After an absolutely amazing beginning to their career, it was only eventuality that DESTRUCTION would begin moving away from their raw roots and towards a bit more of a listener friendly direction. One could see it from their last album that it was happening. So when “Cracked Brain” arrived it shouldn’t have been a big surprise that the band would sound that way. No one could have foreseen some of the bigger surprises that awaited them on the fourth album.
I should begin though by stating this at the outset: “Cracked Brain” is a good Thrash album. Is it as great as many of the DESTRUCTION albums that came before it? No. It’s a nice little album that is still quite underrated in my opinion but it’s far from being great. It’s got some nice riffs and some pretty catchy songs and the instrumental parts have the band members putting together some nice chemistry. But it’s the following surprises that undermine this release.
Firstly, it must be mentioned that this is the first album to not feature Schmier on vocal or bass duties. He is sorely missed on it too. Although replacement vocalist Andre' Grieder does a fine job, he doesn’t have the energy that DESTRUCTION requires in a vocalist. He tends to use his higher register more and anyone that knows this band knows that they tend to play a little darker and angrier then high pitched vocals can pull off. Granted he does try to fit in better like on the track “Cracked Brain” or “Die A Day Before You’re Born” but he doesn’t quite fit in even then.
This brings me to the next surprise you have in store for you on “Cracked Brain”. DESTRUCTION are one of the three bands that created the German Thrash sound that tended to be more aggressive, more chaotic, and darker than a lot of the others. This album does not feel aggressive, chaotic, or dark for the majority of it. Rather than feeling like good German Thrash Metal this album might have been more fitting for fans of the Bay Area Thrash movement. It’s more melodic and lighter in writing instead of darker and aggressive. Not necessarily a bad choice for the band, as their new vocalist does fit this style better, but it really doesn’t feel like DESTRUCTION.
I am truly torn on this album. “Cracked Brain” doesn’t feel like the DESTRUCTION I have come to love and enjoy but neither does it fail at its purpose. It’s still Thrashy and fun but it misses a lot of the chaotic nature that set the band apart from the rest. Luckily, “Cracked Brain” still retains a lot of the great musicianship of the earlier albums with impressive guitar riffs and soloing and some amazing rhythm work from the drums.
DESTRUCTION has wandered from the path on this album a bit and it suffers too much from the choices made. It’s melodic and catchy but it feels at times that the band doesn’t have the heart to make this work as well as they could have. “Cracked Brain” works on a few levels but too many new elements just take the life from the band on this release.
Songs to check out: “Cracked Brain”, “Time Must End”, “Die A Day Before You’re Born”.
(Online November 10, 2008)