It’s Thursday afternoon and a parcel plops through the door. There’s a note attached. Note reads: ‘Dear Worship Metal, we made this album for you. All the best, Destroyers of All.’
Okay, so it might not have happened quite like that….but it might as well have done! Progressive death metal that cites the likes of Death and Cynic as influences gets our juices flowing at the best of times and nothing beats putting that kind of technicality, groove and fearlessness in the hands of people who know what they’re doing. We’re talking about people who really, really have this music flowing through their veins and lo and behold, here they are – Portugal’s very own Destroyers of All with their debut full length release, Bleak Fragments, on Mosher records.
So, you’ll be expecting ridiculous time signatures, outrageous guitar playing and song structures that stick at least sixteen middle fingers up at the Beatles and all their verse, chorus, verse shite, eh?
Okay, we’ll concede that there are some elements of that on here but there is more besides. A lot more. While these guys are definitely prone to the odd sudden textural change mid-song, first and foremost Bleak Fragments rocks like a three-legged table. At times they riff like Pantera, at times it’s as if Morbid Angel are in the room, a little blast of Maiden appears here and there and the occasional quacking guitar solo a la Slash back when the ‘ol top hat still had fire in his vodka-tank. Yeah this is prog, but it’s prog that holds your hand before diving head long into the mosh pit, with you in tow!
So, we’re pretty much sold! Destroyers Of All are five able musicians fronted by a vocalist who can cover the full spectrum from moody spoken word, to percussive growl and on to over-the-top falsetto. In many ways the confidence and diversity of the vocal performance unifies this band and everything they try on Bleak Fragments works, even when it is at its most ludicrous (“Speed of Mind” being one prominent example!). Some of the material we found positively dizzying as it rips from harmony twiddles, to stomping groove riffs and beyond into symphonic metal pomp with gang vocals; you name it, they deliver it. In fact, it would be easier to list what these boys can’t do. Hell, they even throw in a bit of Portuguese folk music and some jazz just for the thrill of it!
Overall, we just can’t believe how fathomlessly intricate and adventurous these tunes are and we thought long and hard about what score to give this album. In the interests of being balanced and critical, we tried to focus on moments where perhaps a sonic experiment didn’t come off, where the vocalist sounded a bit ragged, or perhaps where there was a weaker song. However, there are simply no moments like that on Bleak Fragments. From the textural showcase of “Hollow Words” through to the folk-tinged set piece of “Tormento” and then back up in your face one more time on closer “Day of Reckoning”, Bleak Fragments is a blood diamond of the upmost purity.
Suffice to say, we are in utter awe of the talent displayed by Destroyers of All. Therefore….10/10