Saturday, March 7, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Devastation: Devastation Complete 1987-1989 (2010)

I just recently got my hands on a copy of this compilation of Croatia's Devastation, an excellent Thrash Metal band with equal parts late Heavy Metal/Early Speed Metal and Hardcore Punk roots. This makes for a potent mix of styles that is bound to get Metalheads going, it sure does for me!

This release consists of the band's 1987 Demo, 1989 Demo, live tracks, and rehearsal tracks. It includes extensive notes on each song in the booklet. My copy, which came from the band, also included a DVD-R of a live show of the reformed band in 2010. For information about the creation of each song and anecdotes, the liner notes are quite good so I will try to refrain from parroting that information back.

1987's “The Upcoming Mayhem Demo” starts with a noisy intro, over which spoken vocals promise some sort of impending destruction. The demo really kicks off with the following track, “Devastation” which has the intensity of a punk song melded with the toughness and catchiness of a Speed Metal track. Perfect unity! Basically a rallying call for fans of the band to go nuts, I'd lose my mind if I ever got to hear this live.
“Atomic War” is a bit heavier on the metal side versus the punk side on the guitars but we still get some great D-beats on the drums. Again, a uniquely perfect blend of hardcore punk and early-80's underground metal. The song is notable also for extensive guitar solo battling. The chorus is guaranteed to stick between your ears!

The demo has a competent cover of S.O.D.'s “United Forces” up next, followed by “Under the Scalpel Blade” which further ups the NWOBHM/Speed Metal influences of Devastation's Thrash Metal. A catchy guitar riff and vocal melody make this track a treat for me every listen. Admittedly, the guitar riff sounds a bit like an early Metallica riff, but that's not a bad thing in my book!

“Mosh Hard” is a bit of a filler instrumental that feels more like an instrumental cover of a Judas Priest song in its composition. This one had potential to be great, it just needed some excellent vocals and a few more hooks on the guitars. Still a good track on its own, but weaker than others on the demo.

“Slaughterers From Hell” brings the pace back up and closes the album with some more D-beats and Destruction type thrash riffs. The vocal delivery is more raw too, even on the chorus.

The compilation follows with a 1987 live version of “Atomic War” that is interesting for its place in the band's history, even if the quality is poor. Following that is a 1987 rehearsal version of “Slaughters From Hell” of pretty decent quality for a rehearsal. Next up is a 1988 rehearsal version of “Queen of Death” and “Atomic War.” Again, interesting for its place in the band's history and pretty decent quality.

The rest of the tracks on the compilation comprise 1989's “The Possibility of Life's Destruction” demo. The first track is a re-recorded version of “Devastation” which is notable for the increased vocal echoes and more confident delivery, however the demo quality isn't as good as on “The Upcoming Mayhem” so the guitars lose some power in the mix.
“Necromancy” follows with a super-tough riff that is way more harsh than any previously heard from Devastation. The vocal delivery is also more raw and harsh, devoid of the usual melodic chorus line. The riffs are very interesting, at times slow and almost like Black Sabbath, tough and pissed like Negative Approach, with D.R.I. elements, and even extremely fast to the point of proto-grindcore at others. This is really the riffers paradise of the album, so much to digest!

Next up is a great cover of Discharge's “The Possibility of Life's Destruction” followed by a tighter version of “Under The Scalpel Blade” which has similar differences from the prior demo as “Devastation” does.

“Naplam Fields” gives us more harsh vocals barked over a fast guitar riff that sounds to be equal parts noise and grind.

“Bigmouths Suck” is catchy and fun, I think we can all get behind the lyrics. The riffs are fast and have great and brief chunky breakdowns done right! Overall, this track again skates the edge of Speed and Thrash Metal in style and composition. Devastation provided a recipe for Bazillion Point's “Hellbent For Cooking” which I adapted to be vegetarian and re-dubbed “Bigmouths Suck Soup” I suggest you try it, it's delicious!

Okay, so tangents temporarily on hold, the next track is “Dead Zombie” which gives us an energetic beat to start, speeds it up only to slow it down and toughen it up. The track then speeds right back up and again slows for some heavy chords. I can almost imagine a human running from a zombie, being bitten, dying, coming back as a zombie, then dying again to be a 'dead zombie.' The vocals kick in about here as the riffs stay very fast along with the drumming, D-beat bordering on grind, with heavy extreme Thrash Metal vibes.

A re-working of “Slaughterers From Hell” now simply “Slaughterer From Hell.” This version has, I feel, the same differences as other re-recorded tracks on the second demo.

Next up is a cover of “Queen Of Death” by Gordi, who I will have to look up because this is a pretty cool track that feels like Venom/NME kind of vibe, albeit a bit faster at times.
“World In A Grave” is a slow, noisy track meant and able to carry all the weight and atmosphere the title suggests. It's a slow and moody way to close out the album before the outro, a sample of Chopin's “Funeral March.”

I highly recommend picking yourself up a copy of this album, it can be found on If you can get a version with the live DVD, I recommend that too. It has a show from 2010, I think. The band still has lots of energy and the quality is quite good. Come to the States Devastation!

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

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