Sunday, June 14, 2015

Cyclone - Brutal Destruction [1986]

It might be a sad fact that Cyclone suffered from anachronisms throughout their brief career, but they nevertheless managed to emerge as one of the best Belgian thrash outfits with only two full-lengths at their belt. While their sophomore was a tour de force in the realms of classic, albeit chunkier Bay Area thrash, complete with a characteristically dark and alluring atmosphere, back in 1986, when Bay Area thrash was just finding its way around the woodwork with cornerstones like ''Master of Puppets'', ''Reign in Blood'', ''Darkness Descends'' and ''Bonded By Blood'', the Belgians were keeping more to the German rule book, boasting a vicious, uncompromising Teutonic aesthetic which Kreator, Destruction, Sodom and Tankard were promulgating at the time, doused in speed metal. As crazed and energetic it may seem to purists, ''Brutal Destruction'' is not the most memorable piece to be excavated from its time, even though the Belgians obviously had a good head start.

Cyclone always seemed one step behind the world, which is probably why they were lost in the throngs. Had this record come out 2-3 years before its release, it would easily had been hailed as one of those cult pre-'85 recordings, with ragged production values and undiluted, sporadic speed/thrash riff ballasts supporting its cult status. But that's not the case here, since ''Brutal Destruction'' feels like an average ringlet in the whole circular universe of thrash recordings, even at a time when the genre was still fresh and malleable. Still, that's not to say ''Brutal Destruction'' is bad; while I'd still say this isn't as impressive or technical as something Dave Mustane would have crafted at the time, speedy guitar licks and delicious lead snippets inserted into a broader, savage thrashing undercurrent, Cyclone is notably 'German' here, with a sound that reminds one of the earliest Destruction and Kreator records peized randomly and stuffed into a nice speed metal cauldron, yet not as evil as some of Sodom's early recordings, stripped almost entirely from all sense of melody. Ripping, ribald muted tremolos and occasional heavier moments that borrowed a riff or two from ''Pleasure to Kill'' give the impression that the band members where still uncertain whether they should go by a more straightforward speed/thrash aesthetic or a slightly more complex hefty thrash barge (it turns out they picked the latter in the end, although not on this record) with reasonably outrageous and corny song titles (''Take Thy Breath'', ''Incest Love'', ''In the Grip of Evil''). Unmuzzled and road-driven as these riffs are, it's hard to take Cyclone too seriously, even with the evident energy bestowed upon their performance: this is 'real' 80's metal for sure, but it also feels more moderate than the higher octane body of works that was being put out at that time.

The vocals give that frenetic Paul Bailoff effect; they're amateurish (not unlike the sophomore) but there's enough shrieking and shouting to be heard to make them enjoyable. I'm not going to lie that the guitar tone and the production levels are surprisingly impressive for a record out of 1986. The chords, the drums and even the plodding, one-dimensional base lines are all suitably integrated into the mix, and if anything, the leads, in all their frivolity, are still fairly entertaining with a sporadic blues attitude, reminiscent more of a ''Kill 'em All'' than ''Infernal Overkill''. To be honest, there are good tracks here: ''Long to Hell'' and ''Incest Love'' are both quite compilation-worthy, fiendish shouting and successively rabid riffs galore. ''Fall Under His Command'' is probably my favorite tune here, possibly because of its swirling panorama of guitar solos and a bulky, percussive main riff coupled with some more fanciful, tremolo picking episodes, but in the end, none of these tracks are really on a par with the premium material that was being released in '86-'87, nor do they cast a wide net of creative reinforcement upon the genre. Needless to say, I'd vie for the Belgians' sophomore over this any day for its sheer crushing majesty, but ''Brutal Destruction'' yet remains as one of those half-unearthed mid-80's speed/thrash gems that deserves a discovery (or rediscovery) at the hands of collectors or purists, and even beyond that it remains a spry and rampant declaration of the genre's hostility against those who supposedly flattened out its tires with tongue-in-cheek during the early 90's. Poseur-free as always.

''Incest Love''
''Fall Under His Command''
''Long To Hell''

Final Rating
Mediocre [6.8/10]