Mad Butcher/Release From Agony/Cracked Brain (Reissues)

Part II of my Destruction reissue review series focuses on Mad Butcher, Release from Agony and Cracked Brain.  Part I contained Sentence of Death, Infernal Overkill and Eternal Devastation.  In 1987, 1 year removed from their amazing second album, Eternal Devastation, Destruction graced us with the Mad Butcher ep.  Years ago it was usually common for bands to release eps between full length albums and this ep marked an improvement in the production department.  A beefier sound then what was on the Eternal Devastation record.  The ep was more of a precursor to how they would fully develop, but only contained 1 original full length song.  The last track “The Last Judgement” being an instrumental, but showcasing the skilled guitar solos or showing off, is more like it.   “The Damned” is a Plasmatics cover-not too bad and the re-recorded “Mad Butcher” song is good, but not adding much difference than the original.  The new song, at the time, “Reject Emotions”-now this is where the meat and potatoes are. I remember getting a bootleg copy of the video for this song, from German MTV in 1987.  A melodic opening with some acoustic guitars and Schmier singing melodic before laying out a scream and then the heaviness comes in.  The rhythm section at the 1.26 part is the crazy awesome part, which Destruction just sounded like they were firing on all cylinders and at being over 6 minutes is a rather long song.  The tune had lots of killer guitar riffs, a great chorus and Destruction getting a but away from their heavy Slayer influence and developing their own sound even more.  One of their best songs-christ-those guitar riffs-terrific.

5 months after Destruction released the Mad Butcher ep, Release From Agony was dropped on the world with one of the most disturbing cover paintings of any metal album.  It’s thought provoking and gross. The title track picks up after the “Beyond Eternity” opening instrumental.  Nice beefy rhythm section.  I always thought the drums still sounded a bit off on the album, as if they needed a deeper bass sound.  But the production pretty much picks up where the Mad Butcher ep left off.  Killer riffs, fast song and the guitars were pretty damn dirty and heavy sounding.  Excellent chorus for the title track.  The 3.20 mark has a killer guitar solo, with some sloppy drumming over the fast section.  Hey Oliver Kaiser was not known for his drum skills-but he was serviceable.  “Dissatisfied Existence” has some monster riffing during the middle part of this track, after the faster parts slow down and more amazing guitar solos over the fast sections.  The solos are really a standout on the entire record.  “Unconscious Ruins” even throwing some polyrhythms in the mix, which was really not being done a lot back then.  Excellent bass guitar  strumming and excellent vocals by Schmier, as usual-he was always on point as a thrash metal vocalist.  Release From Agony, was and still is one of the finest thrash metal albums, not just ever released from Germany, but ever released!

I do not know the reason why Schmier left Destruction, but in 1990 Cracked Brain was released with all of the band intact, Harry and Mike still on guitar but also contributing bass to the album, since Schmier was no longer playing bass or singing for them.  Destruction brought on Andre Grieder, who was singing for the German thrash metal band Poltergeist.  Again after this album I stopped listening to Destruction and initially approached this album with caution, since Schmier was not on it and seeing the band had a cover on the album of “My Sharona”.  But the album cover drew me in and the opening title track is one of the best tracks Destruction ever recorded.  Super heavy, fast and Andre showing he had some good pipes which fit excellently with Destruction’s sound.  I can listen to this track over and over all day long.  In my top 5 of fave Destruction songs.  “Frustrated”, another great mid-paced song mixed with fast thrash riffs and excellent guitar melodies.   The tongue-in-cheek “My Sharona” is a goof of a cover, but I guess it shows Destruction’s lighter side, which they exhibited a few fun parts like this on the Release from Agony album.  “Die A Day Before You’re Born” is super catchy and another great song. Overall Cracked Brain is an excellent Destruction album.

High Roller Records did a great job with these reissues.  V.O. Pulver, at Little Creek Studios, is responsible for the remastering and the sound is spot-on, stellar.   The loudness is cranked up and as I said before these remasters sound like they are from original DAT tapes.  Very clear sounding and trull stellar work.  Each cd is housed in a beautiful slipcase.  The booklets contain pictures, vintage flyers, a poster and lyrics.  All incredible and well put together.  Just like the Part I series of the Destruction reissue reviews, these 3 albums contain no bonus songs.   I think High Roller could have added some live songs on each reissue.  If you like upgraded sound, then yes pick these reissue up-they are worth it, but go in knowing no bonus content.  There is another High Roller Destruction reissue-though; the Live Without Sense live album.  When all the slipcases are placed next to each other, it spells out Destruction and has the Destruction skull, from Infernal Overkill.  Super cool.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
May 22nd, 2019


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