Album review: DESTRANGE – Are You Kidding Me? No.

Metal Blade – Out Now.

Attracting the attention of a label as established and well respected as Metal Blade is no easy feat, however, Italian Technical Metalers Destranged have achieved precisely that. It was on the strength of their 2012 technically maddening album “Are You Kidding Me? No.” that the quintet was offered a contract by Brian Slagel and Co, and this release has been re-issued by Metal Blade records for worldwide distribution.

If the band’s name is indeed a combination of the words ‘deranged’ and ‘strange’ then that relates perfectly to the music on offer. I have fought long and hard to find an accurate way of describing what these ten compositions actually sound like, but I failed to come up with something truly fitting each and every time.

In gastronomical terms, certain flavours will be much to your liking, whereas others you will probably choose to leave on the side of your plate. Jazz, Prog, Emo, Groove, Mariachi (?!?)…every style of music under the sun is given its ‘two minutes of fame’ and that has resulted in an album that is thematically varied but also fairly challenging for the average listener to grasp.

It only takes a few seconds into the opening track “Destroy Create Transform Sublimate” for the listener to realise that understanding and appreciating this album will require some effort on their part. Flamboyant leads, scream/growl style vocals, anthemic choruses – everything’s up for grabs.

Based on a groovy Metalcore riff, “Purania” has enough melodies to attract the masses, something that cannot be said for its rhythmically maddening sibling “My Green Neighbour”.  “Hosts Rifles & Coke” provides a three and a half minute melodic haven while “G.O.D.”, quite fittingly if you ask me, finds the band indulging in numerous rhythmically challenging themes.

Even though it comes across as a relatively straight forward composition, “Where The Things Have No Colour” offers plenty in terms of skill – something that cannot be said for the unnecessarily complex duo “Waterpack Bachelorette” / “-(Obedience)”.

Metalcore fans with a feel for groove will enjoy what’s on offer in “Before, After And All Around”  while those of you with a most…adventurous sense of humour will surely appreciate the Mariachi trumpet themes on the seven and a half minute same-titled Prog Metal beast that the band has brought to life.

It’s been quite some time since I last came across an album as unique and as technically challenging as “Are You Kidding Me? No” and chances are that it will take a while before I will find myself listening to an album that will be capable of comparing with this one in terms of originality and quality of execution.

Actually, if skill and originality were the elements by which this album was being evaluated, I would have given it a ridiculously high rating.

The truth, however, is that this is not an easy-listening album and it will require you being in a very specific mood and state of mind before you even attempt to take it all in. Impressive, nevertheless.

John Stefanis

Rating: ***1/2 (3.5/5.0)

In his show broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 10 May David Randall played a further selection of artists and albums included in the new Features series, “2020 Vision”.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Featured Albums w/c 25 May (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 FM Synchronized (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 THE ROCKET DOLLS The Art Of Disconnect (indie)
14:00-16:00 BEN KUNDER Searching For The Stranger (indie)

Power Plays w/c 11 May (Mon-Fri)

THE MERCY KILLS Alone (Golden Robot Records)
DEAD REYNOLDS By Your Side (indie)
THE JAILBIRDS Watery Grave (Golden Robot Records)
ALI MASS & MICKY MOODY These Times (Last Man Music)
MASSIVE WAGONS Bangin In Your Stereo (Earache)
UDO We Are One (AFM Records)

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