[14 February 2010]
Hailing from the suburbs of Dallas, the Destro are apparently concerned with one thing, and one thing only: being heavy. Everything on the band’s second album, Harmony of Discord, is built around the chugging guitar playing of Nick Emde. Drummer Jono Garrett plays along to whatever rhythm Emde is doing while vocalist Eric Daughtry growl-shouts mostly unintelligible lyrics alongside or sometimes underneath the sound of the guitars. Oh, and the band theoretically has a bass player, Brad Kirkland, but good luck picking the sound of his instrument out from the pile of triple- or quadruple-tracked guitars. There isn’t a single bassline to be found among these nine tracks. Kirkland, like the rest of the band, just plays along with Emde.
Really, besides being effectively heavy, there’s nothing interesting about the Destro. Emde definitely knows his way around a chunky guitar riff, but that’s where his creativity ends. The band generally picks two or three (or in the worst instances, just one. Yikes!) similar-sounding riffs and rocks out on them for about three minutes. Then it’s on to the next song, where a new chugging guitar line that only sounds marginally different than the previous song does pretty much the same thing. It’s thrash metal without a spark of songwriting skill behind it.
Every song here is kinda-sorta fast, as the band never seems to speed up or slow down, at least not beyond “Justifiers of Malice,” the album’s opener and longest track at over five minutes. That song has a decent starting riff that trades off with a slower and heavier one, and it even features a nice outro that fades out. But that’s the only time the Destro tries anything like that. Second song “Thorns of Truth” really sets the tone for the rest of the album. It goes on for just under three minutes with Emde riffing along and the band following him, with only tiny variations in the guitar line.
Daughtry’s vocals are standard-issue cookie monster fare, without a distinctive sound to his shout or his growl. Because he’s such a monochromatic vocalist, it’s left to the rest of the band, particularly the guitars, to pick up the sonic slack. But since Emde is already busy playing chunky thrash-metal riffs and he’s the band’s only guitarist, no sonic slack is picked up. There’s nothing even resembling a guitar lead on the album, let alone a solo. Most metal drummers seem to pride themselves on speed and a few emphasize rhythmic complexity, but Garrett does neither. Sure, he can play the double-bass pedals pretty fast, but that’s a basic requirement these days. For the drumming to have any sort of rhythmic complexity, it would require Garrett to lock in and complement Emde’s guitar playing, which he doesn’t do because he spends the vast majority of the album simply mimicking him instead.
It all makes for an exceedingly boring listen. Harmony of Discord is one track after another of down-tuned riffing and shouting with nothing in between. For a segment of the metal community, the fact that it sounds heavy will be enough to recommend it. But it just doesn’t work for me. Without any variation in the speed, sound, or style, the heaviness alone doesn’t cut it. This album sounds more like a compilation of Nick Emde’s riffs than a set of actual songs by a full band.