We’re Not Kidding You: Destrage’s Are You Kidding Me? No. is Awesome
A wild ride of shred-friendly dynamics and breakdown-heavy precision, Destrage’s Are You Kidding Me? No. (yep, that’s really the title) blends together the devilishly clever musicality and wickedly playful nature of bands such as Mr. Bungle, Sikth, Protest the Hero, and DEP to create an adventurous romp through the fields of prog-wankery. But despite all of the jaw-dropping technical feats encompassed on this album, there is very little (if any) noodling — every moment feels quite calculated and purposeful, solos are kept short and sweet, and there are hooks to boot. These are extraordinary musicians, purveying rich, diverse vocals shimmering alongside stellar (and occasionally impossible-sounding) drumming, as well as fluid, syncopated guitar theatrics impressive enough to attract Guns N’ Roses 6-string wizard Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal to make a guest appearance.
The Italian band’s new label, Metal Blade, has made a good bet here, assuming Destrage is able to find an international audience willing to go on the journey despite (or in spite of) sounding a little nu-metal at times. There are hints of The Offspring and other bands I’d rather not mention here, lest you get turned off by such comparisons; but rest assured, there are plenty of forward-thinking elements to leave you wondering “What the fuck?!?” in a decidedly good way.
Perhaps a turnoff for some, I for one love the unexpected but well-aligned use of electronics here — Destrage weave in several samples and moments of sequenced drums, to each song’s benefit. The music feels more diverse as a result, despite some of the ideas playing in a slightly outdated manner (the last minute and change of opening track “Destroy Create Transform Sublimate” devolves into a drum n bass beat you might have heard at a late 90s rave). And I’m not gonna lie — the in-your-face production approach can make this album feel a bit exhausting by the last couple songs. But any mildly questionable moments are excusable given the level of musical proficiency and creativity throughout, and it’s hard not to get swept up in the infectious, singalong anthemic choruses of songs such as “Waterpark Bachelorette.”
This is also a band that often proudly puts its sense of humor in the foreground alongside the music; vocalist Paolo Colavolpe warns “Don’t take me seriously” in second track “Purania,” and even though this could be indirectly construed as a humble dismissal of the intergalactic talents displayed here, it’s also an appropriate sentiment from a band that clearly wants to bust out giggling in between flurries of proggtacular runs down the shreddy slopes. Frankly, a lot of the tech-y feats and turnarounds seem to have been written by someone with an affinity for the absurd; Bungle jumps to mind again, both musically and comedically. A prime example of this whimsically jocular nature is third track “My Green Neighbor”, a delightful ditty about the relevance of zombies in today’s society — and the band’s recent video for this one (featuring a couple zombies who we’re guessing are band members competing in a muddy footrace) displays a similar sense of talent meets wit. Fer chrissakes, the main lyric of the chorus is “SHOOT ZOMBIES IN THE FACE!!!” I rest my case.
So leave your adult shoes at the door, break into your parents’ liquor cabinet, and get ready to have some fun. Like that junior high pizza party turned orgy, it doesn’t always make sense but it definitely feels mighty good.
Don’t just take my word for it — stream the entire album right here.
Destrage’s Are You Kidding Me? No. is out now on Metal Blade. Get it here.