Album Review- The Chosen One by Destrage (Metal Blade Records)

Italian progressive metalcore band, Destrage, have released their 5th studio album called The Chosen One via Metal Blade Records.

Destrage formed in 2002 releasing their debut full length, Urban Being, in 2007. They have steadily released albums every 3 years or so with their most recent effort, A Means to No End coming out in 2016. Destrage are a metalcore band at source but are very progressive, showcasing a lot of other genres and styles throughout their albums. They actually categorise themselves as djeah-core on Facebook but that’s a new one for me. We have enough sub genres so I am going to pretend I didn’t see that and stick with progressive metalcore.

Destrage are Paolo Colavolpe on vocals with Matteo Di Gioia and Ralph Salati on guitars. Gabriel Pignata is the bassist and Federico Paulovich is on drums.

The Chosen One is 8 tracks or 38 minutes of music. It is immensely interesting as an album though I am not entirely sure if I love it or just like it’s quirkiness. It’s a busy album with lots going on and regular switches between musical and vocal styles. A lot of those switches keep things fresh and exhilarating as they switch between AOR to deathcore to rock and everything in between.

The album starts with the title track, The Chosen One. We get underway with a lengthy guitar solo before a squealing effect starts building in the background. It all explodes into a furious riff and blistering drums. The vocals are harsh and heavy and mixed with the groove tones of the riff, it sounds a bit Devildriver. Not for long though. The verse moves through at hyper speed with vocals switching between a higher toned shoot and deep growls before we move into silky smooth cleans, all over a banging riff and pacy drums. It’s a good start but probably my favourite track follows, in About That.

It all starts normal enough with a slightly off kilter guitar line and heavy drums. Vocals are shouted with a bit of punk attitude. There is a funky prechorus that’s works brilliantly that leads into a huge stadium rock chorus with smooth cleans. A heavy breakdown follows combined with sudden stops for a rumbling bass line. Another quick verse and prechorus leads into a high pitched solo and then back into the cracking chorus. With so many transitions and styles on show, we are only half way through the song.

The Chosen One

A little breakdown drags us into a furiously heavy section with a punishing riff and growled unclean vocals. We go from this into a ballad like clean solo and from there into echoed clean vocals and a slow rhythm. This gentle, soothing section repeats for a bit before suddenly switching back to a punchy metalcore riff and beat until the end. It’s amazing that it works as a song. It’s busy and shoots off in so many directions making it a little hard to follow at first but a few listens in, when it clicks, it’s a wonderful experience.

The mix of styles comes at you all the way through The Chosen One with much of it driven by the bands amazing vocalist. Hey, Stranger sees a pretty standard rock riff used with crunching drum patterns and rock and roll vocals. The chorus is fantastic and so far removed from metalcore. In fact other than the drums and occasional slamming riff or growled vocal line, we are operating in hard rock here.

At the Cost of Pleasure sees us in with a thick, bass heavy riff and thunderous drums when bang, it stops and we are in a soft rock, cleanly sung section with an acoustic guitar. Before you have a chance to say “what the hell?”, we are back into a deathcore slam with deep growls and spine shattering riffage. The track switches back between the two extremes throughout sounding like a song with a split personality. Mr. Bugman decides they haven’t been quirky enough already so starts with weird sounding, out of tune muted guitar notes before jumping into a wicked groove. Vocals are delivered in a really neat style, almost spoken but with a little curve. There is a ton of backing vocals adding even more depth over a pretty heavy riff and impressive drums. Again the chorus is absolutely brilliant, something Destrage obviously excel at.

The Chosen One

Rage, My Alibi starts is off with a ballad style of singing over a nice melody. It switches from this into a really heavy riff that is bound to get heads banging. A squeal of guitars leads us into a section I am not sure about as we move to spoken vocals over an electronic drum and bass rhythm. It’s made better by the transition from it into another insanely good chorus. A minute of breakdowns and riffing nearing the end are well received but again the switch to 20 seconds of drum’n’bass to close, I could live without.

Headache and Crumbs is the penultimate track and keeps the creativity going with some interesting guitar lines and switches between cleans and heavier blasts. It is probably the closest to a standard song on the album thus far. With so much on show across The Chosen One it also makes it the least memorable. Not bad at all but just less to remember.

We end on The Gifted One and I’m expecting a big ending. We start off with a beautiful but sorrowful ballad. Gentle vocals pour out over a nice melody before a smooth switch to a heavier riff. Still very much in ballad territory at first though eventually picking up to a furious riff and punishing drum rhythm. Vocals turn to death metal growls before alternating between clean and uncleans, heavy riffs and melodic lines through to the end.

The Chosen One is a real conundrum of an album. Impossible to pigeonhole into a single genre, it is expansive and creative, a mixing pot of sounds. Destrage have a unique edge to themselves and it makes The Chosen One a fresh and exciting listen. That excitement doesn’t always transcribe into enjoyment though. There are songs on here I have listened to 20 times over and I am still not sure if I love them or hate them, particularly Rage, My Alibi.

I guess that comes with such a large mix of genres. If you throw this much in you’re likely to occasionally chuck in a few elements that aren’t for me. On the other side of that though, when they get it right they are unstoppable with songs like About That being up there as some of the freshest and most exciting songs I have heard in a long time. Whatever way you fall on The Chosen One, the one certainty is it needs to be heard.

The Chosen One is available now on all the usual streaming platforms. You can grab a physical copy from EMP here. You can also check out Destrage’s Bandcamp page here for a download of the album as well as previous releases. Find out more about Destrage at their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

The Chosen One by Destrage (Metal Blade Records)
  • The Final Score - 8.5/10
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