When you compare Eternal Devastation to its predecessor Infernal Overkill, it really feels as if the two albums should shift their positions in history. The dirty, bristling tones of this album feel somewhat more unruly than that effort, and the songs' ability to overcome their crude environments to impress with the guitar riffs and sneering, shrieking vocals is returned in full force. It's like the band took a step back in production but a step forward in the writing, and ultimately this is the best, pre-menopause Destruction along side of the Sentence of Death and Mad Butcher EPs. Basically, you could consider this Sentence of Death Part Deux: bigger, harder and un fucking cut.
Of course, when you're lead-in is a track as strong as "Curse the Gods", you're doing something right. Clean, catchy guitars get a whacked out distorted overlay before the amazing, complex propulsion of the riffs, and Schmier's amazingly pinched and frightening vocals. What better song to drink the death of the divine, to spit in the face of the righteous?! Few among the German thrash legends can compare to this, and it's 6 minutes of excellence with a moshable bridge that only intensifies its unbridled energies. "Confound Games" is not one of the album's stronger pieces, but the raging mid-paced intro to "Life Without Sense" more than compensates, with Mike wailing along with a lead that sounds as if he plugged in and improvised, sloppy but still successful. The verse/chorus exchange of this track is quite good, easily enough to get the blood flowing in all but the most jaded poseur.
"United by Hatred" shows a little more tact in its initial solo, and then a strong, flowing riff that feels like flossing with barbed wire, steadily building over the bass groove, and I don't think "Eternal Ban" needs much of an introduction. It's similar to "Curse the Gods", but even fucking better, especially the leads and the chorus. The song sounds far more vicious and mature than its silly headbanger unity lyrics might hint at, but those riffs speak for themselves, making this one of the best of the band's career along with "Mad Butcher", "Nailed to the Cross", "Thrash Till Death" and so forth. Instrumental "Upcoming Devastation" follows, with a very cool flow to its clinical, scary rhythms and some swagger to Sandmann's drumming, and the album is closed with another strong piece, "Confused Mind", which again turns towards a clean guitar intro before it crushes everything in its path with its writhing, fibrous ballast and Schmier's schizo ravings. That riff under the chorus? Mindblowing.
Despite its many strengths, Eternal Devastation was admittedly left in the dust by other 1986 efforts like Zombie Attack, Master of Puppets, Reign in Blood and Pleasure to Kill, but don't let that dissuade you, since most of those are beyond stratospheric accomplishments. This album has a lot of meat to it, and half the tracks are legendary. "Confound Games" does throw a little bit of a wrench in the works, and I feel the instrumental track would have been better served with vocals, but a day without "Curse the Gods" or "Eternal Ban" in my thrash oldies playlist would be a sad day indeed. The band's superb musicianship and lunatic vocals stand at the forefront of this recording, so much so that the production slightly suffers, but if you had no issue with Sentence of Death, then I can't imagine you not appreciating this also.
Verdict: Win [8.75/10] (too many people have died)