As the rise of social media and online accessibility hit the 21st century, the globalization of the metal genre became quite apparent. While there were communities already present, it seems in the past decade there has been a greater awareness of metal on an international level from France and India to Japan and Australia. For this review, we'll zoom in on the Italian scene as major groups including Lacuna Coil, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Hour of Penance, Rhapsody of Fire, and Ephel Duath come to mind. Although I'm hesitant to consider Italy a current striving hub in the metal music industry, I see much potential, especially in the experimentation of this act.
Consisting of vocalist Paolo Colavolpe, guitarists Matteo Di Gioia and Ralph Guido Salati, bassist Gabriel Pignata, and drummer Federico Paulovich, Destrage has previously released three studio albums, the last through Metal Blade Records. In the fair assumption that this group likely hasn't fully surfaced to the masses of the US quite yet, I can predict this fourth LP, A Means To No End, will turn some heads and raise some brows.
The title track opener is a calm piece to lure you in to "Don't Stare at the Edge," which is pretty killer, but mostly just a demonstration of the band warming up. Once we arrive to the LP's third song, my attention had been completely surrendered to the band. "Symphony of the Ego" is an absolute delight and has one of the most memorable vocal melodies I have heard all year. I'm unsure of if it is the result of a slight Italian accent mixed in, but there is an utterly unique vocal delivery. Furthermore, the distorted growls come in and reveal the massive range and personality in a manner similar to SikTh.
Past the first few tracks, it becomes obvious that Destrage is wielding a large palette of stylistic variety, almost to the extent of avant-garde classification. While most would confidently label the group as progressive mathcore, they certainly have an appreciation for the fundamentals of metal and dig deeper on a majority of these compositions. For example, "The Flight" definitely has an unexpected classic thrash metal vibe and "Dreamers" strings together djent, alternative, and death metal together smoothly.
Taking a brief break from all this musical praise nonsense, I'd say it's important to bring this full circle back to the concern of internationalism. If it's not obvious enough, there must be difficulty in gaining proper recognition and exposure being a band located in a country that does not exactly hold a sustainable market for metal music. I'm hoping this release proves such a sentiment false, but my optimism and applause can only go so far where a growing fan support is far more necessary. With that being said, if your curiosities are at all piqued, I advise trying the tracks I mentioned above because the entirety of this record holds more-or-less the same amount of top quality.
With Dissociation being their final hoorah, I think it may be appropriate to claim Destrage as the next generation's Dillinger Escape Plan. Perhaps a bold statement, but there seemed to be multiple connections between this album and the output of TDEP in regards to genre-fusion and subtly contagious melody. I also hope such a comparison does not pigeonhole or form assumptions as A Means To No End is a densely layered concoction of intelligent prog, tense mathcore, tasteful djent, and melodic alternative metal rather than the result of riding on the coattails of a legendary group. Lastly, I'm hesitant to use the word "masterpiece" or "perfect" to encapsulate my feelings towards this album where it isn't absolutely consistent, but it certainly has a lasting and mesmerizing affect to which I highly recommend.