Released: 2014, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Italian quintet Destrage are certainly some strange rangers. And that is both a blessing and a curse on their third full-length, and first with Metal Blade.
Their loopy, often fascinating and always challenging tech/death/prog metal echoes contemporaries like Between The Buried and Me, The Mars Volta and, especially, Dillinger Escape Plan, along with old-time avant-gardists King Crimson and Frank Zappa. Are You Kidding Me? is an undulating, spasmodic aural clusterfuck of an album that will offer a rousing, instantly catchy chorus or verse - as on “G.O.D.” or “Purania” - one minute then dissolve into a cacophony of caterwauling guitars, epileptic rhythms, pulsing electronics and shrieking vocals so abruptly that it's downright startling on the first few listens.
Destrage constantly keep you off-balance, and rarely let things get too comfortable – the comparatively restrained, even delicate “Where Things Have No Colour” being one notable exception. The songs slingshot back and forth with reckless abandon, and often seemingly often at random – the System of a Down-y, jig-like title track has to be heard to be believed - only to be tenuously held together, on, say, “Waterpark Bachelorette” or “(Obedience),” by strategically placed, and unquestionably engaging melodic patchwork.
The band's lack of conventionality and affinity for experimentation and daring certainly is admirable. But over the course of an entire album, the weirdness and chaotic construction of the material here becomes a bit overbearing and the overall experience ultimately more exhausting than entertaining.
Are You Kidding Me is best taken in smaller doses rather than all at once. Otherwise, you're in for an overdose of ear-bleed.