Review by Vladimir on December 31, 2022.
This year has delivered plenty of great extreme metal releases, especially that of the black metal kind. The hype over the release of the new Deströyer 666 album Never Surrender couldn't be more real, expectations were pretty big and demands to hear this album were even bigger. So the time was about right to have the new Deströyer 666 be delivered to the masses and embrace it with open arms, as the album was finally heard when Season of Mist uploaded it on YouTube on 29th November, only three days before its official release date on all platforms and physical media. As the wolf's ravenous gnarl was finally heard, the next turn was for the audiences and critics to judge whether Never Surrender delivered or failed. Did this wild animal deliver a good bloody bite or did it try to scavenge what was left of its own kind and fail to become the beast it was promised to be?
First and foremost, if you are someone who came here expecting another Cold Steel... For An Iron Age or Wildfire, then I'm afraid you're at the wrong place, if not, then this is an album for you. The reason why I am saying this is because it is very common to see people expecting Deströyer 666 to release another album of such sort, rather than let go of their expectations and just let the band take on something new, refreshing and exciting that could still captivate. Never Surrender keeps everything simple but not stupid, if anything it decides to jump right into action with the first title track 'Never Surrender' that radiates raw speed metal energy with its aggressive riffs, heavy metal-like solos and a very melodic Iron Maiden-esque riff on the other half of the song. The second track and personal favorite of mine 'Andraste' is the wild beast you've been waiting for, which oozes with amazing thrashing riffs, dive bombs, catchy melodies and solos, a blast beat in the beginning that later switches to reverse and double-bass drumming. A lot of the songs are very "in your face" thrash/speed metal with KK"s badass shouting vocals with harsh black metal vocal style on 'Pitch Black Night' and 'Rather Death', and one thing that should also be mentioned are the epic backing vocals during verses and choruses that add more testosterone. The sound production of this album is superb and excellent, the guitars sound heavy and aggressive, the vocals are pumped up and the drums aren't pushed too much forward where the guitars are completely buried in the mix.
Never Surrender to some might be a beast that didn't show its fangs and failed to prove its strength and speed, but to me it is the complete opposite. It is one of the best albums that 2022 has given us, it is speed and energy in all its glory which is the bread and butter of Deströyer 666, and also their specialty. Tracks 'Never Surrender', 'Andraste', 'Guillotine', 'Grave Raiders', 'Savage Rights' and 'Batavia's Graveyard' are probably the biggest highlights that will surely make you fall in love with this album and come back to it repeatedly like I did. To me, Deströyer 666 will always be a savage wolf that rips and tears the flesh of its pray, not a loud barking dog, and the album sends a strong message that this wild beast will never surrender. I can't wait to see them on tour now that Never Surrender album is hot and burning like steel. Hail the Gods of War!
Rating: 9.1 out of 10636
Review by Felix on December 19, 2022.
Deströyer 666 return six years after their last full-length, four years after the Call Of The Wild EP. The normal edition of Never Surrender lists nine tracks, a tenth one is on the “deluxe” edition. One can buy it for roughly 25 € instead of 15 € for the ordinary version. This means 10 € for one song (and some pretty useless merchandise gimmicks) – come on, dudes, do you really think we shit money? That’s not metal, just poor and the intention behind is easily comprehensible.
So to be clear, I speak about the normal edition. It houses the advance track 'Guillotine' and it’s up to you to label its lyrics as patriotic, idiotic or whatever. I think that proper care of one’s country is okay or even necessary, but it’s always a question how to express it… and perhaps 'Guillotine' does not find a good form. Apart from this, the song is comparatively unoffending and it belongs to the weaker tracks here. It almost appears as the prelude to the following, much stronger 'Pitch Black Night'. This piece shows the characteristic features of the album in an impressive way. Nearly heroic guitar lines open the song and guarantee a great flow right from the beginning. The verse does not lack pressure and individuality, while the guitars regain their dominance from time to time. The many-voiced chorus keeps the high quality level and the solo is exciting. Due to the more or less conventional song pattern, nobody will be unable to understand the inner strength of this compact and atmospherically dense highlight immediately.
Of course, a good mix is always helpful and D 666 know how their songs have to sound. The production does not differ a lot from that of “Wildfire”. Given this fact, I am listening to a clear, powerful and well-defined sound. In other words, I guess you cannot give this kind of material a better technical frame. Speaking of the material, there is a lot of mid-tempo to find here. This results in the situation that the songs are pretty similar to each other. Thus, we get a very homogeneous work. On the other hand, a really outstanding track is missing. No new wargod sings an ode to the battle slain. Nevertheless, a remarkable number of tracks enriches the catalogue of the Australians who have already set the bar high in the past. The impetuous 'Mirror’s Edge', for example, offers another high quality headbanger. I am almost sure that I have already heard the guitar line which appears after three minutes in another song before, but I cannot say where and when. Maybe my mind fools me. Anyway, it’s a great and almost filigree one (in the context of D 666).
K.K. Warslut and his comrades have not significantly modified their style. Perhaps the album has 10% less aggression than its predecessor. I regret this, but at the end it’s no big deal. D 666 still sound like the more brutal version of Assaulter – or, maybe more fitting, they just have stayed loyal to their roots. Either the band is on its way to become an institution or it has already finished this journey, who can decide this? Probably it is better to enjoy the music on Never Surrender than to spend the time with this question. I recommend to pay an extra portion of attention to 'Rather Death', because it is among the most dynamic tracks due to some very well executed tempo shifts. This speedy eruption makes clear that ruthlessness and melodies are not mutually exclusive. Its chorus does not fully hit the mark, nevertheless, the song provides an intensive listening experience. 'Andraste' delivers another harsh savagery. In contrast, the pretty relaxed closer fails to kick asses.
Summing up, D 666 have released a good album. Its musical content does not kowtow to the dictates of the commercial part of the metal industry. Admittedly, the band does not shift into top gear. But never surrender - Never Surrender has enough grim, currish and mangy vibes, although spectacular elements are missing. In short, it’s a release that does not lack authenticity and that’s always an important factor.
Rating: 7.9 out of 10636
Review by Fernando on December 3, 2022.
Something that’s always a hard pill to swallow in any art form is that creativity is not limitless, and even the best of the best bands eventually succumb to the passage of time, sometimes they do so gracefully, other times it's just not fun to hear. Enter Deströyer 666, once heralded as the standard for quality black/thrash metal, and definitive Australian extreme metal band, the last decade or so has seen the band become controversial, and even reviled due to founder, main songwriter and guitarist K.K. Warslut basically doing the “old man yells at cloud” routine of ranting about social media, activists and anyone that has the gall to call him out on his lets be real, stupid and ignorant bile. That being said, I am not here to morally judge Warslut as a person, it certainly leaves a bad taste, but that’s not the point. So with that out of the way, let's get into the long awaited sixth Deströyer 666 record, Never Surrender, released through Season of Mist.
So for starters and to just get this out of the way, the lyrics are absolute boomer cringe. Its borderline parodical how bad the lyrics are, some would say D666 has always had one or two songs with knuckle draggingly stupid and cringy lyrics ('Raped' from their third album Cold Steel… For An Iron Age, being the worst case), but that could’ve been overlooked due to the music (we’ll get to that), but here its ALL THE ALBUM, with the worst offender being the lead single 'Guillotine', with the irritating and face-palming inducing yelling of “What the hell happened to my country?”. So to just cut the crap, yeah, these are the worst lyrics to any D666 album yet, and to quote what many edgy and easily triggered black metal chuds say; to K. K. Warslut of Deströyer 666 I say, keep your bullshit politics out of your music, or more politely, shut up and shred.
Now, with all that out of the way, is at least the music good? Can the riffs make up for lyrics that seem lifted from 14 year old libertarian atheists’ Telegram group chat? Yeah no, this is easily the most boring, and uninspired Deströyer 666 record. At best the band are resting on their laurels (despite my distaste for Warslut, nothing he says or does will make 'Unchain The Wolves' and 'Phoenix Rising' bad), and at worst the band are just rotely rehashing the same old tropes with nothing truly fresh or unique, nor do they add grit or grimmess like they used to. All the music here has been done better by D666 themselves and bands that they inspired and preceded. I can tell that the intention was to make a no bullshit, old school type thrash metal record, they even focus much more on melody and hooks than previous records, in fact Never Surrender is very reminiscent of old school blackened speed metal aka first wave black metal a la early Sodom, and feature classic heavy metal and NWOBHM soloing and riffs, the intent is very clear, and the band do have an in-depth understanding of classic 80’s thrash and speed, but again none of it feels fresh and for an album that’s very aggressive is outstandingly toothless and has no real grit because, once again, the music feels like a copy of much better albums from the past.
The only noteworthy aspects to praise are the performances of Felipe and Kev Desecrator, who are obviously talented musicians, but the material here doesn’t allow them to shine as they usually do because it's so stock and by the numbers. Even Warslut’s vocals, one of the many elements that made D666 stand out in spite of everything, are so bland, he sounds like a drunken Mille Petrozza and when he does bring his raspy growls they sound so forced, and as if he’s running out of breath, I get he’s getting close to 50, but if the music, and the lyrics can’t compensate for weathered vocals, then there’s not much you can do about it. So overall, D666 made a very disposable record, and in the context of their LP’s this feels like a complete step down from how they rebounded from the ok Defiance to the vintage yet compelling Wildfire (which was what this record tried to continue but much better) in what seems like a once rabid and proud wolf, aging, becoming complacent and barking more than biting.
I actually tried to find something positive to praise about this record, because despite my own gripes with the band, I can both enjoy and admit that Deströyer 666 has made good music that’s still the blueprint for black/thrash, that’s never gonna change, but as for this record? No thanks, I’ll just replay Phoenix Rising, and stick to early Kreator and Mercyful Fate if I want both a gritty thrash metal, or melodic yet gnarly heavy metal. And if some people, from some circles get angry over a review on the internet, maybe find something better to do with your life than arguing with strangers over music.
Rating: 2 out of 10636