DESTRUCTOR
"Forever In Leather"

(Auburn)

01. Tear Down the Heavens
02. Skull Splitter
03. World of War
04. Damage Control
05. Unleashed
06. Precision Devastation
07. Unearth the Earth
08. Forever In Leather
09. Straight to Hell
10. Doomed to Centuries In Ice
11. Pounding Warriors

RATING: 8.5/10

Old-school metal bands don't get much more authentic than Cleveland, Ohio working-class bruisers DESTRUCTOR. After a well-received 1985 debut, the band signed to Island Records and was hard at work on their major-label debut when their longtime friend and bassist was murdered. The stunned group went into hiatus for years, reforming earlier in this decade and making their presence known through festival appearances and several EP releases.

Now, after still more hard luck and delays, the second DESTRUCTOR is finally on the shelves. You'd be forgiven for thinking this record's been on ice since the band's heyday, though — this is some loud, proud 80's metal that proudly flaunts its ANVIL, METAL CHURCH, RAVEN, early OVERKILL and "Kill 'em All"-era METALLICA influences on its snot-encrusted denim sleeve. Their label calls 'em thrash, and they are that, though they lack the vicious berserker mode of the Bay Area squads (and their hordes of modern-day imitators). This is that amorphous 80's sound that was part thrash, part power metal, with healthy doses of punk and arena rock dumped in like toxins into the Cuyahoga River and set on fire. The results are headbangin', and mostly fast-paced, but also eminently catchy and accessible in a soccer-stadium singalong kind of way, too.

Anything not ridiculously, obscenely metal is checked at the door – on the impossible-not-to-love "Skull Splitter", frontman Dave Overkill actually sings "kickin' ass/'cause it feels great!" Is that a corny line? Sure. And you might be the most ironic panty-waisted scarf-wearing eyeliner nerd in Emoville, but a minute into this song, you'll want to kick ass because it feels great, too. DESTRUCTOR tear through this album like John Belushi through the cafeteria in Animal House — loud, obnoxious, raucous, and so hellbent on having a great time and blowing the doors off that it's impossible not to want to hoist a can of cheap beer in the air and join in.

There's not a bad song in the bunch, from the breakneck pace of "Pounding Warriors" to the mock-epic "Forever In Leather" and the teeth-rattling gallop of "Tear Down the Heavens". Two, maybe three listens is all it'll take for these hoary anthems to sink into your brain like spilled beer into couch cushions, there to dwell forever and give off questionable odors. These guys first and foremost write great, memorable songs, the kind of tunes you could hear once in the back of someone's car and have stuck in your head for a week until you have no choice but to get the record. Songwriting skills and a lifer's conviction make for a pretty unbeatable combo, and here it makes for some killer tunes.

DESTRUCTOR is the sound of spiked leather and backpatches and denim jackets turned into heavy metal chainmail by sheer volume of one-inch circular band logo buttons. And hard to believe as it may be, it sounds and feels more real because it's coming from guys who've lived it since it was the new thing on the block. It's not retro, it's not vintage, it's not anything but heavy fucking metal, and like the band says in the title track, "it will never die." Fuckin' a-right.

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