Crikey, was it really 2009 since the last Destroyer 666 album? It seems much more recent than that, and yet here we are again with the fifth full length album from the Australian metal crew. The band relocated to Europe some time ago, with most of them now living in our nation’s capital, based around founder member and ex-Bestial Warlust head-honcho KK Warslut. (I imagine, as an aside, that Mr and Mrs Warslut thought hard before naming their baby boy “KK”). There’s been a bit of churn on the personnel front since “To The Devil His Due” hit us, but fear not, intrepid reader – as the blueprint for the Destroyer 666 sound remains intact.
“Wildfire” is unmistakably a Destroyer 666 album – from the very first bars of the raging blackened thrash of “Traitor”, with the same guitar tone that you might expect from force-feeding a hummingbird blue skittles and then pushing it in a milk bottle. That being said, “Wildfire” is not without its surprises. In fact, this is the album in which the band have arguably expanded their sound the most from the core here. The title track, for instance, has an unmistakably NWOBHM feel to it, while obviously being massively heavy. The vocals are a little less hoarse – more understandable – while still not straying into fully clean territory. Elsewhere, “Hounds at Ya Back” has the kind of raucous gallop and infectious chorus that bridges the gap between vintage song-writing and modern ferocity. The sprawling closer, “Tamam Shud” shows this approach more than anywhere on the album. It’s a six-minute-plus sprawler, with a mid-pace, some clean (and even choral) vocals, and an epic feel. It’s an odd thing to hear Destroyer 666 having their very own Bathory moment, but none the worse for it, to be honest. At nine songs long, this isn’t an album to outlast its welcome – on the contrary, every single time I have played Wildfire, I have immediately wanted to play it again. This is a most welcome way for an album to leave the listener.
Destroyer 666 have lost none of their song-writing chops, with each song being honed almost perfectly. There is no filler to be found here, with each track serving a perfect purpose. In terms of the production, everything is crystal clear, with a punchy rhythm section that for once isn’t drowned out by the guitars. In total, this is an album I think that shows the crew at a level of confidence that has seen them dip into some classic metal tropes, without sounding nostalgic or contrived. What the world did not need is another retro band, but gaining some influences from the golden age of metal is no bad thing. An excellent album all told, and this contains some tracks that will inevitably make my “songs of the year” playlist.
(8.5/10 Chris Davison)