Together with countrymen Kreator, Sodom, and Tankard, Germany's Destruction make up the "big four" in Teutonic thrash metal. Like so many bands, they fell under the spell of the emergent New Wave of British Heavy Metal as classic metal met the D.I.Y. ethos of punk rock, then evolved into thrash metal. Destruction was part of the second wave of thrash metal in the mid- to late '80s, along with American bands including Testament, Sacred Reich, Death Angel, and Dark Angel. Early albums, including 1985's Eternal Devastation and 1987's Release from Agony, are considered genre classics. While they disowned much of their self-released 1990s output, they roared back with 2000's All Hell Breaks Loose for Nuclear Blast. They signed to AFM Records for 2005's highly regarded Inventor of Evil, and 2008's D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. before returning to Nuclear Blast for 2016's Under Attack. They signed with Napalm Records for 2022's Diabolical.
Formed in 1983 as Knight of Demon, the band changed its name to Destruction just weeks later. Further, their original sound, which was deeply indebted to Iron Maiden, shifted to one heavily influenced by Venom during the same period. The original lineup brought together towering vocalist/bassist Marcel Schirmer (aka Schmier), guitarist Mike Sifringer, and drummer Tommy Sandmann. Looking to take advantage of the bustling worldwide tape-trading network responsible for breaking most of the '80s biggest heavy metal bands, the trio immediately set about recording and circulating its Bestial Invasion demo to critics and fans alike. It wasn't long before Germany's premier metal label Steamhammer came calling with a record deal. Destruction's Sentence of Death EP was released in 1984, and followed soon after by 1985's Infernal Overkill LP. Both were surprisingly proficient, exceedingly well-received affairs fueled by raw aggression and youthful energy, and Destruction toured Germany with Slayer later that year before taking part in the legendary WWIII Festival in Montreal, Canada, alongside Celtic Frost, Voivod, and other extreme metal bands.
After returning home, Destruction got to work on 1986's universally acclaimed Eternal Devastation. Founding drummer Sandmann left the band shortly before a tour with countrymen Rage. Sodom's Chris "Witchhunter" Dudeck stepped in until they found a permanent replacement in Oliver Kaiser. Additional guitarist Harry Wilkens was also recruited and, after testing this new lineup on 1987's Mad Butcher EP, Destruction delivered what most critics and fans alike consider their finest album, 1988's Release from Agony. That said, some fans took umbrage, as the newfangled quartet's more technical, almost progressive direction rubbed purist constituents the wrong way. After being chosen as touring opener for Celtic Frost's Cold Lake tour (an album the band disowned) they internal suffered discord on the road. Popular frontman Schmier was unceremoniously sacked shortly after the release of 1989's Live Without Sense to make way for "more capable" replacements in vocalist Andre Grieder (ex-Poltergeist) and bassist Christian Engler.
Feeling betrayed, upset fans made their feelings known by staying away in droves from 1990's Cracked Brain album -- despite an overwhelmingly positive reception from critics -- as well as subsequent offerings like 1994's Destruction, 1995's Them Not Me (both EPs introducing new vocalist Thomas Rosenmerkel and guitarist Michael Piranio), and particularly, 1998's career low The Least Successful Human Cannonball. Schmier formed a new band called Headhunter and busied himself with the operation of his own restaurant. He couldn't, however, resist the opportunity to reunite with former partner-in-crime Sifringer and drummer Sven Vormann; the trio relaunched Destruction at the dawn of the new millennium and signed to Nuclear Blast.
They issued All Hell Breaks Loose in 2000 to enthusiastic fan reception, while 2001's The Antichrist, and 2003's Metal Discharge (featuring drummer Marc Reign) were welcomed by critics and re-established their touring popularity. 2005's Inventor of Evil, 2007's Thrash Anthems, and 2008's D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. all appeared from AFM Records.
Destruction returned to Nuclear Blast for 2011's Day of Reckoning, their first album to feature drummer Vaaver. Spiritual Genocide followed in 2012, coinciding with their 30th anniversary. Under Attack, the band's 14th studio long-player, dropped in early 2016. A sequel to 2007's Thrash Anthems (aptly named Thrash Anthems II) arrived in 2017 and was followed two years later by the widely acclaimed full-length Born to Perish.
Nuclear Blast released the live Born to Thrash in 2020, their final outing for the label. After signing with Napalm Records in early 2021, the label released Live Attack. Destruction followed with six singles for the independent High Roller Records to keep the new material flowing to fans during the COVID-19 pandemic. They returned to Napalm for 2022's full length, Diabolical. Produced by Schmier, it contained a surprise cover of G.B.H.'s "City Baby Attacked by Rats," as its set closer. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia & Thom Jurek, Rovi
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