Are You Kidding Me? No. (Out now via Metal Blade Records) is the third album from Italian progressive metallers, DESTRAGE. I call them progressive metal because every song I’ve heard from them is so different! This band is refreshing, creative, unique, and incomparable. Throughout my repeated listens of Are You Kidding Me? No., so many attempts at comparisons entered my brain. I was saying to myself “This part reminds me of THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN! NO! This part reminds me of POLKADOT CADAVER and DOG FASHION DISCO! NO! This one reminds me of IN FLAMES! NO! Now, EVERY TIME I DIE! NO! This one is reminiscent of…” The list goes on, my friends, but you will easily see how hard it is to draw any comparisons to DESTRAGE. There are elements of death, thrash, and progressive metal mixed with some straight up rock and hard rock sounds. They are one of a kind, and this album displays it in their strongest effort to date.
Matteo Di Gioia and Ralph Salati’s guitar work on this LP is jaw dropping. They have created some of the most bad ass and chaotic compositions I’ve ever heard, matching them with some very tasteful and intricate clean guitar sections. Paolo Colavolpe’s range is completely ridiculous. He goes from mad man to smooth singer (and covers everything in between) in the blink of an eye. Death growls, screams, yells, singing, the man has it all going for him on this album. The rhythm section of Gabriel Pignata (bass) and Federico Paulovich (drums) keep the chaos in line while delivering some unique work of their own. This band as a whole blew me away. I have not heard something this original and unique in quite some time. I can see myself blasting it all summer in my car, windows down, making heads turn. DESTRAGE will be sonically infecting all of those around me on the road this summer. That is a fact.
“Destroy Create Transform Sublimate” is the lead track on the record. Within this 5:24 composition, you get a solid dose of their sporadic tendencies, rife with numerous styles of vocals (yells, death growls, clean singing, harmonies etc.), variations of tempo and attitude, and even an electronic section at the end. The guitars go from shredding madness, to clean toned beauty, to soaring and powerful chord progressions. They are explosive throughout this track and tie it all together with an incredibly catchy chorus that reminds me of something you would hear from Soundtrack to Your Escape-era IN FLAMES (my favorite band ever). It is original and creative from start to finish, as is this record. It prepares you well for the ten song journey.
“Purania” is destined to be a mosh pit enticer during their live shows. It is packed with high energy and hard hitting, percussive riffs and grooves. They don’t forget to spice it up with a bit of clean guitar driven jazz though. “My Green Neighbour” is an epic track that features what I consider to be the most insane guitar part on the album, beginning at 2:41. When it hits you in the face, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. WOW! “Hosts, Rifles & Coke” is my favorite track on the LP due to its absurdly aggressive nature mixed with a blazing guitar solo and some of the catchiest vocals and instruments you will experience on this full length. “G.O.D.” features my favorite intro out of the ten-pack of songs on Are You Kidding Me? No. I envision crowds clapping along to the rhythm and the mosh pit swelling in waves during this one. The guitar solo in this number is a very memorable one. Another guaranteed crowd favorite for a live DESTRAGE experience.
“Where the Things Have No Colour” starts with an acoustic intro, sounding very dreamy overall. Without fail, the ten-ton electric guitars, bass, drums, and vocals kick in creating a powerful statement before incorporating the acoustic back into the mix for a brief moment. The song is lyrically and instrumentally dominant and uplifting. It is a great song to play if you are feeling down on your luck. It WILL inspire you. “Waterpark Bachelorette” has multiple personalities disorder; going from all out heavy to an almost 70’s acoustic rock part, to modern rock, to metal, to progressive all within the same song. “Before, After and All Around” is the eighth track and showcases DESTRAGE’S technicality through complex arrangements and multiple tempo and emotion changes. This track is one where the vocals and individual instruments truly shine each their own at various times during the 4:24 listen.
“(Obedience)” is arguably the heaviest and most unpredictable song on the record. The low tuned guitar riffs, pummeling drums, and screaming vocals bring the heavy, while a spontaneous electronic part is injected into the mix for a moment. It proves that although you’re nine songs deep and might think you have this band figured out, you clearly do not, as that is an impossible feat. The title track is the closer and enters with a dose of shred right before kicking into what my brain equates as a “OH SHIT, CIRCLE PIT!” part. This song is thrashy and fast with over the top instrumentation; a true display of the force that this quintet can pack into one song. I feel the guitars stand out the most on this number. Take a listen, and you will most likely agree. Oh, and heads up, there is a REALLY cool polka inspired fragment around the middle of the track, complete with a horn section!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM. THIS RECORD IS A FULL ON EXPERIENCE TO DIGEST FROM START TO FINISH.