I'm sure everyone was hopeful that, after revisiting their catalog of classics with the Thrash Anthems re-recordings, Destruction would find some inspiration to rise above the din of their past few albums, each of which was but a shadow of The Antichrist, their 2001 epic. Not that Metal Discharge and Inventor of Evil weren't swell enough to avoid the suck-pile, but they were hardly blazing any new trails through the post-atomic landscape that their predecessor created out of the German thrash realm. To that extent, their next album D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. was a marginal success. It's nothing all that new, but there seems to be a slight bit of creative fire being lit here that simply doesn't fully manifest.
Each of the tracks' first letters spells the album title, a grand acronym, but this serves as little more than a distraction. "Devolution" is a positive thrust with some swaying, curving guitars in the predictable chorus, but it's not one of the better pieces here. Those belong to the brutal and caustic "Offenders of the Throne", with its steady, tank-like pace and howling, melodic vocals and chugging escalation; "Urge (The Greed of Gain)" and its labyrinthine battery of riffing and leads; "Inner Indulgence" and its warmer, slow-paced arching rhythms; and "Odyssey of Frustration" which is another Sifringer slug-fest. There's also a nice bonus track of Tank's classic "Shellshock" here (from their 1982 debut Filth Hounds of Hades), but you'll have to have the Japanese version of the CD, or listen to it online. The rest of the new Destruction origins are competent, and energetic, but in all honesty they're just sort of 'there', an aesthetic that has plagued the past few albums from being more than focused simulacra of the unexpected 2001 breakthrough.
That said, the production here is pretty rich, similar to Inventor of Evil and Thrash Anthems. All of the components are in place, and the band show no sign of aging whatsoever in their tireless crusade of Teutonic wrath. They do show a continued lack of effective chorus sequences, no less predictable than a "Nailed to the Cross" but nowhere near as powerful. I love the metallic chugs of the guitar as usual, but the riffs, while solid, are never all that individually ear bending, outside of the few tracks that I mentioned above. There are a couple of guest guitar spots from Vinnie Moore, Jeff Waters and Exodus' Gary Holt, but at least there's no trainwreck party anthem like "The Alliance of Hellhoundz". As for the writing, you don't really hear the tiny leaps in progression with these 21st century albums as you did in the 80s, and it might be time that Schmier and Sifringer considered trying to launch themselves along a more interesting, relevant and R.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N.A.R.Y. vector, rather than just putting out the same album time and time again with mild variations.
D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. is punishing and polished, but it's far from perfect, and you know they once again could be with some further time and effort.
Verdict: Win [7.5/10] (dead and buried in the stillborn ego)