If you can get past the really boring album art on "Saints," the debut of San Diego's Destroy The Runner is actually quite (and here I'll use a word that's not a word) listenable. It doesn't offer much sound-wise that's different than every other metal-core band out there -especially established acts like Haste The Day and Unearth- but it does have a more positive message, and certainly a more melodic, almost old school sound to it that the kids seem to enjoy.
The album opens with an instrumental and goes through the motions of a regular fast metal album very well. The band is tight; they've got good rhythms, solid break downs, enough lead parts, roaring screams, and the throwback singing parts that I mentioned. However, it just left me lukewarm. I definitely didn't dislike it, but I wasn't jumping up and down and making people at nursing homes listen to it like I was with some of last year's debuts. The title track is strong, and starts with a great riff, but then diverges into some singing choruses that left me flat.
"The Aleph" rocks. I love that song as well as "From The Red" and "Sound of Reason," and selections from the middle that had the perfect mix of melody and hard-driven riffage. I really long to hear less overproduction in albums like this, however. Too much streamlining and cleaning up ruins the live garage noisiness that is at the heart of this kind of music. There are a few producers out there who are holding off on the filters and the tweaking and giving the music the voluminous room-filling sound it deserves instead of trimming and filtering and noise-reducing it into a needle thin simulacrum of the band's original sound.
Where Destroy The Runner differs is in their lyrics. There are plenty of bands with positive messages and plenty of bands that are hardcore enough to melt paint off of bulkheads, but ne'er the twain shall meet. "So many metal bands are all about death, destruction and depression, and it might seem like there is no hope, but we're saying that there is," says 20-year-old frontman Kyle Setter. "I always write about my personal convictions and experiences." Unquote.
Now, I browsed the lyrics card in order to quote something sugary and positive, and didn't find anything along those lines. What I found was a struggle, and a desire for strength laced with a refusal to surrender. This album, and indeed this genre, is no place for dancing bears and walks in the park, but it did lack that overbearing rage and abject darkness that is usually the status quo.
The weakness here comes in the medium, not the message. Hopefully some more experience and more exposure will bring these guys success, which in turn will necessitate a second album. Until then, I will wait in anticipation for something from Destroy The Runner that I can really sink my teeth into. ...And better album art! I can't emphasize this enough. It doesn't have to be ravens eating small children, just something more interesting than Carahadras on an overcast Wednesday.- Review date: 11/4/06, written by Sean Lex
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