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Destrage - Are You Kidding Me No[3rd March 2014]
[Metal Blade Records]

01. Destroy Create Transform Sublimate
02. Purania
03. My Green Neighbour
04. Host, Rifles & Coke
05. G.O.D.
06. Where The Things Have No Colour
07. Waterpark Bachelorette
08. Before, After And All Around
09. – (Obedience)
10. Are You Kidding Me? No.

There’s a lot of debate about the usefulness of genre-tags – especially within the heavier genres. How far down do you drill before it just becomes silly? Blackened post-psycore? Progressive djentstep? Southern folkadelia?

It’s always refreshing, then, when a band comes along and slaps any hope in hell of pigeon-holing them right out of the equation, and instead invites you to just enjoy the hell out of what they have to offer. Italian quintet Destrage are one of those bands, and their new album Are You Kidding Me? No. is an electric middle finger in the face of compartmentalisation.

It’s actually perhaps more down to the sheer range of styles that this is accomplished, and trying to pin just one on them is an exercise in futility. In fact, the only other band to segue into as many off-kilter and seemingly unrelated sections across the space of an album is Between The Buried And Me. The bluegrass solo in “Ants Of The Sky” or the classical Spanish guitar in “Disease, Injury, Madness” are paid a spiritual homage by the orchestral drum and bass breakdown that closes “Destroy Create Transform Sublimate” or the Mexican trumpet piece that acts as the centrepiece for the title track – amongst a few other gems. Such efforts could so easily come across as one-dimensional attempts at being “progressive”, but they all work beautifully well in the context of each track in which they feature.

Because above all, AYKM?N is a fun album. It mixes the skillset and tightness of every single member into a blender and spits out 100% grade-A goldstuff, but it knows where to bring in the right riffs and solos; where to jam out and when to build. Each song has its own identity and hook, and there isn’t a bad one across the ten of them. High energy barnstormers like “Hosts, Rifles & Coke” and “- (Obedience)” are juxtaposed by the delicate composure of “Where The Things Have No Colour,” whose accelerating and bassy opening acoustic guitar line is an absolutely stonking lead-in for a really big-riff centrepiece song.

On its surface the album seems pretty political lyrically, and somewhat anti-establishmental in its leanings. Apart from the title of the opening track, the record is littered with references to military spending and religion – but the deeper you delve, the more its humanistic slant comes across. There’s revolution in the air, but with a mind to improve society as a whole; not just to tear down the system. “My Green Neighbour” is a fun look into why we like the idea of zombies so much (because it’s politically correct to shoot them in the face, obviously), but really it digs into concepts like jealousy of our fellow man (“by killing them we proclaim we are different // I fear, I need, I hate my green neighbour”). On top of that, it has some magnificently techy riffs and duelling dual vocals that are the something wild SikTh fans have been waiting for since 2006.

Are You Kidding Me? No. just oozes quality across its very being. It defies convention in all the right ways, but pays its dues where necessary. Technical in places, with a strong sense of melody, the right amount of aggression and proselytisation, and an immediately charming aspect, this is the album to really push the band into the limelight, and for all the right reasons.