Stopgap releases are a fact of life in metal. The gaping maw of the industry is a demanding bitch-goddess of a master, and if you're signed, and you're not METALLICA, you better have something to throw into it on a timely schedule, or else. Why else did you think otherwise intelligent and quality minded bands would force upon us useless crap like "Live Scars", "Hidden Treasures", or any number of bad live albums? Did you really think labels reissued everything six times because they wanted you to have the best possible version of a record?
Sometimes, though, there's actually worth to these non-album fillers. DESTRUCTION reunited their principal members, Marcel "Schmier" Schirmer and Mike Sifringer, in 1999, and together with drummer Marc Reign, they're a well-oiled machine again at this point. On top of that, many of their classic albums from the '80s were recorded on a shoestring budget, and have never been well-distributed in the States. The band has gone into the studio and knocked out a lucky thirteen classics, taking advantage of modern-day technology (and, let's face it, vastly improved playing ability) to give these golden oldies a lethal focus.
It's neat to hear favorites like "Total Desaster" and "Mad Butcher" with all the heaviness and volume new gear can muster. And unlike many long-running bands, this lineup actually acknowledges the time when Schmier left the group, re-recording 1990's "Cracked Brain", the title track of that year's ill-fated album. Two new tracks are included too, "Profanity" and "Deposition (Your Heads Will Roll)", neither of which really distinguish themselves among this batch of classics, but are decent songs nonetheless and would fit well on the band's post-reunion releases this decade.
A minor quibble is that the whole production seems a bit bass-y and low-end heavy, which can occasionally give an air of samey-ness to the songs (to be fair, that's also partly a fault of the material — I love old DESTRUCTION as much as the next guy, but there are definitely instances of too much of the same ol' riffing in the old tunes). More importantly, the question arises — do we really need a new, improved version of something the faithful still love in its imperfect, warts-and-all 80's form? That's a question for endless message-board debate: the fact remains, though, that if you do want to hear modernized versions of these thrash anthems, "Thrash Anthems" will fill the bill quite nicely.
DESTRUCTION are to be commended for not only reuniting, but for continuing to deliver quality thrash and touring like a hungry band half their age. "Thrash Anthems" will be a great history lesson for those who were too busy shitting their diapers to buy "Release from Agony" or "Infernal Overkill" the first time around. It'll also blow a lot of cobwebs off the circuits of the old-timers' minds, and just in time, too. Thrash 'til death (or at least till old age), and support those who managed to put thrash on the map without any newfangled internets or MP3 downloads.
NOTE: The track listing above does not match the artwork that's making the rounds online; however, it is the order on the CD sent to us by Candlelight.