the track does kick in with a slower, almost melodic riff, which allows the band to rein in some of the fury without losing any of its passion. Lyrically the song deals with the concept of loyalty with the first chorus providing a chance for the band to kick the tempo back up. The chorus is another part of this album that shows evidence of a change of style with a more traditional metal structure to it sitting alongside the Black/Thrash aggression that has defined the band until now. While DESTROYER 666 have used cleaner vocals before this track is the first example that they are going to play a bigger part of the sound in future.
Hymn to Dionysus is another track that begins more slowly before descending back into the more aggressive style the band have perfected over the years. The track provides a chance for new guitarist R.C. to show he can live upto the legacy he’s been handed and he performs adequately. The tracks slows again towards the end, allowing for the lyrics praising the ancient god of decadence to shine through. Wildfire is another contender for track of the album as its kicks the door from the off. The fast snarling delivery of the vocals and speed with which the band rips through the track are sure to please fans, as is the quality of riffs on offer.
The next track is White Line Fever which offers in its title some suggestion of how the band have managed the consistent energy they’ve produced over the years. The track again makes more use of K.K. Warslut’s clean vocals than on previous releases. Lyrically the song deals with the synonymous stimulant as well as with the bands more typical wolves and women topics. Die you fucking pig! Looks out of place on the track list for a DESTROYER 666 album and suffers from not being on a par with the other of the material here. It’s another attempt to do a faster paced aggressive track that lacks the riffs or power of delivery expected from it. It simply isn’t on the level fans have come to expect from this band.
Closer Taman Shud is going to divide fans. Stylistically it is similar to A Sermon to the Dead off Defiance in that it is a slower paced track with a more epic approach to the vocals. However halfway through it becomes something closer to the recent material PRIMORDIAL have been putting out with the vocals becoming hauntingly snarled over a more choral backdrop. Despite having many of the aspects that DESTROYER 666 are known for this track is something of an outlier.
So how does the album hold up? Well it’s not the second coming of Cold Steel… that a lot of fans were hoping for. The main problem with Wildfire is that the sheer quality of prior material the band has to draw on means that anything less than perfect will be seen as a drop in quality in comparison. This is a good album, the use of more traditional metal elements within the bands iconic take on the Black/Thrash style is refreshing and something unique. Overall a very good album, if a somewhat disappointing one for DESTROYER 666.
Wildfire is set for release on February 26th via Season of Mist